Thanksgiving is upon us. A time for family members from every corner of the country to reunite, give thanks and talk politics. But for some, Thanksgiving might be bittersweet. When families are joining together, others are wondering where some relatives are even located – or alive at all.
Here are three true stories of family reunions that are sure to warm your heart this Thanksgiving:
40 years after tragedy, a baby sister is found on Facebook
In 2013, Tessa Ferguson decided she had suffered enough from the pain of the memory of her little sister being taken away some 40 years earlier. The baby girl looked at her big sister, crying with arms outstretched.
After a house fire killed Ferguson’s parents, she and her five siblings were adopted separately. Four of the siblings eventually found each other over the years, but one sibling remained missing – the baby sister.
With the help of Facebook and a “search angel,” Ferguson and her sister, Lynn, were finally reunited. But it took time, a few upsets and some help before the incredible reunion happened. Ferguson first went to Facebook with a hopeful request: Help me find my sister.
Ferguson said she was contacted by “a lot of crackpots” and didn’t know who to trust. One person who she even blocked was Char Summer, a self-described “search angel” whose hobby is helping people find lost loved ones.
After months of searching, Summers discovered the missing clue when she figured out Lynn had dropped the “Rae” from her first name and found a Lynn Bailey on Facebook. Finally, the sisters were reunited and – and their other siblings – had the family reunion they’d all had been praying for. They now email every day.
Twins separated at birth: A real-life ‘Parent Trap’
Twin sisters Anaïs and Samantha were born in South Korea and adopted by two different parents. Anaïs was raised in Paris and Brussels while Samantha was raised in New Jersey. Neither knew they were a twin.
One day, a friend of Anaïs sent her a screenshot of a girl who looked like her mirror image. Because her adoption papers said she was a single live birth, she didn’t think it could be her twin. However, the resemblance was too similar not to wonder.
She did some searching online and found Samantha in an online trailer as an actress. So she sent her a friend request on Facebook with the message: “I stalked you a bit and found out you were born on the 19th of November 1987 . . . and discovered you were adopted too. So . . . I don’t want to be too Lindsay Lohan, well . . . but . . . how to put it . . . I was wondering where you were born?”
After a few days, Samantha responded. At first she was shocked but in awe. Another concern that delayed her response was her father’s fear this could be a catfishing scam.
Eventually they had their first Skype call. What was supposed to be a 90-mintue conversation turned into 3 hours, and the twins realized how much they had in common. Their commonalities were later confirmed with a DNA test.
The twin sisters now talk every day and plan to someday live in the same city together.
Discovering a cousin 70 years after the Holocaust
Jennifer Mendelsohn recounts the story of how she helped her husband’s 95-year-old grandmother, Frieda, find relatives she never knew existed.
Frieda is a Holocaust survivor whose entire family was murdered by the Holocaust – her parents, grandfather, siblings and countless aunts, uncles and cousins. After escaping to Russia, the only family she knew was her husband.
Upon hearing that Frieda knew her mother had two sisters who moved to America before WWI, Mendelson went on a mission to find the children (if there were any) of Frieda’s aunts.
Searching online beside Frieda’s skepticism and little information, Mendelsohn found what she was looking, after two weeks of “intense sleuthing.” It turned out, Frieda had three first cousins alive.
In her first conversation with cousin Irene, Frida asked a question “weighing most heavily on her.” She asked, “Did your mother ever talk about her sister, Chaya Rojza?
To everyone’s surprise, Irene said her name was Chaya Rojza, but had started calling herself Irene Rose was she was 10.
At that moment, Frieda reached out to hold her daughter-in-law’s hand and the two “sat silently like that for a moment or two, the past and the present suddenly seamlessly connected.”
If you’re looking for a lost loved one, BeenVerified may help you with your search.