After almost six decades of separation, a group of Victoria siblings were reunited with the long-lost sister their mother always claimed was out there.
“We found her, and she’s going to be with us from now on,” said Conchita “Connie” Guevara, 55, of Victoria.
With the help of the genealogy service Ancestry.com, three sisters and one brother, all of Victoria, were reunited with their sister, Alma Jean Perez, 58, of Lafayette, La. For almost their entire lives, the Victoria siblings faithfully hoped to one day find the sister their mother had given up soon after birth.
“Before our mother passed away, she made it very clear to me that one day (we should) find her,” said Conchita “Connie” Guevara, 55, of Victoria. “(She said), ‘She’s out there somewhere.”
Guevara said her mother also asked the siblings to ask Perez for forgiveness.
Saturday, that dying wish was fulfilled when Perez walked through Guevara’s front door and into their open arms. In the home’s family room, the sisters, brother and host of children, grandchildren, cousins and other extended family members shared a moment they had only dreamed about. With voices raw from emotion, they made introductions, sharing hugs and tears.
“It’s so unbelievable,” said John Guevara, Conchita Guevara’s 68-year-old husband, adding, “It tops just about ... everything.”
Coincidentally, Perez; Guevara; and a third sister, Cynthia Guerra, 52, of Victoria, received Ancestry.com testing kits as Christmas gifts in 2016 and 2017. After pushing off the testing for months, the sisters finally learned they were related in July after Perez completed her testing a few months prior.
“We all had it just sitting there and never did anything, and the rest is history,” Guerra said.
John Guevara joked the sisters share a predilection for procrastination.
For almost all of Perez’s 58 years, she had only whispers from family members and few clues gleaned from a cryptic birth certificate to trace her way back to her birth mother, who had surrendered her custody to another couple for unknown reasons.
From that birth certificate, Perez knew her birth parents’ names and that she was born in Corpus Christi and had two siblings − but little else.
And when Perez’s adoptive parents died when she was a child, the trail home became even harder to trace.
“Everyone wants to know where they come from,” Perez said.
Perez’s three adult daughters, who accompanied their mother to Victoria, agreed the meeting had a powerful effect on their mother.
The daughters said they also were thrilled to expand their previously small family.
“It was overwhelming ... we found out there was maybe a hundred or a few hundred (new family members in Texas),” said 36-year-old Christina Kusy, Perez’s middle daughter, who also lives in Lafayette, La.
Although Perez continues to search for the identity of her father − not only for herself but also for her three adult daughters, who accompanied her to Victoria − she said she is pleased beyond measure to uncover at least half of her past.
Saturday afternoon, Perez along with her new and old family members paid a visit to the Rockport cemetery to visit her mother, whom she has no memory of meeting.
“It’s still like, ‘Wake me up,’” Perez said. “Everything just kind of came out of nowhere.”