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SALT LAKE CITY — In 1984, a young mother of one lovingly placed her second child — a daughter — for adoption. Given the name of Keri, her adoptive parents spent the first four days of her life unaware that she was deaf.
Not wanting to hold anything from their special daughter, Keri's parents let her know at an early age that she had been adopted. Her mother told Keri about some letters her birth mother had written to her. Unfortunately, she had misplaced the letters and could not remember where they were.
Keri recounted, “One day, when I was 13 years old, I was going through a random box of papers. I discovered four letters from my birth mother. One of them was written to me after the discovery of my deafness. She wrote that she did not give me up for adoption because of my deafness. She spoke some loving words in her letters, saying that she would love to meet me when the time is right. The non-identifying information also revealed that I had an older sibling.”
In another home, in another town, 7-year-old Kourtney had a conversation with her mother that she would not forget. In this conversation, she was told that she had a younger sister who was placed for adoption.
As I got older, I was curious if we were in the same town going to the same college, would I recognize her? Every time someone would say 'you look so much like so-and-so,' I would immediately think, 'Is she my sister?'
Kourtney recounted, “As I got older, I was curious if we were in the same town going to the same college, would I recognize her? Every time someone would say 'you look so much like so-and-so,' I would immediately think, 'Is she my sister?' I would go out of my way to find the person they were talking about and casually ask questions to find out if she was adopted."
"I didn’t share my story with many people," she said. "My four brothers after me, whom my mom kept, had no idea that there was a sister out there. Growing up with four brothers being the oldest and only girl, I longed for a little sister.”
Feeling drawn to the words her birth mother wrote, Keri kept the letters in a safe place, referring to them often. Keri recounted reading them so often that she had memorized every word contained in each letter.
“I felt so much love radiating from those letters," Keri wrote. "I always wondered about my older sibling. I knew it was an older sister, because often at times I could feel my spirit being connected deeply with some other spirit that truly felt like my sister.”
After many years of wondering about the other, the two sisters individually began searching.
About six years ago, Kourtney contacted LDS Social Services and was disappointingly told she would need to wait for her sister to make contact. For the next six years, Kourtney did the only thing she knew would help — she prayed.
The waiting would soon come to an end for the two sisters. This past October, Keri felt a prompting to read her birth mother’s letters yet again. This time, however, a business card fell out of one of the letters.
“In the thousand times I read them, it was not there before,” Keri said. “On the card, it was a social worker name. I Googled her name and found her on Facebook. I asked her if she remembered a deaf baby being adopted in 1984. To my astonishment, she remembered me and I asked for help in locating my birth family. She said she would help, but would connect me only if the birth family was interested in doing so.”
Over the course of a week, the social worker began a search. Working at the Family History Center in Salt Lake, she came across Kourtney's profile on ancestry.com — something Kourtney recalled having only recently activating. Upon asking a series of questions, it was found that Keri and Kourtney were sisters.
“On Nov. 4 of this year, my sister contacted me through Facebook," Kourtney said. "It should have been the Fourth of July because that is how it felt; like the excitement of the fireworks, the liberation of freedom. I found out that my sister was also deaf.”
Upon hearing the news about her sister's deafness, Kourtney was immediately filled with gratitude to the Lord as she felt he had prepared her for this. As of recently, Kourtney has felt the need to learn sign language. She purchased “Signing Time” videos and learned all of the children signs so she could communicate with her baby. Little did she know it will also serve to communicate with her adopted sister. Kourtney has since begun attending weekly sign language classes.
I was in awe how much I looked like her and my birth mother. I just knew. The spirit spoke to me: ‘this is your flesh and blood — your family.'
About connecting with her sister, Keri said, “I was in awe how much I looked like her and my birth mother. I just knew. The spirit spoke to me: ‘this is your flesh and blood — your family.’ I have no words to describe the feeling I had when my sister messaged me back on Facebook saying that she is indeed my older sister and she had been looking for me for years. A wave of joy crashed over me as I sobbed and messaged back how relieved I was and so happy to have found her and that she was interested in connecting.
"Since then, I have connected with my birth mother and found that I have four younger brothers, a niece and five nephews! My family has just gotten so much bigger, and I am loving each moment of it.”
The two sisters have yet to meet in person and are hoping to meet in Kourtney's home town of Cedar City for Christmas. Wanting her husband and five children to share in the joy, Keri is hoping to be able to bring them along with her.
If you would like to help the families get together for Christmas, there is an account* set up at Wells Fargo Bank, under Kourtney and Keri Reunion, and you also can contact Kourtney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by Arianne, "like" her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @arimom5, or visit her blog, timetofititin.com.