- This video's for my friends in North Carolina.
I miss y'all so much.
- This year has kept so many of us apart from the people that we love.
- I have a new granddaughter, she was born three weeks ago.
I only see her on FaceTime.
- Right now I'm missing my friend, Ethan we went to high school together and that was my dog.
- The person I miss the most would probably be my best friend Dan.
- We're texting every day, we're on video chats.
If anything, maybe we speak to each other too much.
(upbeat music) - Due to the risk of Coronavirus, air travel is down 70% in America.
- For me, even a visit to someone's home across town feels impossible.
- My dad's been really far away from me.
He retired halfway around the planet and I really miss him.
As-salamu alaykum Babaji.
How are you today?
- Well, I'm in Pakistan in a small village near Lahore.
- It's been a long time.
- At least you are calling and visiting us every week.
That is helping a lot.
- Papa's home.
- When this is over I can't wait to enjoy every single moment I have with my best friend.
- I look forward to seeing people's faces again.
- When this thing is over, all I wanna do is hug my mom.
- For Mary Beth DeSanto, she was hoping for a reunion decades in the making.
- The one really sad thing in my life was giving up my baby daughter 50 years ago.
- [Danielle] For half a century, Mary Beth has wondered what happened to the baby she gave up for adoption.
- I was 17 and my parents took me to Our Lady of Victory, Was a home for unwed mothers, girls that were pregnant.
I didn't want to take a chance on ruining her life.
I remember looking at her and just thinking, what am I going to do with you?
- In 1970, teen pregnancy was even more stigmatized and the options available were quite different.
- And in a pre-Roe v. Wade America an unexpected pregnancy was usually legally required to be carried to term.
- [Ali] As a result, adoptions were far more common and in most cases, birth parents would never know who adopted their child.
- So on March 5th, when I got the letter and it was from Victoria, I couldn't believe it.
- Hello, Mary Beth.
My name is Victoria Rich.
This may not be the letter you'd expect to receive every day.
I truly hope this letter is not an unwelcome intrusion.
- My motivation has been to let my birth mother know things turned out okay.
And I hope the same for her.
All I ever wanted was for her to just be okay.
- [Danielle] In early 2020 New Yorker, Victoria Rich was able to find out who her birth mother was after the state passed a law that allowed adoptees to gain access to their original birth certificates.
- Being adopted I often did wonder who my birth parents might be, but there's the fear of not knowing what you're gonna find out.
- As soon as I started stopped shaking, I dialed her number.
- A call was coming in from Erie, Pennsylvania.
I don't know why I was like trying to be cool just like hello.
I'm just like, I know who this is.
There was a long pause.
And she said, it's Mary Beth.
Like, Oh my God.
- [Ali] Their first conversation changed everything.
And they couldn't wait to reunite after a lifetime apart.
- She's like, you have two brothers and they're gonna be so excited to meet you.
- I couldn't believe it.
- It really was a dream come true for me.
- [Danielle] But by the following week, the rest of the country was experiencing a paradigm shift, too.
- Everything got canceled because of the coronavirus.
Everyone was just kind of in lockdown.
- It's been five months, - And we still have not met.
- To be so close to meeting and have a derail that the last minute must've been really hard.
- Yeah I feel that we've had to postpone my dad's first trip to come and meet my daughter.
I don't know when it's gonna happen now.
- Oh look who is that?
Sleepy bug here.
How are you?
Whenever the time comes I would like to be close to her.
- I kind of wish I could ask her in her three-year-old mind, where does she think you live?
Part of me thinks she thinks you live in the phone.
I don't- (Anwar laughs) - We had one Zoom meeting.
That didn't go real well it kept freezing.
And then we'd just be staring at each other with our mouths open or something.
- I can relate.
Can you hear us now?
- Can you hear me?
- We can hear you.
Can you hear me?
- Technical difficulties aside, Mary Beth and Victoria tried to stay in touch.
- We've been texting a lot.
We've talked a lot about everything from the beginning.
We both realized that we shared a very similar sense of humor - There were times that I had to put the phone down that I was laughing so hard.
She mentioned that she always wanted a cauldron, I think would look nice in my fireplace.
I said, Oh, I thought maybe you were Wiccan.
It sounds weird to other people, but it was funny to us.
- [Ali] With the initial peak of the pandemic in New York over Victoria decided to make the seven hour trip to Erie, Pennsylvania to meet her birth mother.
- Definitely feeling kind of anxious.
And I've already had too much caffeine.
Here we go.
(upbeat music) My birthday is August 20th.
I am turning 50.
The last time we saw each other was almost exactly 50 years ago to the day.
And so I decided that that would be something good to do for this kind of monumental birthday.
- And she said to me, nobody's getting any younger.
She's gonna be at my door in a few days.
- Making this trip during a pandemic has been a little challenging.
I have not been away from my house.
I've not been around more than a couple of people.
It like adds this whole weird layer of planning.
Okay, here we are.
(upbeat music) - Just worried about what she's gonna think of me in person.
- I just assume people aren't gonna like me.
And I know that I know that's weird.
You know, coz I'm a little bit nervous, it's like, oh, we don't really know each other.
And I was like, but I do, like, I was inside you first nine months.
In 10 minutes, I will be meeting my birth mother.
Oh my hair is like kinda crazy looking.
(mumbles) Almost here - After 15 years of sadness, I'm really ready for some happiness.
(soft music) - It's been a long time coming.
- You don't have to bend over.
- Okay, I know am really tall.
- Don't you remember that I told you that I'm really tall?
- Yes I never thought I would have the opportunity to ever see her again.
I'm 68 and I kinda felt like time had run out.
- Can you take off your mask for a second so I see what you look like?
- And this is naturally curly hair?
Wonder where I got it from?
(all laugh) - [All] Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you.
- It's wild to see her in real life.
It's like something I've never experienced.
(all cheer) - She's wonderful.
More than I ever expected.
(Victoria laughs) - It's a mini caldron.
The advice I would give anyone right now, who's wavering on whether or not to reach out to someone that they've been separated from is I think they should do it.
- It's been a great weekend thought I'd be sadder right now, but I'm just so happy because, now you're in our life.
- Just do it and put some positive vibes out into the world.
- I missed you so much.
Not to sound very woo woo, but it's all we got right now.
- Have a good trip, I'm glad you came.
- What do you look forward to doing when we are able to see each other?
- To be very honest, I want to be much closer to the daughter than you.
(Ali laughs) and I miss her already.
- One day Inshallah, we'll be able to do that.
- I'm waiting for that - [Narrator] PBS American portrait is - A platform where - People can go to in order to share their experiences - So join in, - Go to PBS - .org - /americanportrait.
- She calls popsicles Pakistan's, but she knows you live in Pakistan.
So either I very much confused her into thinking that you live in some type of giant Popsicle, or she understands that these, there, you can be in a place called Pakistan, or you can be eating a Pakistan too.