Growing up was as typical as I could imagine it being for anyone else. I had a loving mother and father, a great pair of younger siblings (even though we thought we couldn’t stand each other in our early years), and I lived in a very quiet neighborhood just outside the main city boundaries. I went to public schools, made close friends who I loved to be around, and enjoyed the bliss of being young. I was just like everyone else–except for the fact that I was not biologically related to my family.
This was never a secret; for as long as I can remember, my parents were very tender and loving whenever they explained that I was adopted. And having been adopted only 7 days after my birth, it never really bothered me. In fact, I later understood that my birth and the birth of my siblings (also adopted) were miracles in the lives of my parents, who for one reason or another were unable to have children of their own.
Still, I found myself at times wondering about my family–who they were, WHERE they were, if I had siblings, how they were doing, and if I would ever meet them.
I had no clues, leads or hints of any kind. I had nothing to work from in any sort of attempt to locate my family; and being in high school with so many responsibilities and preparing for adulthood, I had no time to conduct any searches for my family either.
My doubts about ever finding the answers completely vanished the moment Troy Dunn called me. I can still remember his question as if it were still that very evening: “How would you feel about meeting your biological family?” I was stunned. I had been thinking again about my adoption just days prior to his phone call. At first I felt very nervous, but ultimately I agreed to his offer. I felt like this was the solution to my problem. I considered it one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been offered–someone who had gone through the difficult process of locating my biological family and offering me the opportunity to meet them. I could not reject his offer.
Some hesitancies came in the days immediately following my first conversation with him. I imagine this is normal when such an opportunity presents itself. Still, I found myself asking even more unanswerable questions as I traveled to meet the family I had never known. ‘What are they like? What could they be expecting of me? Will I get along with them? What happens if I don’t?’ Of course, these questions couldn’t be answered in any way besides meeting them face to face. I tried to keep positive and optimistic all throughout my traveling. And surely it paid off.
The first time I laid eyes on my biological mother felt like a dream. I could see the resemblance instantly. There was no question that this was the woman who had brought me into the world. In that moment, gratitude overwhelmed me for this woman’s sacrifice–the sacrifice of carrying my life in its first development and then letting me go. A lengthy conversation with her revealed that the circumstances surrounding my birth would not have led to a good life. My gratitude has increased and become much more personal now that I have a name and a face to thank.
My biological family can never replace my “real” (adoptive) family, but I love them for their goodness and look forward to what’s still in store for us all.
I have to say thank you to Troy and his staff for this wonderful gift they have given our family. Troy and his staff treated us like family and it made the reunion so much easier. Gail is such a blessing we keep in touch over email and the phone. We have gotten together a few times since the show and I look forward to our next visit.
I could not have asked for a better cousin she is the best I just adore her and our children are close as well. I wish I would have done this sooner in life, but I was afraid she wouldn’t want to be a part of our family. I will never let her get away; now she is stuck with us. We love her dearly.
Our family’s have become one and life couldn’t be any better…Thank you, Troy and WE tv.
— Stephanie C.
Hello everyone, it’s nice to talk to you again. How are things going with all of you? I just wanted to say thanks for everything that you guys have done for us. My dad and sister are now living with us and it is truly a blessing. My dad takes me to all my doctor’s appointments and stays with me the whole time, even to the point he sometimes gets in trouble by the nurses for being in places he’s not suppose to be. But that’s OK; I know he loves me.
My sister Jodi is now playing basketball with my middle daughter Alexis and they are doing well, Alexis won 6th grade homecoming queen and Taylor won 8th grade homecoming queen this month. Taylor, Alexis, Jordan and Jodi are all going to be in a pageant in February. And, oh yeah, Chris was in homecoming, too. He had to walk his girlfriend and he looked very handsome, but he only walked her for the Sunday dress part not for the formal part; the dads did that. David walked Alexis and my dad walked Taylor.
