Adopted woman searches for her long-lost sister only to learn she's living next door
"It was overwhelming to say the least," Hillary Harris said.
In a wild coincidence, a woman who was searching for her long-lost sister didn't have to look too far.
In 2012, Hillary Harris, 31, said she learned through adoption records that she had a half-sister out in the world named Dawn Johnson.
Five years later, Harris shockingly discovered that Johnson had been living right next door to her for two months.
"It was overwhelming to say the least," Harris said in a statement. "It was a lot to take in."
Harris of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, said she had moved to the neighborhood in 2005. Harris had been adopted as an infant by her parents Lee Hardy and Rochelle Hardy. Six years ago, she received her adoption information from Catholic Charities. It was then when she learned the identity of her birth parents: Bonnie Carl and Wayne Clouse.
"I also learned in that packet that my birth father Wayne had passed in 2010," Harris told "GMA." "They included his obituary. In his obituary is where I learned that my half-sister Dawn [Johnson] was from Greenwood, Wisconsin, and was the Loyal Corn Festival Queen in the 80s."
Going off the little information she had, Harris began to search for Johnson, whose father was also Wayne Clouse, making the two women half sisters.
I immediately had a suspicion
Harris had little luck but then, in June 2017, Harris' husband, Lance, informed her that a woman named Dawn from Greenwood had just moved into the house next door to them in Eau Claire.
"I immediately had a suspicion since I knew from my birth father’s obituary said that he had a daughter named Dawn from Greenwood," Harris said.
Harris obtained Johnson's cellphone number and texted her one day in August 2017 while Johnson was out of town. At this point, the two women had only met as neighbors and in passing.
Johnson told "GMA" that Harris began asking her questions about her birth father via text.
"The questions are what led me to blurt out, 'You and me have the same dad don’t we?'" Johnson recalled.
I love that she loves me
Johnson said she was raised by her stepfather and did not meet her birth father, Wayne Clouse, until she was 18. She was unaware that he had other children.
The following day, Johnson returned home and walked next door to give Harris a bouquet of flowers and a hug.
"[It's] still unbelievable," Johnson said. "Stunned but a warm feeling of joy all at once."
Harris said that tracking down Johnson has completed her puzzle.
"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."
She added, "We have no future plans, other than to be sisters forever."
Harris said she has also met another half sister, Renee, who is Johnson's biological sister.