In 1951, Therese McDonough, a young woman in Denver, became pregnant out of wedlock. Since she was Catholic and her boyfriend was Protestant, her family forbid marriage, and, as was the custom at that time, she was sent to a home for unwed mothers in Kansas City to avoid bringing shame on her family.
In March, 1952, she gave birth to a daughter, who was placed for adoption. Therese returned to Denver, and shortly after, eloped with a man she had been dating for two weeks named Carl Chubb. Therese and Carl went on to have 5 children of their own, beginning with twin girls, Mary & Maggi. The children learned at a young age that they had a half-sister, but no one knew anything at all about her and the children's curiosity was discouraged. She remained a mystery for over 50 years.
Mary & Maggi had always wondered about their half-sister and often talked about trying to find her. But they had so little information about her, and with Therese's passing in 1990, there was little hope of piecing the puzzle together.
Flash forward to November, 2016. Mary received a letter from an attorney in Kansas City, informing her of the existence of a half-sister who wanted to establish contact with the family, and offering, if she or other members of the family wished, to provide contact information. I arrived home just as Mary was opening the letter - she was standing in the middle of the kitchen, repeating "Oh my God!" over and over, and it was several minutes before she could calm down enough to tell me what was going on.
After a call to the attorney, and many calls to family members, Mary & Maggi contacted their sister Shelley, first by Facebook, then for many hours by telephone and skype. Shelley wanted to know everything about her mother, and had been trying for 40 years to track down the family. And of course Mary & Maggi wanted to know everything about Shelley. Mary & Maggi were able to provide a lot of background, but were also amazed at how much Shelley knew about the family from her research, including much that Mary & Maggi weren't aware of. And they discovered that for 17 of those missing years, Shelley had been living near Fort Collins, and had unknowingly crossed paths with many family members over the years.
The reunion has been a joyous one. Mary, Maggi & Shelley connected like the sisters they are, and are now sharing their lives and stories regularly. And Mary & Maggi are continually delighted to find memories of their mother in Shelley's appearance, behavior and preferences. They will be traveling to Arizona to meet their long lost sister in person this coming spring, and are celebrating this Christmas season with an unexpected, but long wished-for, expansion of the family circle.