The kids have grown a mile since the last time that everyone has seen them and I have shrank. They say it’s the chemo, but that’s OK, I was short anyway. I’ve also lost a lot of hair and weight, but I don’t care about that either because I’m still here and that’s something they said I couldn’t do. Boy, I sure fooled them, huh?!?
David is very worried because we just got more bad news from the doctor. They told us that I have lumps in the left breast that aren’t too bad but the one’s in the right breast are in the lymph nodes under the arm and on the breast bone so we are waiting to here about that. My spirits are high and my Church is a great support system as well. My children are also wonderful, my husband and dad are great and I’m alive…so what more can a girl ask for but that one little thing.
I hope that Troy and his family and staff are all doing well. Working with everyone was wonderful, and I pray for Troy’s family and his son that is on a mission every night and hope that he stays safe a spreads the words of our heavenly father for everyone to hear. I only pray that he makes it home safe where he belongs to his loving family, who devotes their life to helping others. Troy has blessed my family in more ways than you know. You have made a great impact upon my life and for that I am forever grateful.
Thank you, I love you and you and have completed my life.
Cindy Gilmore & Doug Fairbanks, 12/22/09
After 28 years I found my son, Warren Stone. He was taken by his dad and I had no clue where he was. It was a week before Warren’s second birthday. My daughter, Holly, saw The Locator and wrote in asking for help from Troy Dunn and his tea. I had Warren’s birth certificate and Social Security number — I just didn’t know how to go about finding him.
But Troy was able to find him. We had a wonderful reunion — me, Warren, Holly and my other daughter, Chrissy. Now, we have a wonderful relationship. Warren came home for Holly’s wedding on June 13th, and gave her away — along with her stepdad. I got to meet my three grandsons and my daughter-in-law. They live in Cape Coral, FL.
If it wasn’t for The Locator, I would have never found my son. Troy made my family complete.
– Carol N.
I am 29 year old medical sales rep who has been married for about a year and a half. We began searching for my dad shortly after getting married. My biological mom passed away when I was 2 and my biological dad never knew about me. I was adopted within my biological mom’s family by my second cousin. Both my biological parents were both in the Air Force. We had a name for my dad, David J. Leonard, but that was it. We submitted a request to The Locator for help finding my dad. My first contact with The Locator was in Sept of ’08.
In Jan of ’09 I was informed that my dad had been found…but he was deceased. He died in 1996 from cardio-myopathy which he got from a case of shingles 3 years earlier. I found out that I had 2 uncles and several cousins, a new step mother, and a brother and sister!! INCREDIBLE!! Since, we have been skiing together, and have been to one cousins’ wedding. My brother, sister, and step mom are coming to town over Labor Day weekend. We all talk on the phone and Facebook. It’s been an awesome experience to get to know my new family. What’s been the most amazing thing of all this, is how comfortable everything has been. It’s like we have all know each other for years!
Before The Locator came into the picture, I wanted to find my dad for health background. My wife and I were going to be starting a family and knowing the health background was important. At the same time, we are very strong in our faith and felt that everything would be fine if we never found out who my dad is/was. Our lives are in God’s hands. Finding out who my dad was, was kind of weird. I grew up my whole life knowing I was adopted but looked at my adopted mom and dad as Mom and Dad. It was as if they were my biological parents…just shorter than me (I’m 6’4″ and my folks are 5’3″ and 5’9″). But to know the face of the woman who gave birth to me and then to FINALLY see the face of the man who I was conceived from…that was weird. A blessing by ALL means…but weird. I don’t know how or what Troy does, but he is definitely great at finding people!
My advice to people who want to find lost family members or friends is first PRAY about it and to never give up. No one knows what God’s plans are or what He has in store for us. But all things work together for good for those who love the Lord.
Just a little update. We started this search for my dad because we were planning on starting a family sometime. We didn’t know when we would start trying, but we definitely wanted to have kids. Well, at the end of March we found out that we are expecting a little girl at the end of November! We are very excited. I had an opportunity to go on a mission trip to South Africa in early August. That trip just reaffirmed how blessed we are as Americans. God is so good! 2009 has been an incredible year and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the years to come! God bless you all!>
Hello everyone! I am Nycole, the second oldest out of the five of us. I am 28 years old and currently live in a small town outside of San Diego, California.
