After searching for her birth parents for most of her life, Elizabeth Muto has finally found one. When she was just a baby, Muto was found at an airport gate at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.
“This is where my life begins,” she said of the Delta Airlines gate at which she was discovered as a 10-day-old infant. “Most people’s life began the day they were born. Mine began the day I was found.”
She was adopted by Tom and Katherine Muto and named Elizabeth. “I just knew,” her mother told Inside Edition. “I knew when I saw her, she’d be my baby forever. That’s the one God chose for me.”
Elizabeth had always known she was adopted, but she had few answers to her many questions. Her parents encouraged her every dream, and Elizabeth graduated from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and went on to become the first Black Miss Nevada in 2004.
“My parents taught me everything I know,” she said. “I may not know what I am, what day I was born, what race I am, what city I was born in, but I know who I am and my parents are responsible for that.”
Elizabeth is now married and has three children. As a beauty pageant consultant, she often travels through the airport in which she was found. And as she went on with her life, one question kept playing over and over in her mind.
“You don’t wonder the how or the why or the what … [you wonder] what could I have done so wrong?” she said.
But the pandemic kept Elizabeth ground and with newfound free time, so she focused on her background to try to identify her biological parents. She dug into the ancestry database 23&Me. “I went all the way up to the great-great-great-grandmother,” she said.
She also identified a second cousin, who contacted her and helped point her to five potential birthmothers. Elizabeth wrote to them all. “I pray this finds you well and healthy,” she wrote. “I’ve been waiting 40 years to reach out to you … Are you my biological mother? Or my biological aunt?”
Her birth mother responded in an email. “It was overwhelming to me,” Elizabeth said. “She was kind. She was accepting. She answered all my questions. … She said she wasn’t able to give me the life I deserved.”
Elizabeth learned her biological father, who was Black, died in 2004, and her biological mother is Japanese and lived in the San Francisco Bay area. She also learned that she was meant to be dropped off at an adoption agency, but her biological mother’s roommate left her at the airport.
“Another surprise in a sea of surprises,” she said.
Elizabeth and her birth mother have since met, helping bring closure to a chapter that for four decades had many questions but no answers.
“The highest highs, the lowest lows,” she said. “A lot of prayer, but in the end, I did find my biological mother. I count my blessings every day.”