Stories

After Years of Searching, Long-Lost Sisters Discover Each Other in the Last Place They Thought to Look

When Hillary Harris first embarked on her search for her long-lost sister, Dawn Johnson, she thought that she would have to scour the country to find her. She used every possible resource at her disposal and left no stone unturned. Little did she know that her quest would lead her on the most unexpected journey, with the most unpredictable twist of fate.

Image: Leader Telegram

Sometimes in life, no matter how hard you search for the missing piece of the puzzle, you’ll eventually find it in the last place you look. As Dawn looked further afield to find her long-lost sister, she didn’t realize her sister was closer than she would have ever imagined. As fate intervened, let’s unravel the journey that eventually brought these two souls together.

Soul Sisters

As Hillary Harris happily embraced her sister, Dawn Johnson in this heartwarming snap, it’s clear that there’s an unbreakable bond between the duo. In fact, they look like they’ve known each other since the day they were born. Of course, things weren’t always this way for these soul sisters.

Image: ABC News

Actually, for most of their lives, these siblings were blissfully unaware of each other’s existence. As they both started out on completely different paths, it took a long and winding journey to get to this point. So let’s delve deeper into their soulful stories and see how their separate paths finally collided.

Hillary’s Story

Having grown up in Elmwood, Wisconsin, Hillary still has fond memories of her childhood. She grew up surrounded by a loving and warm family, and couldn’t have wished for anything else in life. She was especially close to her parents, who made sure she always felt loved and secure.

Image: BBC News

It’s fair to say that Hillary was a happy and outgoing young girl. In fact, everything about her childhood in Wisconsin was pretty regular. Although she couldn’t have asked for a better family, there was just thing that was constantly on the back of her mind, growing up.

Some Revealing News

You see, when Hillary was old enough, her parents decided the time was right to reveal the truth to her about her past. So, one day, they sat her down, and dropped the bombshell that she was in fact, adopted as a baby. The adoption happened when she was just one month old.

Image: BBC News

Although Hillary loved her adopted parents, this life-changing news had a deep effect on her. As she grew up and moved on with her life, no matter how hard she tried, she always felt inside like a little piece of her was missing. She would often wonder about her biological parents.

Growing Up

While these thoughts were always lurking in the back of Hillary’s mind, she was still surrounded by a loving family. So, she continued to work hard at high school and eventually graduated in 2005. Then the time came for her to start searching for the perfect college to pursue her studies.

Hillary filtered her search by the subject they offered and the best location for her. Little did she know that the college she finally chose would bring her closer to the next step in her journey. Hillary eventually decided to study in Eau Claire in Wisconsin and moved there in 2005. Then in 2008, she met Lance Harris, and the pair hit it off instantly and eventually decided to tie the knot.

Finding Their Home

Later that year, in October 2011, the newlyweds decided to look for the perfect house. After scouring the market, they finally settled on a special house in Eau Claire. They did notice that this house had a shared driveway with a rental house next door. So they just got used to a never-ending stream of new neighbors every year. Back then, they thought nothing of it.

Image: Facebook / Hillary Harris

As time passed, Hillary discovered another piece of news that was about to rock their worlds once again. She found out she was pregnant, and the happy couple beamed with joy. Still, during the pregnancy, Hillary started to think more deeply about her own childhood.

Something Was Missing

You see, while Hillary was over the moon to welcome a new bundle of joy into their lives, it also made her wonder more about her real parents. She went through some soul-searching and realized there would always be one glaring thing that was missing in her life.

Image: Facebook / Hillary Harris

Hillary still had fond memories of her adopted parents, but she realized that the time was finally right to go back to her roots. She had an overwhelming desire to find out more about where she came from, and about her real family, so that she could introduce them to the next generation.

Embarking on Her Search

After Hillary decided to uncover her family history, she got in touch with the adoption agency. It was then that she received a few revelations about where she came from. When she delved deeper into her file, Hillary was stunned to discover that her birth mother had left her a letter.

Image: Caters News Agency

As she slowly opened the letter, she soon learned that her birth father, Wayne Clouse had sadly passed away in 2010. It then listed that she had other relatives in Wisconsin. In fact, she had a half-sister. All that she knew at that point was that her name was Dawn Johnson and she was a former “Cornfest Queen.”

Following Every Lead

Once Hillary uncovered the news about her biological family history, she began to search far and wide for her long-long sister. She used all her available resources, followed every possible lead and searched the internet and social media to try and track down Dawn Johnson.

