Five brothers and sisters were adopted separately in infancy never knowing each other existed. After 50 years, they are finally reunited only to find out some of them had actually run into each other at Wal-Mart.
Buddine Bullinger, 56, only knew her biological mother’s name but had never made any attempt to contact her. Bullinger had confided the information about her mother to one of her co-workers at Wal-Mart.
One day in January 2013, the co-worker told Bullinger that her mother’s obituary was in the local paper. In her obituary, it listed a surviving daughter, Deidre Handtmann, 50. Bullinger said that she had resisted contacting Handtmann,
Several weeks later though, Bullinger changed her mind and asked the funeral home listed in the obituary to help her reach out to her unknown sister. Speaking to the Associated Press, Handtmann said, February 19, 2013 was the first time I heard her voice. I will never forget that day.”
The two sisters made the decision to finally meet face to face at Handtmann’s home in Bismarck, N.D. Bullinger revealed how nervous she was and what it was like meeting her sister for the first time.
“It was unbelievable. We are in our 50s. I was so nervous to meet her, and when I opened that door, I didn’t know what to say. You don’t know what to do. It was so special.”
Deidre Handtmann had found her mother and reconnected with her 19 years before her mother’s death. She said that in all those years her mother never once told her about any other children she’d given up for adoption.
The two sisters decided to sign release agreements with the adoption agency that handled their cases. They asked them to see if they could find out if they had any other siblings.
Handtmann said that the agency did in fact find three more siblings. Handtmann said, “Oh, my goodness, they kept calling. ‘Oh, a boy. Oh, a girl. Oh, a boy.’” They had one brother who lived in Tennessee and a sister who lived in California.
The biggest shock though was when they found out about their brother, John Maixner who lived in Dickinson not far from them. He shopped at the Wal-Mart where Bullinger worked.
In June 2013, Handtmann and Maixner met for the first time at a local restaurant. Handtmann brought a picture of Bullinger with her and said that Maixner had an “aha moment” when he saw the picture.
Maixner, 57, said, “I about fell over because I’d seen her at the Wal-Mart. My mouth just dropped open. I just couldn’t believe it.”
The five siblings reunited at Handtmann’s home in October, 2013. Brother, John Blankendall, 53, travelled from Tennessee while sister, Sandy Watkins, 54 attended their reunion from California.
Bullinger said, “It gives me goose bumps. So many emotions, you cried and you laughed. It’s just wonderful. I haven’t quit smiling.”
The five siblings all took a DNA test which revealed that they are full siblings. Not only do they have the same mother, but they also have the same biological father.
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