Stagecoach woman reunites with daughter on Montel Williams
August 1, 2002
STAGECOACH — Since her children were taken from her 14 years ago, Sheila Mills has carried a photograph of them on her keychain, not knowing if she would see them again.
Then she received a letter in January from the Montel Williams show inviting her to reunite with her daughter Kim Gutierrez on national television.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mills, 39. “I fell to the floor — my whole trailer park could hear me screaming. I’d been looking for them.”
Gutierrez, 19, said she had been searching for her mother since she was 11. She grew up in foster care, ending up in a Catholic group girls home after she became involved with gangs at 14.
On Christmas, she was watching Montel Williams and was interested in one of the show ideas advertised. She called to follow up, but while she was on hold she heard the option of finding a lost loved. She chose it.
“I wanted to find answers to questions,” she said. “I wanted to know how she could leave her own children.”
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By Jan. 10, they had found her mother.
“I was flabbergasted,” Gutierrez said.
They met during the taping in April and the show will air today on NBC at 4 p.m.
“She’s definitely mine,” Mills noted after the two showed up for the taping dressed in similar outfits.
Despite conflicting accounts of what happened — Gutierrez remembers being abandoned in a laundromat, but Mills said Social Services took the children from their home — they are working to piece the family back together.
“I’m very glad to have her back,” Mills said. “That’s not even a question.”
Mills, who now has eight children, has also contacted her oldest son, James Licastro, but has not yet talked to the youngest of the first three, Katie.
Gutierrez keeps in contact with most of her siblings and has driven to Stagecoach from her home in El Monte, Calif., to visit her mother.
Gutierrez said she decided to straighten up her life while living in the group home. She married Luis Gutierrez a few years ago and the two have a 7-month-old daughter, Sage Nichole.
“It’s wonderful,” Gutierrez said. “It’s my own family and we’re all together.”
Mills is planning an October wedding in Stagecoach to her fiance Dale McCormack.
SO YOU KNOW
What: Montel Williams Show
When: 4 p.m. today
Where: NBC, Channel 4