August 5th was an emotional day for Deniece Saylor. She was reunited with her brother who was placed for adoption in January of 1953. Her meeting with Rex Johnsen took place exactly 29 years after their mother’s passing.
Deniece, along with three of her sisters, have been working all of those years to find their lost brother. After the girls’ father passed away, their mother Marilyan revealed a secret she had been living with since she was a teenager. As a young, unwed mother she felt she had no choice but to let someone else raise the child. Marilyan died only three short months later without sharing the details of the adoption.
The daughters scoured through records at the Lincoln Public Library. They searched birth records and yearbooks. The girls petitioned the court three times before finally getting the sealed adoption file opened. Once they had Rex’s name from the file, Saylor’s daughter Amy found him on Facebook. At a celebration of their reunion on August 27 at Kickpoo Park, Rex said, “You know, they looked for me for 29 years and I just can’t fathom that. A blessing that I have is that they didn’t give up.” The siblings learned that the families had been very closely connected. They were surprised their paths hadn’t crossed before.
Rex was an athlete raised by Helen and Vernon Johnsen. Helen had been a student at Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing with the wife of the doctor who delivered Marilyan’s baby boy. The doctor had made all of the adoption arrangements.
The siblings are considering DNA testing to find out whether or not they share the same father. DNA is being used successfully by adoptees to find their biological siblings, as well as other family members.