Donny Ballard, 60, grew up in a loving foster home, but he always longed to meet his biological mother.
"I used to walk on the beach and look at the sunrise and sunset and see the stars and think who is my mom? Who is my family? Who are they?" Ballard told InsideEdition.com.
Ballard was given up for adoption at birth, so all he had to go by in his search was his mother's name on his birth certificate. But with the help of his foster sister, Ballard began searching on Ancestry.com. It would take seven years.
"I had always wanted to see my mom and family to see who I was, who I looked like," Ballard explained. "Did I have their smile? Did I have their laugh?"
Eventually, Ballard connected with a relative on Facebook with whom he had matched on Ancestry.com. The relative reached out to her aunt, Alice Bradford, and told her she might have a biological brother.
"It threw me off for a minute, but I told her I would ask my mother and get back to her," Bradford told T&T Creative Media. "I said to my mama, 'It's okay, you can tell us,' and she just started breaking down and crying. She said she had had a son, but her own mother had forced her to give the child up at birth for adoption.”
After giving birth to Donny, Dorothy Marie Pierce-Cohen went on to marry and have five more children. But she never stopped thinking about her first child and where he might be.
Once he had found his mother, Ballard wasted no time in driving from his home in Atlanta to Tennessee to meet her in person. The connection was instant. The two embraced in a hug they both had waited a lifetime for.
"I have gone to bed at night for many, many years thinking: Who is she? Where is she? And she embraced me and said she loved me," Ballard said. "She embraced me and said she had thought about me every day, and I told her the same."
"This is my mama, this is who I am, this is my DNA," Ballard said.
Ballard learned that his mom had two other sons who had died when they were young, which made the reunion even more emotional for his three biological sisters.
The reunion was also emotional for his three sisters, who could see their brothers in Ballard.
"My little sister, Alice, came up to me at the fireplace and said, 'It’s like you never left,'" Ballard said. "I believe that I walked back in with the two brothers that had passed. I feel like my sisters saw them in me, what they may look like now."
Now reunited, Ballard can't wait to spend his birthday with his mom for the very first time, as well as Mother's Day. And the experience of finding her has changed his life.
"From this day forward, I believe in miracles," he said.