SALT LAKE CITY -- It was a reunion 13 years in the making at Salt Lake City International Airport. Anjelika Cueto was 7-years-old the last time she saw her mother, Elisia Valdez.
“It was really hard," Valdez said. "My life fell apart when they took her from me."
With her mother in and out of jail, the state took Anjelika and placed her with a foster family.
“I didn't have a hard life: I was always happy,” Cueto said.
However, she knew something was missing. So, she got on Facebook and started looking for her mother and eventually connected with her grandmother in Louisiana, who told her that her mother was in jail. Anjelika wrote her first letter to Elisia last January.
“It says, 'Hi I think I'm your daughter' and I just cried," Valdez said. "She said, 'I've been looking for you for like nine years.'"
The two have been writing letters back and forth ever since. In the meantime, Anjelika and her grandma have been planning this reunion. A day after her release from prison, Anjelika surprises her mother at the airport, introduces her to her granddaughter, and tells her they’ll be joining her on a flight to Louisiana to visit great-grandma.
“Just knowing I have a mom myself to go to if I need help or just support: Someone to love, it's a great feeling,” Cueto said.
Valdez added: “I'm complete finally after all these years. I'm complete."
Elisia Valdez is moving to Louisiana to live with her mother but says she’ll never be torn away from her daughter again. She plans to visit Utah as much as possible.