Kaepernick’s birth mother Heidi Russo was 19 when he was born and knew she couldn’t provide the life she wanted for her son. She selected Rick and Teresa Kaepernick after learning that they’d lost two children of their own.
“I knew they were the right people immediately,” Russo told Yahoo! Sports. “The first thing Teresa did when she met me was give me a hug. They were such giving, wonderful people from the moment I met them.”
After the adoption, Russo exchanged letters with the Kaepernicks until Colin was 6 or 7. She began to try to reconnect with him when he was in college at the University of Nevada. Although the two have exchanged a few messages, they have not met up. She did reunite with Rick and Teresa at a game in Denver in August.
“It was like meeting old friends after 25 years,” Russo said to Yahoo! Sports. “You couldn’t ask for better people than Rick and Teresa, how they have loved him and taken care of him. As a parent, you never think that anyone could love your child as much as you do, but they have.”
Although Russo (an athlete herself) has not met Kaepernick, she says she’ll continue to support him and watch every game. No doubt she’ll be tuning in to this weekend’s Super Bowl!
“It’s very emotional for me to watch him… I just hope and pray for him,” she said.
Check out last year’s Super Bowl post to read about other NFL players and coaches with adoption connections!
UPDATE: ESPN released a commentary piece about Kaepernick’s aodption story from one of its writers (who is also an adoptive father himself) after this post was first published.