RICHMOND, Va. (WVEC) -- The arrivals area at the airport often brings a sense of anticipation.
“I'm feeling excited,” said Cleaudia Banks of Chesapeake, as she waited in the terminal at Richmond International Airport. “We can't wait 'til they get off the plane.”
We've all been there. There’s an eagerness and a hope that almost make you feel like you could jump out of your skin.
“Time to get ready!” family members exclaimed as the clock ticked away. “Yay! I guess people are coming in, so I guess we better be getting ready.”
The anticipated arrival was, in fact, a meeting 52 years in the making.
“This is crazy,” 56-year-old Cleaudia exclaimed.
Cleaudia and her brother Clarence were put up for adoption when they were very young. They had no idea they had three siblings on the other side of the country until just a few months ago.
“This is finally happening,” she said. “This is finally happening!”
Cleaudia was trying to find her birth mother, but what she got is the rest of her family. Emotions overwhelmed everyone.
“My sister, my sister, oh baby, I love you,” Clara Ray cried as she embraced Cleaudia for the first time.
Clara, David, and Sean Ray flew from California to put their family together.
“We just going to enjoy one another,” Cleaudia told 13News Now.
They let us and our cameras come along with them as they get to know what it's like to be a family of five. We met up with them a few days later at Cleaudia's home.
“It's been crazy,” David, 49, laughed. “I would have to say it's been good but crazy.”
They're learning more about each other.
“We haven't gotten to that point where I can kick back and say, 'Oh, I have a brother and sister,'” David explained. “You're constantly like, it's like you're studying somebody.”
Clara, David, and Sean now are able to fill in the blanks for Cleaudia and Clarence. They always knew about their other siblings, but it was one of those topics you really didn't discuss.
“So, just picture I'm sitting here, and they're talking about it at the kitchen table, and I'm eavesdropping: 'Oh, we got a sister and brother. What's going on here?,' you know what I mean, and then you see her cry about it,” David recalled.
Cleaudia and Clarence finally found out it wasn't their mother's choice to give them up. There were complicated family issues.
Their mother passed away never knowing her children would find each other.
“I just wish my mom would be able to share it,” lamented 52-year-old Clara. “I mean, this is what we always wanted. She would have let them know that she never stopped loving them.”
Still, Clara feels like their mom is here, in a way, in the older sister she's just getting to know.
“I was looking at my mom because she looks like my mom,” Clara noted.
“Gut-wrenching in a good way, humbling to know because I was always wondering: 'Do I look like my mother or my father?'” shared Cleaudia. “When she said I look just like my mom, it's indescribable.”
While Cleaudia and Clarence learned about their lost past, they shared stories of the past they did know.
“This is where me and Cleaudia was raised at,” Clarence told the others when he brought them to their childhood home.
The three siblings from California saw how their brother and sister grew up, noting how differently their upbringings were, realizing there were things they missed out on.
“I didn't have a father figure to look up to and nobody to look up to so I had to pretty much make my decision on my own, so I made a lot of bad decisions,” David remembered. “I think that if I had an older brother that got his head on right he would have helped me with that decision-making.”
Clarence, who is the oldest sibling, said, “It's going to take me to keep things going,” referring to the new bond everyone shares. It comes with an appreciation for what they now have: each other.
“There's so much negativity in the world, but this is something positive, that's pure, that's honest,” Cleaudia said. “Don't give up on your loved ones. Don't give up. Keep looking for them. Ask questions. Do whatever you got to do.”