As Colin Kaepernick has skyrocketed to NFL notoriety, taking over the starting quarterback job for the first-place San Francisco 49ers, his mother has watched excitedly, swelling with pride. There remains one problem for Heidi Russo, however: She's never met her adult son.
The story was told in detail on Tuesday by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports. Russo, 44, is Kaepernick's birth mother. With Colin's father not around, Russo, 19 at the time, gave Colin up for adoption because she wanted a better life for him. She personally selected Rick and Teresa Kaepernick to adopt him, and, although she and her son have had sporadic written contact recently -- she has yet to meet Colin.
"I have to respect" his decision, she says.
"It was like meeting old friends after 25 years," she said. "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.
"... You can see that everything he wants and everything he has worked for is coming together. That's something that any parent would be happy to see for their child."
Kaepernick declined to be interviewed for the Yahoo! story. But the decision not to meet with his birth mother is one he has lived with for a long time. In October of 2010, when he was still quarterbacking the University of Nevada-Reno and NFL stardom was only a dream, he told ESPN about his dilemma.
"That's something I'm still contemplating," he said. "To be honest, I'm not too sure if I want to or don't want to. It's something I want to do, but at the same time, I feel it might be a little bit awkward."
Two years later, a lot more people are excited to watch Kaepernick play football. No one more so than Heidi Russo.
"Until he tells me otherwise, I'll continue supporting him," Russo said. "It's very emotional for me to watch him, especially (the 49ers' Week 12 victory over the New Orleans Saints) and you could see how happy he was. I just hope and pray for him."