No matter how much they drive us insane, for most of us, it is unimaginable to think of a life without our families. Even with all their quirks, it is their love and laughter we crave during the good times, and who we turn to for inspiration and support during the bad!
For Donna Massie Wysong and Vanessa Smiley, the value of their loving families goes even deeper. As newborns, both sisters, who are 11-months apart in age, were abandoned shortly after their births for reasons they might never know for sure.
Sadly, Donna was quite literally left to die wrapped in a dirty rag inside a box near Norfolk, VA. It is a miracle that they were both found and embraced by loving families who raised them like their own.
There was no lack of love in their lives, even if they didn't know that the other existed, and this is perhaps the reason why Donna waited till she was 43-years old to take a DNA test.
The test was prompted after Donna watched a story on her local station about an abandoned baby in her area; this after all was Donna's story too, she related to that helpless newborn and all of a sudden had the need to find out more about her biological family. She remembers thinking:
"If no one wants her, I'll keep her. That's what happened to me."
She turned to her local news station to share her personal story which led to Angela Trammel, a genealogical investigator with Kin Finder Group to reach out and help her with her biological family research. It took over a year, but Angela was able to finally bring some good news to Donna saying she had a biological younger sister named Vanessa.
When the news was revealed to Vanessa, she was slightly unsettled at first. She remembers thinking:
"I saw that this woman had hired a private investigator, and I didn't know if she was going to show up at my house and I've got kids. I thought I'd better talk to her and tell her not to come."
Vanessa did reach out to Donna, but instead of telling her to stay away, she instantly ended up falling in love with a sister she never knew she had for over 40 years. The two started talking frequently via email, social media, and video, often staying up until 3am just catching up.
The two finally decided to meet in Washington, DC and eventually even moved their families to be closer to each other. According to Vanessa:
"I've lost 43 years without you. I'm not going to lose one more day."
Angela, the genealogical investigator, still had two more surprises for the sisters. The first included the news that their biological mother was still alive. But after making contact with her, the sisters soon found her to be mean and unwilling to embrace her daughters. It was heartbreaking news, and for Vanessa:
"Because if anything I want to be a good wife and mama, and I don't want to be thought of like this person."
The second surprise included the news that Donna and Vanessa had a full biological younger brother too who wasn't abandoned by the biological mother. Thankfully, the brother was more willing to meet his sisters and share in this joy he had missed out on for all his life up until now.
Here are Vanessa and Donna meeting for the first time at the Washington DC airport!
It took four decades, but this monumental reunion is something Vanessa, Donna, and their brother will cherish for the rest of their lives.
And even though they might not have any childhood stories of annoying each other or playing together, they will have a lifetime as adults to make new memories that include each of their spouses and kids too!