Adoptions
Sisters have sweet reunion with mom over 40 years after being separated
Starla and Jeannie had given up hope they'd ever find their mother. Then out of nowhere, a stranger sent them one of their old childhood photos online, hoping to complete the puzzle.
Irene Markianou
12.02.21

People use social media for all types of reasons, one being to connect with friends and relatives from the past. In the story below, amazingly, it even helped reunite a family after four decades of being apart.

Unsplash - Kelly Sikkema
Source:
Unsplash - Kelly Sikkema

Lani is from Thailand. In the early 70s she met an American man, who had signed up with the Air Force and had been deployed in Vietnam at the time.

The two fell in love and, eventually, they got married and went to the US, where their first child was born.

“They went to Columbus, Ohio, in 1973 where Starla was born,” the couple’s second daughter, Jeannie, said. “Then dad got stationed in England when she was pregnant with me. I was born there, and that’s where they got divorced.”

YouTube - KMBC 9
Source:
YouTube - KMBC 9

When the couple split up, the father got full custody of the two children aged one and two at the time.

It seems that Lani didn’t speak any English and, since the girls were half American, they thought they would be better off in the states with their father.

Unsplash - Diego Gonzales
Source:
Unsplash - Diego Gonzales

But, unlike what usually happens, the girls’ father never spoke ill of their mother. At the same time, however, he didn’t exactly help them find her when they started trying to locate her.

“When I sit back and I think of everything, I think he just tried to make it look like he helped,” Jeannie told ABC News. “He was trying to protect us, or he was scared he was going to lose his baby girls. They always say there are three sides to the story. His side, her side and the truth.”

YouTube - KMBC 9
Source:
YouTube - KMBC 9

So, given the very little information the girls had about their mother, their research was always fruitless. And that’s when they decided they should probably give up.

“We thought, ‘We can’t keep doing this anymore. We can’t keep doing this to ourselves. We have to accept that we’ll probably never meet her. It was a chapter in our life that was never going to be finished,” Starla said.

YouTube - KMBC 9
Source:
YouTube - KMBC 9

But just then, out of nowhere, they got a message on Facebook from their mom’s current husband. It was a photo of the girls when they were only babies, just before they got separated from their mother.

The girls couldn’t believe it. They exchanged numbers and talked in order to make sure they were all parts of the same story, and when they confirmed they were, they video chatted.

YouTube - KMBC 9
Source:
YouTube - KMBC 9

“Lani wanted to find them but she didn’t know how to and because she had such limited information there weren’t any diligent searches,” Mark Szarmach explained. “But she’s often cried herself to sleep and talked about her daughters and how she has to find them someday.”

Turns out, Mark had decided to help his wife search for the girls using Facebook. He eventually found Jeannie’s profile, but what confirmed everything is when he found the same baby picture his wife carried around for decades in one of her Facebook photo albums.

He told ABC News:

“I came running out of the bedroom and said, ‘Honey you’ve got to come see this.’ I showed her that picture and she just started bawling.”

Unsplash - Kari Shea
Source:
Unsplash - Kari Shea

After an emotional virtual reunion, Mark and Lani flew to Kansas City to meet the two women in person.

They all cried tears of joy that day, and they kept repeating that one should never give up hope.

YouTube - KMBC 9
Source:
YouTube - KMBC 9

Watch the video below to see Lani’s reunion with her long-lost daughters!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Source: YouTube – KMBC 9, ABC News

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By Irene Markianou
hi@sbly.com
Irene Markianou is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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