Hillary Harris, 31, searched for years for her birth family. She found her half-sister in the most unexpected place: living next door. “It was overwhelming to say the least,” Harris said in a statement. “It was a lot to take in . . . The questions are what led me to blurt out, ‘You and me have the same dad don’t we?’” Johnson recalled.
In 2012, Harris received information about her biological family from Catholic Charities. Her file had her parents listed as Bonnie Carl and Wayne Clouse. Her birth father passed away in 2010, and in his obituary, it listed a half-sister: Dawn Johnson from Greenwood, Wisconsin. She was unsuccessful in her search for the woman, until last year.
In June 2017, Dawn and Kurt moved into the house next door to Harris. They exchanged pleasantries a few times. Harris spoke with her husband about the crazy coincidence that the woman’s name was Dawn and that she was from Greenwood. She didn’t want to intrude by asking the woman’s last name. Instead, she daydreamed about the possibilities. The women had similar physical features as well.
One day in August, Harris noticed a package in their shared driveway with “Johnson” marked across the front. She knew she had found her sister. Harris’ husband, Lance, urged her to go talk to the neighbor about her discovery. Once Harris and Lance were standing in front of Dawn, Harris’ nerves got the better of her. They had a short, awkward conversation, and Harris returned home.
A few days later while Dawn was away, Harris texted her a few questions about her background. “The questions are what led me to blurt out, ‘You and me have the same dad don’t we?’” Johnson recalled. The pair talked on the phone for hours, and Dawn shared that she was raised by her stepfather, but she did meet their dad when she was 18. When Dawn arrived back home, she went to Harris’ door with a card, a bouquet of flowers, and all the photos she had of their biological father.
“It’s still unbelievable,” Johnson said. “Stunned but a warm feeling of joy all at once.” “I love that she loves my daughter Stella,” Harris said. “I love that she is kind and caring. I love that she loves me. I love that she is my sister and gives me advice. I love everything about her.”