My main reason for contacting Troy and his team was to find my baby sister Sara. The last time I can truly remember seeing her she was just a baby. My Aunt Valarie gave me the idea to contact Troy and his team. I love my Auntie and not wanting to delay I quickly got in touch with Troy and his team.
They decided to take our story and I will be forever grateful. With Troy’s help he brought Sara to us. I am very happy with how our story ended and how it is continuing on now. I was very fortunate in that Troy accepted our case, or I might have given up all hope of finding Sara.
The time that we spend together is very special. We are quickly making up any lost memories with new fond ones. Finding Sara has completed our family. It is truly amazing because it is as though we were never separated. We talk, and argue like sisters. We share clothes and do each others make-up. Things I now know I was missing out on.
The best gift of all was sharing in Desiree’s wedding out in Colorado. All of us were able to support her and stand at her wedding. Mom was able to walk her daughter down the aisle and hand her off to her now husband. It was a joyous and serene moment all at once. There was not a dry eye in the house.
I would truly encourage you to find who you are looking for. Whether it is a positive outcome like our story, or not, it is still closure. I wish you all the best, good luck! – Nycole Kiefer
My name is Stephanie Leo. I am 29 years old. I am happily married to my awesome husband Chris. We have two children Brianna, and Ryan. They are 13 and 6 years of age. I am the oldest of five sisters! On August 15, 2007 my sister Nycole found me after 22 years of being separated. Her and my third sister, Desiree, was adopted together. Melissa and Sara (my other sisters as well!!) went to different homes. I was raised by my dad in Las Vegas.
Two days after finding me, Nycole found Melissa. My first conversation with Nycole was six hours long! Desiree was so excited she drove to Oklahoma and visited with me that same weekend. We both love the mall and taking silly photos in their booth! A short time later we planned a reunion in Las Vegas! Although my dad raised me, we stayed in touch with our mother and her family. Because of that my sisters were able to meet their mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles etc. It was a very emotional time, but as sisters I know we bonded, heart to heart, and hurt to hurt.
But our unit was never complete until Nycole had this idea to write to Troy and his staff at The Locator to find Sara. We were beside ourselves when they chose our show! We didn’t even know until the last minute that they had found her.
I cant put in words what its like to hug all of your sisters at the same time, for the first time! It was amazing. My mom finally got her wish, to have all of her girls together again. You have no idea how heartbreaking it was to see, and feel her pain as she cried for her daughters, year after year. Always wondering. And finally to have the answer to our prayers.
The show was very gentle with all of us so we wouldn’t get to emotional, there was an unspoken level of understanding. I hope everyone knows how grateful I truly am! We are all alike in our ways, mannerisms, and looks. I feel like a whole person again. I cry every time I watch the show.
A few years ago I would’ve been happy just knowing they are alive and well. I never expected this. I searched a very long time and got nowhere. And here we all are. God sent Troy and his staff to us, maybe to strengthen my faith because I was starting to think I would never have my sisters again. Miracles happen. I have proof!
My only regret is that our Grandmother Elaine (my mom’s mom) passed away before she got to meet Sara. Grandma was my bestest friend in the whole world. I think maybe she knew we were going to find Sara, and she was at peace with that. I think it is so awesome building new, happy, loving memories together. We have all been given a second chance. Thank you Troy and to all of your staff from my very large family to yours! Everyone please keep watching!
“It’s so strange!” That phrase kept coming into my mind often. First the phone call from someone I had never heard of saying my birth sister asked him to find me, then a film crew showing up on April fool’s day, (I didn’t know if it would really happen or was a trick!), then flying out to meet my birth sister without knowing anything about her! And then several people stopping me and saying that they saw me on TV. It really was so strange!
