Hillary Harris was adopted as an infant and was starting to find her family thanks to social media.
“I’d found three other half-siblings on Facebook, but I was having no luck with Dawn,” the Eau Claire, Wisconsin woman told PEOPLE.
She knew she had a half-sister, Dawn Johnson, but was beginning to lose hope that she would ever find the women with whom she shared a father.
Meet the neighbors
Harris and her husband Lance met the new neighbors who were moving in next door – a couple.
Her name was Dawn and his Kurt Casperson. But when Harris found out that she was from Greenwood “the same town where Dawn Johnson had lived according to the obituary I’d found for my father, Wayne Clouse,” Harris said.
But she was too afraid to ask Dawn her last name.
“I told my husband, ‘Her name is Dawn — what if she’s my sister?’ and we both laughed and said, ‘No way.’ No way could that be.” Or could it?
That would be just too weird, right?
One day, Dawn and Kurt had some shingles delivered to the house during renovations. Clearly, Dawn had ordered them because her name was emblazoned on the red tarp that covered the delivery.
Or at least her last name – Johnson.
“I screamed and jumped all over the house, then called Lance and said, ‘Her name is Dawn Johnson! It has to be her!’ ” Harris told PEOPLE.
That’s when Lance told his wife that it was time to go talk to the neighbors, despite Harris’ fear of rejection.
But they had to act fast since they remembered that Dawn was headed out of town soon.
An awkward question
Harris texted Johnson and asked a question based on details from her father’s obituary.
“Were you the Loyal Corn Fest queen in 1983?”
Dawn must have been really weirded out.
“LOL,” she replied, “Why are you asking that?”
Harris decided she just had to come clean – anything else was going to start sounding kind of creepy. She asked Dawn Johnson for her father’s name.
“Wayne Clouse,” texted Dawn, “but he died in 2010.”
That was it. That was the Dawn Johnson she had been searching for to no avail. She wasn’t able to find her online, but the woman had, by complete coincidence, moved in right next door!
“I started hollering and freaking out, then I called her immediately,” Harris recalled. “We were on the phone for hours that night, crying and talking. Neither of us could believe it.”
Dawn was raised by her stepfather but met Clouse when she was 18. She had never thought to ask if he had other children, so she was shocked by the whole situation.
Stranger things have happened
Dawn and Kurt had looked at more than 20 homes before they decided on the one that would even share a driveway with her half-sister.
“We are literally 20 feet apart. How does that happen?” she asked incredulously during her interview.
A year later, they shared their story with the local news and it quickly went viral because of the amazing coincidence. The two sisters are now best friends.
“We’re pretty much inseparable now and we know this was meant to be,” said Harris. “Our story is living proof that it pays not to give up. Now I tell people who are adopted and searching for parents or siblings to walk over to the house next door and ring the doorbell. You just might be amazed at what you find.”
Be sure to scroll down below to hear the incredible story from the reunited sisters!
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