Internet search ends in reunion

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 1999

When Linda Spain gave up her newborn baby for adoption 34 years ago, she never dreamed she would ever see her again.

Thursday, December 16, 1999

When Linda Spain gave up her newborn baby for adoption 34 years ago, she never dreamed she would ever see her again. But this year, she and her other children got the best Christmas present they could ever imagine.

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After six years of searching and a lifetime of wondering, Spain’s youngest daughter, Char Skogheim, found her sister.

Skogheim found out about her sister when she was 9, and often dreamed of what her sister would be like.

Karin Westerman always knew she was adopted; her parents explained it to her when she was 4. She had no idea if she had any siblings or if her birth parents were even alive. She said she was fortunate enough to have parents who were open and supportive of her curiosity about her birth parents.

The search begins

About six years ago, Skogheim tried through a couple Internet adoption sites to look for her sister. She checked the ads occasionally, but wasn’t really sure she’d have any luck. That changed this summer.

In St. Augustine, Fla., Westerman got a computer for her anniversary in June. By July, she had Internet service and the adoption sites were her first stop.

Skogheim returned from a family vacation to a phone call from Florida.

&uot;Are you looking for a sister?&uot; the voice on the other end of the phone asked. &uot;I think I’m the one.&uot;

&uot;I was standing, but I had to sit down when I found out it was my sister,&uot; Skogheim said.

Westerman admitted that she was nervous to call. Obviously the family wanted to find her because they posted the ad, but she was still uncertain what to expect. But, she continued to hope for the best, and that’s exactly what she got.

Waiting for all the paperwork to clear and confirm Westerman was Spain’s daughter and Skogheim’s sister, the two sisters began their friendship. They called each other weekly and communicated over the Internet.

Just last week, the family was finally reunited.

The reunion

Skogheim went to the Twin Cities to celebrate her anniversary with her husband. But it was anything but relaxing.

&uot;We’re sitting in the play, and I just couldn’t wait for it to be done,&uot; Skogheim said.

She returned to the hotel to meet her sister for the first time. Both said the meeting was a mixture of laughter and tears. The pair have been smiling ever since.

&uot;Steve was right behind me with the video camera,&uot; Skogheim said. In addition to a copy of the video tape, Skogheim and Westerman have been taking a lot of pictures for their memory books.

Skogheim has been introducing Westerman to some of her new family members and showing her the sights of the town. They’ve also learned more about each other and their similarities.

&uot;We have the same hands and the same hair,&uot; Skogheim said. &uot;And she looks so much like Mom.&uot;

Westerman had more in common with her natural mother than Spain knew. Like Spain, Westerman became pregnant at a young age and gave her daughter up for adoption. She understood perfectly the agony Westerman experienced three decades ago.

&uot;She’s 16 now. Hopefully she’ll look for me someday,&uot; Westerman said.

For Spain, her decision was the most difficult one she’s ever faced.

&uot;I felt really bad about it. I cried the whole day. I was still living with my parents. It would be better for her to be with someone who could take care of her,&uot; Spain said. She’s confident she did the right thing. &uot;They did a good job,&uot; Spain said, squeezing Westerman’s hand.

Extended family

Sunday night, Westerman got to meet almost everyone in the family. She found her half-brother Bob Spain to be a quiet, but kind man. She also met her half-sister on her father’s side.

&uot;I’m used to being the baby of the family. Now I’m the oldest,&uot; Westerman said. Her adoptive parents had two sons.

Unfortunately, Westerman will never get a chance to meet her natural father. He died of a heart attack in his 30s. She met his children and visited his grave.

&uot;I’ll never get to meet him, but I still got mom,&uot; Westerman said, rubbing her mother’s knee while tears welled in Spain’s eyes.

It was a moment particularly touching to Spain, who said she never dreamed she’d ever see her daughter.

&uot;My life is pretty much fulfilled now,&uot; Spain said, wiping away tears.

The other women said their dreams have been realized as well.

&uot;I always had a desire in my heart to find my birth parents,&uot; Westerman said. &uot;It was weird growing up and people would say, ‘I know a girl that looks just like you.’ I would wonder if it was my sister.&uot;

Skogheim had the same experiences and feelings growing up.

But now the search is over. And through it, the women found not only a long-lost family member, but a new friend.