MICHELLE STYRON/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
Growing up with and knowing your siblings is something most take for granted. Take for instance the story of locals Tiffany Riley and Angelia Peterson. Tiffany and Angelia can remember being in foster care. They can remember their parents Irene M. Peterson and the late Willie James Peterson, seeing them for the first time and eventually taking them home. The memories that they can’t seem to hold and recall are those of their siblings and their biological parents.
“Our parents never kept our adoption a secret. They were very open about it and open about anything we wanted to know that they could share with us,” said Tiffany as she told the story of the things she remembered about their adoption.
The Peterson’s had three boys, and wanted a little girl for their family but they were not having any more children of their own. The couple went to Montgomery County and started looking through profiles. They came across two little girls and fell in love. Tiffany and Angelia met Mr. and Mrs. Peterson for the first time when they were 8-years-old. Little to their knowledge did the young girls know that the Peterson’s originally only had plans to adopt one child.
“My mama told us later that she just knew God intended for her to have both of us, so, they ended up adopting both me and my sister, “said Tiffany.
“It wasn’t until I had my first child, Jermaine, that the questions about where I came from and my biological family really became a need for me. There was always a void, but, when I would take him to appointments and the nurses and doctors would ask about family medical history and those were questions I could not answer and I knew I needed to know.”
Tiffany says she has always wanted her birth parents to know that she and Angelia were okay and their lives were going well. Tiffany and Angelia are both graduates of Greenville High School. Angelia has two children and works in the nursing field as a CNA. Tiffany is married, has two children, works at Hyundai Steel, is part of owner of One Stop Discount Grocery and an Executive Consultant for Pink Zebra Home Scents.
The search for her family began over 12 years ago and has continued since. Then one day in late February 2017 Tiffany and Angelia received a Facebook message from Felicia Bell. The message stated that Felicia was looking for her two sisters, who grew up in Butler County. The message included birthdates, birthplaces and biological names. Tiffany told that it almost seemed unreal because she had been looking for so long and had hit so many walls in her search.
Angelia reached out to Felicia and confirmed her identity. Within an instant, the girls’ family grew beyond anything they could have ever imagined. There are 13 siblings total, of which they will meet most along with nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and their birth father at a family reunion coming up before school starts back.
“We were blessed to have been raised in a Christian foster home and raised in church. Then we were adopted and raised in church,” said Tiffany.
Tiffany said that her advice to anyone with questions about their family is to keep searching, things will work out in God’s timing.