Image: BBC News

After numerous attempts, Hillary was still having no luck. She later admitted, “I was beginning to think that I’d never find her.” Nonetheless, at the other side of her search, her half-sister sister, Dawn Johnson was very much there. She was just blissfully unaware that her half-sister was searching for her.

Dawn’s Story

Dawn Johnson grew up in the small town of Greenwood in Wisconsin. Her parents were not married, but she was raised in a loving environment by her mother and her step-father. Growing up, Dawn didn’t know who her biological dad was. But at the age of 18, her curiosity got the better of her.

Image: BBC News

After learning more about her real father, Dawn decided to track him down. His name was Wayne Clouse. As she was finally reunited with her father, she later said, “It never occurred to me to ask if he had other kids.” At that point, Dawn believed tracking down her father would be the only life-changing twist in her journey.

Deciding To Move

Hillary later pursued a career as a medical lab assistant. She also got married to Kurt Casperson and now has two grown-up kids of her own. It was only in 2017 that the couple decided to have a change of scenery and move. As she started to scour the market and look for a new place to live, they went to endless viewings until they found the perfect spot.

Image: BBC News

Then one day, Hillary finally found her dream home through Craigslist. So, they uprooted and traveled 63 miles from Greenwood to Eau Claire. When she visited the house, the first thing that caught her eye was that it had a shared driveway. Back then, her initial thought was simply, “whose going to take care of the snow in the winter.”

An Unexpected Visitor

Little did Dawn know that her world was about to be turned upside down. After fate led her to that house in Eau Claire, Dawn was then greeted by an unexpected visitor. One day Dawn was walking outside, and she attracted the attention of a little girl named Stella who lived next door.

Image: Caters News Agency

With her childlike curiosity and unquestioning innocence, the little girl, Stella, was drawn to Dawn. Perhaps it was intuition, or perhaps Stella knew something no one else did. But since the two houses shared the same driveway, Stella was curious to run over and find out more about Dawn.

A Watchful Eye

By this point, Hillary had gotten used to having a steady stream of new neighbors moving in and out of the rental house every year. So, after living in the house for six years, she was a little weary of constantly greeting new residents, especially as they would only be temporary. Or so she thought.

Image: BBC News

Hillary later admitted that she initially didn’t like the fact that her precious little girl kept running over to the other house. Perhaps she was right to be wary of strangers. But her daughter was drawn to Dawn and it seemed harmless enough. So, Hillary let Stella run next door but made sure she kept a watchful eye out the window.

Meeting The Neighbors

Although Hillary wasn’t so concerned with meeting the new residents, luckily for her, her husband was a little more neighborly. So one day he came home to Hillary and told her that he bumped into the new neighbor on the driveway. At this point, Hillary still wasn’t phased, but she politely asked, “Ok, what’s her name?”

Image: BBC News

To her amazement, her husband replied with the name that had been buzzing in her mind for the last few years, “Dawn.” She also learned that Dawn was from Greenwood and her husband’s name was Kurt Casperson. At that point, all the pieces of the puzzle started to click in her mind.

Months of Uncertainty

As Hillary’s curiosity went into overdrive, she immediately exclaimed to her husband “Her name is Dawn. What if she’s my sister?” Still, they both quickly brushed that thought off and said, “No way.’ No way could that be.” Or could it?

Image: BBC News

Although Hillary’s thoughts were now racing out of control, she was still too shy to ask Dawn straight away. After two months of soul-wrenching and uncertainty, Hillary then looked down onto her driveway and saw a delivery of a box of shingles. Emblazoned on the side of the box, was a big red banner that shook her to the core. The banner read “Johnson.”

Uncovering The Truth

Hillary was taken aback. She recalls how “I screamed and jumped all over the house, Her name is Dawn Johnson! It has to be her!” It was at that point that Hillary finally summoned the courage to go over to talk to her. But even though she had all the missing pieces of the puzzle, she was too nervous, stressed and reluctant to ask her about her family history.

Image: BBC News

Hillary initially was fearful of how Dawn would react. She was also fearful of revealing a big family secret. Even more so, she was afraid of rejection. But later that night she finally plucked up the courage to send Dawn an SMS. Dawn received the message that Hillary had been bursting to send for so long. It read, “Were you the Loyal Cornfest queen in 1983?”

Connecting The Puzzle

Dawn didn’t think anything of the message at the time. So she simply brushed it off and replied “LOL. Why are you asking that?” Hillary then followed up with the monumental question. “Who is your birth father?” Dawn shook her to the core when she replied, “Wayne Clouse, but he passed away in 2010.”

