New Brunswick

Family reunion: Sisters find each other half a world apart

Two sisters — both named Sharon — who never met are preparing to meet for the first time and spend Canada Day together in Fredericton.

Mother revealed on death bed in 1998 that she gave up another daughter for adoption 30 years earlier

Sharon Dennis of Fredericton is preparing to meet her sister Sharon Rein of South Africa for the first time. (CBC)

Two sisters — both named Sharon — who never met are preparing to meet for the first time and spend Canada Day together in Fredericton.

In 1998, Sharon Rein's mother revealed her deepest secret on her death bed in South Africa — she had another daughter more than 30 years earlier, who she had put up for adoption.

Sharon Rein, 58, is coming to Fredericton from South Africa to meet her 56-year-old sister who was given up for adoption. (Submitted by Sharon Dennis)
Rein began looking for her long-lost sister throughout South Africa and beyond. But after years of searching, Rein gave up hope of ever finding the sister she never knew she had.

"In my mind I thought maybe it's not true," said 58-year-old Rein.

"Maybe my mom was making it all up."

But while Rein may have been giving up hope in South Africa, her sister in Fredericton was also on the case.

Curious about her roots, the Fredericton woman started using social media and her adoption papers to look for her biological family, joining a Facebook group called Baby Come Home where she posted her story.

An amateur genealogist in Greece provided some help and eventually, a match was found: Sharon Dennis of Fredericton, meet your sister Sharon Rein of South Africa.

Sharon Dennis's birth-parents gave her up for adoption because they didn't feel they had the resources to care for a third child. (Submitted by Sharon Dennis)
The first time Dennis saw a photograph of her mother and father was when the genealogist texted her a photograph while she was getting her hair done. She looked at the photo and she says she could tell right away that she and her mother shared the same hair.

The genealogist also provided her with a telephone number of her long-lost sister.

"I made myself a cup of tea and took a deep breath," said Dennis.

"I didn't know what to expect on the other side but I immediately sensed love and welcome and happiness and the connection was there right from the start."

"It's such a special feeling to actually know that I was being sought out, that they were trying to find me," said younger sister Dennis, 56, whose adoptive parents also named her Sharon.

It's such a special feeling to actually know that I was being sought out.- Sharon Dennis

"That's probably the most special part. Because I almost thought if I did find my biological family would they even know me, would they want to know me? How awkward would it all be?"

"But it hasn't been that way at all. It's been really wonderful actually."

After decades of separation and years of searching, the two sisters named Sharon are preparing to meet in Fredericton and spend Canada Day together catching up on lifetimes spent apart.

With files from Shane Fowler