Siblings Reunite 80 Years After Depression-Era Adoption

She searched for every record of a Kansas City woman who died in a car accident in 1928 to no avail. Her brother-in-law found her adoption papers in the Kansas City Hall in the 1960s, but was rebuffed when she tried to get the records unsealed.

"They would not give me any information," she said.

Little did she know that her biological siblings were also trying their hardest to find out what happened to their baby sister.

Barbara said that about 10 years ago, Exie-- then around 80 years old -- went to the home for children where the three youngest Chrisman children had been taken looking for information. Still in operation, the home would not even let her in without a court order.

Exie was also interviewed for a newspaper story around the same time in hopes readers would have clues about her search. Nothing came in.

Adoption Searches Make Case for Unsealing Records

Then, about six weeks ago, Barbara's family found an old census record that included Lillian Chrisman. She let her son post the information on Ancestry.com. And they waited.

Within weeks, Evelyn's daughter found the posting and called Evelyn and Mary to tell them that their baby sister had been found after 80 years.

"It was just that quick," Barbara said. "It just blew my mind."

Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, told ABCNews.com that the family's story was remarkable, but further evidence that outdated laws sealing adoption records are unnecessary and hurtful.

"There was no reason to keep these human beings from knowing each other," he said.

The most common reason adoption records, Pertman said, is to protect the birth mother's privacy.

"For an 80-year-old, isn't that a little bit silly?" he asked.

Calling the siblings reunion a "fabulous story," Pertman said not many separated siblings perservere for eight decades, let alone find each other after all that time.

"This is very, very powerful," he said. "Everybody wants to know where they came from."

Now that the family is whole again, they intend to keep it that way.The five siblings keep in touch over the phone and Barbara said she's already been invted to the Denver area this summer, where Evelyn and Mary live. She's also planning to go along on a family vacation to California with her sisters.

Her only regret is that her husband didn't live to see the reunion. One of seven himself, Brett Miller was part of two sets of twins in his own family.

"I wish he was here now," Barbara said, "so I could say 'Hey I've got twins now too!"

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