I grew up knowing that I was adopted since the age of five, but my parents made me feel special and told me that they had chosen me. I have one sister who was not adopted and is one year younger. After my parents died a few years ago, I received my birth file and started really looking for my birth family. My husband of 33 years has always been supportive my doing this. We have two grown sons and a daughter who is 11. I was unable to find my birth family with all my searching on the Internet and after meeting them, I found out that the papers listed the wrong names for my birth mother and father, so I wouldn’t have ever found them if it weren’t for Troy Dunn.
One evening, Troy Dunn called and said my sister wanted to find me. After a few days, I called him and said that I would be willing to be on TV in order to meet my birth sister. That’s when the “it’s so strange” really started coming into my head. Soon, I was being interviewed by Troy and then whisked away by plane to meet my birth sister. I was so nervous! Then to add to the surprise, Troy didn’t let me know that I would be meeting my birth family as well, especially my birth mother. I cried so much when I learned that she was still alive and I could meet her and hug her! Of course, I was already crying with joy from meeting my birth sister, Sandy. Since then we have visited every few months and called each other on the phone often. An extra blessing came with the reunion also: our daughter Sarah went with me on the flight and met her cousin, Sandy’s grand-daughter, who is the same age and grade as Sarah; they fast became friends and almost inseparable.
Another blessing was due to Troy himself. The questions he asked me during the entire process helped me to realize what I had been feeling inside and how this meeting could fill some holes that I had for years in me. I believe people will suppress thoughts such as finding my birth family because maybe it would never happen or happen with sad results. But if I had not been open to this, I would have missed out on such a wonderful blessing, a new family to love! Troy was great to work with and I especially enjoyed talking with his mom on the phone since she was adopted also. The entire experience was difficult, scary, fun and wonderful!
– Jennie Lorensen
My episode is about the day I found a sister I had never seen. I was not having any success finding her, and the search became more serious when my mom was diagnosed with a serious cancer. So, when we found a very successful people finder, Troy Dunn, we were much more hopeful. Troy told me all of the different outcomes we might have with our search — my sister might be deceased, she might never be found, she might not want to meet us, but we had the best outcome…she had started looking for us!
Jennie couldn’t really look for us while her adopted parents were around without offending them, so I feel better about not having looked for her sooner; it was really the best time, now that her adoptive parents are gone. To see my mom finally get to see her daughter that she hadn’t even seen at birth was wonderful. And every time we visit her I still love seeing my mom and Jennie greet each other with a long hug. My sister and I have so much in common-we both have two sons a few years apart, we married the same type of man–hard workers, good providers with gentle, kind natures. Jennie’s young daughter is the same age as my granddaughter and the two instantly bonded. They now have a new cousin and best friend.
We now have family reunions much more often, always based around visiting with my sister. We went up to her beautiful ranch in northern California one month after we met her and family came from San Diego, Washington and Texas. We also all met up-14 of us–to go camping together at Yosemite, and we have lots more visits planned.
Advise for others afraid to search–no fear! There’s only fear until you search, then all the hope and excitement takes over. I found out that before we searched, my sister and her husband had come down to San Diego for a vacation, not knowing her long lost family lived here. They went to the zoo right near my house, where we had just gone a week earlier. So don’t hold off searching, you might be blessed like us!
– Sandra Ashman
One main thing that I always worried and prayed for was a good home for my baby. The first time I saw my daughter Jennie, I knew she was raised in a good family. Her adopted mother loved her, but didn’t want her to find her real mother, so it was best to wait.
My daughter Jennie is a fine and loving woman and she was raised in a loving family. I guess that’s the main thing all mothers worry about, not whether she has lots of money, but a proper upbringing. Maybe that sounds old fashioned, but to have an education, church, learn manners, cleanliness, there’s so many ways a child can turn. You want your child to be special and Jennie is just such a person. Thank you, Troy Dunn, for finding my daughter Jennie, for her family and ours to be one, such blessings!
– Penny Bennett