She couldn’t believe her eyes. She found a package outside, and her heart raced when she saw the name that was written on it. “Could this be real?” She wondered. After so many years of searching without results, was it possible that she had finally found what she so desperately wanted? It seemed too good to be true, but it was certainly not impossible. But before she could start celebrating, she had to be absolutely certain.
It seemed as though all of Hillary Harris’ years of hard work had finally paid off. When she was in kindergarten, she had learned that her parents had adopted her when she was an infant. Fortunately, that didn’t matter, because her adoptive parents were absolutely wonderful. But her world changed when she was 13 years old. She felt empty after losing her adoptive mother. She assumed that she could fill the void by learning about her biological parents.
Harris spent most of her teenage years searching online for any clues that could lead her to her biological parents, but she found very little. She tried Ancestry.com by the time she was in college. Unfortunately, the free version wasn’t much help, and being a college student, she couldn’t exactly afford to pay extra. So, she gave up her search and moved on. Then, the urge to reconnect with her bloodline resurfaced once again.
Harris married her true love, Lance, and in 2012, she gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Stella. For her daughter’s sake, she decided to look up her family’s health history again. But this time, she chose to try a new approach. This meant that she had to find the agency that dealt with her adoption. She did an extensive online search to narrow down her search in the county she was born in. Then she found Catholic Charities. She reached out to them to see if they had any information.
Harris filled out all the information she had regarding her biological parents and her adoption using the online request form. Eventually, the agency called and they had some great news. She had an open adoption, which allowed them to send her all of the information that was available. So, Harris waited quite impatiently until the packet of information finally arrived. But this wasn’t the end of her search for her birth parents.
The packet showed the names of her biological parents and bits of information on them. Harris discovered that Wayne Clouse, her biological dad, had passed in 2010. There was an obituary in the packet, which also contained the names of Clouse’s kids. It turns out that she had two half-sisters named Renee and Dawn. She even had two half-brothers from her mom’s side, so she still had a lot of searching to do in order to be reunited with her blood relatives.
After a couple of years, Harris managed to connect with her half-brothers. But, finding her half-sisters from her dad’s side had proven to be quite a challenge. She conducted an extensive search using her sister’s maiden name, Clouse, and her married name, which Harris found in their father’s obituary. All she dug up was that in 1983, Dawn won the Miss Loyal Corn Fest. At this point, it appeared as though she’d hit a roadblock in her search, and she was about ready to give up.
A married couple moved into the house next door a few years later. The home needed a lot of work, so the couple had opted to renovate the home first before moving in. Harris knew she’d have to get along well with her new neighbors because the two houses shared a driveway. Her husband Lance introduced himself to them, but Harris hadn’t gotten the chance yet. But her daughter Stella formed a friendship with the couple next door right away.
Stella was mesmerized by the neighbors. She seemed particularly intrigued by Dawn, who was the wife. Stella would walk over to the house while Dawn was busy working on repairs, and she’d offered to help by pulling weeds or washing the screen. Fortunately, Dawn seemed to be very nice. Then, Harris noticed a truck delivering materials to her neighbors. There was a banner on the package, which had her neighbors’ last name: Johnson. Harris was stunned.
Harris learned from her husband Lance that her neighbor’s name was Dawn Johnson and that she was from Greenwood. Ironically, one of her half-sisters was also from Greenwood, and was named Dawn Johnson, at least, according to the obituary. What were the odds that her sister would become her next-door neighbor? Harris was excited and scared. But what if she was wrong? She needed to be certain, so she sent Dawn a text.
Dawn had given Harris her number so they could call her if something happened to her house. But the texts she received from Harris were odd. “Your last name is Johnson and you’re from Greenwood, right?” Dawn said yes. “Were you Miss Loyal Corn Fest in 1983?” Dawn wondered how Harris knew this, but replied yes. “Who is your dad?” Dawn texted, “Wayne Clouse. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2010.” Dawn hadn’t realized that her responses to those unusual texts had become a source of excitement for Harris.
Harris, Lance, and Stella jumped for joy after reading Dawn’s responses, and shouted, “It’s her! It’s her!” Then, Harris asked Dawn to give her a call. She was terrified, but she settled her nervousness. When Dawn reached out, Harris had to explain to her about her adoption, and her search for her biological father, but before she could finish, Dawn shouted, “You and I have the same dad?” Harris explained to her about her dad’s obituary, which left Dawn in a state of disbelief.
Dawn never knew that she had a half-sister or that she was given up. But in fairness, there was a lot that Dawn didn’t know about her dad, Wayne. She had grown up with two sisters, Renee and Dana, and it wasn’t until she was 14 that she learned that Renee’s dad was actually their stepdad. When she was 18, she met Wayne, her biological father. But their relationship hadn’t been easy.
Dawn was in her 30s when she and Wayne started getting close, but by this point, he had gotten sick, and tried his best to bond with her. Then, a decade later, he developed cancer and passed away. Then, Dawn’s mom also got sick and passed away too. This left Dawn feeling horribly empty inside. But that had all changed once she met her long-lost sister and her niece.
The day after they spoke on the phone, Dawn visited Harris at her house, and she brought flowers and a card that conveyed how happy she was that they’d found each other. Dawn shared photos of their father and got to know each other better. They spent a lot of time together and got closer. Dawn was happy to have Stella in her life too, since her own kids were all grown. Now, the sisters and their families are inseparable.