Image: BBC News

It was at that moment that everything began to sink in for Hillary. She recalls how “I started hollering and freaking out, then I called her immediately.” Understandably, they “were on the phone for hours that night, crying and talking. Neither of us could believe it.”

An Emotional Reunion

After the sisters had finally connected the missing pieces of the puzzle, things got pretty emotional for the pair. After years of searching for her long-lost half-sister, Hillary finally got the sibling she had wished for. So after speaking on the phone the whole night, the long-lost sisters finally met in person.

Image: BBC News

As they both opened their front doors and rushed out into their shared driveway, they couldn’t wait to embrace each other. After all this time, they found out they weren’t just neighbors, they were family. Understandably, they were both filled with a roller coaster of emotions, from tear-filled hugs and laughter to happiness, shock, and joy.

A Moment of Reflection

After Hillary and Dawn had finally met in person, they both took a moment to process the whole story. Dawn still can’t forget the life-changing moment Hillary told her “I know who my biological parents are. You and I have the same dad, don’t we.”

It was then that everything clicked for Dawn too and she uttered the fateful words, “My gosh, I’m your sister.” Dawn recalls how her stomach dropped and “It was just such an eerie feeling.” Hillary was equally as taken aback and said, even now “I can feel my body sinking now just talking about it.”

Against All The Odds

As they both tried to come to terms with it all, Hillary still couldn’t get the thought out of her head. She exclaimed, “How on earth could sister move next door to me?” Hillary thought she would have to search far and wide across the country to find her half-sister. It really was against all the odds.

Image: ABC News

After all, both sisters had grown up in different towns and moved to Eau Claire for different reasons. Hillary had moved at a young age and started a family there. Dawn had decided to uproot her life at the age of 50 and moved 63 miles to that house with her husband in Eau Claire. Perhaps it really was fate!

Their Families Reaction

Although the sisters had finally found each other, they both had husbands and families of their own. The question remained, how did their husbands react to this bombshell? Well after receiving the life-changing news, both Dawn’s husband Kurt and Hillary’s husband Lance were equally as blown away.

Image: Rebel Circus

Kurt recalls how “I was just pacing, pacing and pacing. How could it be?” After all, he had been married to Dawn for many years and had no idea she had any long-lost siblings. Although Hillary’s husband Lance knew she had a sister, he was equally as shocked that her sister was their neighbor. He exclaimed, “What are the chances?” They all just “couldn’t believe it.”

What Was Next for the Siblings

After taking some time to process the fact that they had found each other against all the odds, the next thought on both of their minds was, “Now what?” They had found each other, but they both wondered “What would the dynamics be like now?”

Image: Daily Mail

Thankfully, after the sisters had reunited, they both welcomed each other into their lives and houses with open arms. Dawn even welcomed her new sister in the most touching way. She brought her a bunch of flowers and a card and gushed, “Welcome sis I’m glad to meet you.” She then showed her nostalgic photos of their biological father that Hillary had never met.

An Unbreakable Bond

After finding out the were related by blood, both sisters wanted to make up for lost time. They couldn’t wait to get to know each other like family too. They both had so much to say and couldn’t wait to talk and share their past experiences and life stories with each other.

Image: BBC News

Soon enough, the long-lost sisters started to spend a lot of time with each other. Hillary even said, “We’re pretty much inseparable now and we know this was meant to be.” Dawn also gushed, “We’re very fortunate that we’ve had a very good experience and have a really good connection together.”

A Neighborly Message

Now that Hillary had taken the time to let their story sink in, she reflected how “Our story is living proof that it pays not to give up.” She also had another thought, as she remembers how complacent she had become and how reluctant she had been to meet the new neighbors.

Image: Facebook / Hillary Harris

Dawn also hadn’t introduced herself to Hillary and Lance when she moved in either. So she exclaimed how “People really don’t know each other anymore.” They just are too busy with each other’s lives,” She added how people should “Be kind to your neighbor as you never know it could be your sister you’ve been looking for.”

Going Public

After the sisters’ worlds were turned upside down, understandably they wanted to take the time and opportunity to get to know each other and be a part of their lives. The story was pretty newsworthy, but it was a personal experience for the siblings and their families at the time.

However, a year later the siblings had a change of heart. One day, a friend of Hillary asked if she could share the story about how they found each other with a local television station. It was at that moment, the sisters agreed to go public. As the siblings jumped into the limelight, their worlds were changed once again and so began a new chapter in their intriguing story.