Since Elisa was a baby, her parents have sent a letter and photographs to her biological mother each year through the Kirsh & Kirsh adoption agency.
In 2011, curious to know more about her origins, Elisa traveled to Florida to meet her biological mother and her extended family. Elisa's birth-grandmother and mom told the van Meurs that they were willing to meet Elisa anywhere in the U.S. and Elisa mentioned she would like to meet close to Disneyworld.
Elisa had one wish. She wanted to meet all her family members on this first "meet and greet" except her birth mom. "She thought it would be too much for her to also meet her birth mom then," said van Meurs. She met her birth mom the next morning at Gatorland, a small theme park.
Meeting them was strange at first and she was astonished to recognize familiar features in her mother and grandfather's faces.
"My nose is the same!" she said.
She's glad that they met: "For me, it feels like happiness because I really wanted to know how they looked like (and) because they really know how you are." But now they just go on with their lives, she said, except for the occasional call on Christmas Day and they became Facebook friends. "If (I) go there maybe too much, my mother will miss me or something like that."
Asked what she thinks her life would be like had she not been adopted, Elisa said, "I never thought about it, because now I live here."
While she looks forward to traveling to the Alps, her favorite holiday destination is America. Every two years or so, they visit Bart van Meurs' sister near Detroit, where Elisa enjoys roller-skating, eating hamburgers and French fries, "all the bad stuff," she said.
"In America I feel at home, and when I'm in Holland I feel at home, too."
Sobriety after prison
In Florida, Susan has been out of prison and sober for four years. She works several jobs, has an apartment and is raising her 3-year-old daughter with her fiancée, the girl's father.
She and her American family stay in touch with her son, now 7, and his adoptive family in the Netherlands. They send DVDs and photo albums, and traveled to the U.S. in 2011 and again this February. Susan's daughter, the one who rejected her son before his birth, has even had a change of heart. "She doesn't care about the race anymore," Susan said. "She loves her brother."
It's not always easy for Susan to see photos of the son she gave up. "There's always something missing. There's always something gone but I am glad I get to see him growing up. Yes, I am."
And she loves the boy's adoptive parents, especially his mother. "I love her to death. She is just ... she's his mom, and that's amazing to watch.
"I don't want girls to be scared," Susan said of other birth mothers considering giving their children up for adoption. "This isn't an ending. It's a beginning. For me, I thought it was the end of the world, and it wasn't.
"I never thought it would be like this."