In a remarkable story of homecoming, a Utah man has reunited with his birth mother all thanks to Facebook.
Benjamin Hulleberg, a middle school substitute teacher, always knew that he had been adopted. He also knew that his biological mother’s first name was Holly and that he had always been curious about meeting her one day.
Similarly, Holly Shearer had never forgotten the baby she placed for adoption on Thanksgiving Day, 20 years prior.
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“He was always on my mind,” the now 36-year-old told Good Morning America. “More so on holidays and his birthday —roller coaster of emotions.” Shearer admits she thought about Benjamin “all the time” and had regularly been receiving occasional updates in the form of letters from his adopted parents, Brian and Angela.
How Benjamin Came Face-to-Face With His Birth Mother, Two Decades Later
As the letters from Brian and Angela started to slow, and Holly’s curiosity grew, she decided to use the reach of social media to finally muster up the courage to reach out to her son.
Thanks to information shared with her through Brian and Angela’s notes over the years, Holly was able to find Benjamin’s Facebook profile.
“He was 18 when I found him and I was very hesitant,” says Holly. “He had so much going on in his life. … The last thing I wanted to do is to throw a wrench in [it]. So I just watched from a distance.”
Despite having expressed interest in finding his biological mother, Benjamin was unaware she was also looking for him.
How Facebook Helped Reunite a Mother and Son
The young man signed up with an adoption registry and took a DNA test in the hopes of finding his mother. But in today’s world, sometimes it just takes a little bit of Facebook luck:
Recounting the social media interaction to Good Morning America, Benjamin said he could remember “the exact place that I was at when I got the message. I was at work. I was a machine operator and I remember I was in machine No. 15.”
Benjamin said it “hit me like a load of bricks,” when his mom responded, explaining who she was. “I was crying. It was all very positive emotions. But to me, this is a day I had been waiting for the past 20 years of my life and to imagine that it was finally happening was outrageous. It was a lot to take in.”
It is difficult to imagine the flurry of emotions that must have come with a message like this, on both ends. However, Benjamin was quick to set up a meeting with his biological mother. “He asked to meet, like right away, which I was like, shocked a little bit,” Holly remembers. “I wasn’t expecting that but he wanted to meet right away. And so we planned a dinner the next day to meet at Red Robin with both of our families.”
Benjamin said he was “not willing to wait any longer,” having already waited for two decades.
Holly says she met with Brian and Angela first, before meeting her son. She says after talking for a few minutes, Benjamin got to the house and met his mother for the first time. “He walked up and tapped me on the shoulder and joy just overflowed me, and we just sat hugging for about five minutes and crying and it just — I can’t believe that it happened.”
“When I saw her, she stood up and she gave me a hug and I cried,” says Benjamin. I just looked at her and I was like, ‘You’re real, like you’re in front of me.’ And it was surreal. I would definitely say it was a dream come true.”
But Wait, Their Beautiful Rekindled Story Gets Even Quirkier
In a strange twist of fate, it turns out the two had been in closer proximity than either ever realized.
Holly was a medical assistant at the Heart Center of St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City — where Benjamin had been volunteering. Specifically at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
“Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work,” said Holly. “So I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, and had no idea that we were so close.”
Benjamin admitted that meeting his biological family and meeting his half-siblings and obviously his biological mom, was “very healing” for him. Speaking on the unpredictability of the situation, he added “don’t give up hope.”