Mother and daughter reunited in Salt Lake City after 13 years apart

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SALT LAKE CITY -- It was a reunion 13 years in the making at Salt Lake City International Airport. Anjelika Cueto was 7-years-old the last time she saw her mother, Elisia Valdez.

“It was really hard," Valdez said. "My life fell apart when they took her from me."

With her mother in and out of jail, the state took Anjelika and placed her with a foster family.

“I didn't have a hard life: I was always happy,” Cueto said.

However, she knew something was missing. So, she got on Facebook and started looking for her mother and eventually connected with her grandmother in Louisiana, who told her that her mother was in jail. Anjelika wrote her first letter to Elisia last January.

“It says, 'Hi I think I'm your daughter' and I just cried," Valdez said. "She said, 'I've been looking for you for like nine years.'"

The two have been writing letters back and forth ever since. In the meantime, Anjelika and her grandma have been planning this reunion. A day after her release from prison, Anjelika surprises her mother at the airport, introduces her to her granddaughter, and tells her they’ll be joining her on a flight to Louisiana to visit great-grandma.

“Just knowing I have a mom myself to go to if I need help or just support: Someone to love, it's a great feeling,” Cueto said.

Valdez added: “I'm complete finally after all these years. I'm complete."

Elisia Valdez is moving to Louisiana to live with her mother but says she’ll never be torn away from her daughter again. She plans to visit Utah as much as possible.



    It is sad when a young girl has a mother who is in and out of jail. How can you teach a daughter right from wrong when you don’t practice it yourself?

  • rachel

    The mom said her life fell apart when the baby got taken from her obviously it was falling apart before or the baby wouldn’t have been taken from her. At least the daughter was in foster care and taken care of hopefully the Mom stays off of drugs.

    • Star21

      Never once did it mention anything about the mother being on drugs… Don’t assume. Why is it whenever there is a positive story someone has to make it negative. I know this girl and if she saw all this negativity y’all wouldn’t be very happy.

      • Me

        Wow, you’re right! I just reread the article and it doesn’t mention drugs. I made the same assumption, that she was jailed due to drug use. Thank you for pointing that out.


        Skye Schooley was typical of the women in prison. Last week she was released from the Utah State Prison where she had served about four-and-a-half total years for a robbery and drug conviction. A family recently adopted two children whose bio-mother spent a lot of time in jail before getting sent to prison. The older of the two girls was scalded by one of the mother’s boyfriends. They are much better off without her.

    • Cheryl Lady

      People, perhaps you should listen to the audio, it states, “in and out of jail FOR DRUGS”, so no one is assuming anything, they just LISTENED.

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