For years, Barbara Sammons and her siblings heard their mother talk about Gladys, their younger sister who was adopted by another family when she was 4 1/2 months old.
"My mom said before she died, 'She will find you some day,' " Mrs. Sammons, 63, recalled. " 'She will look you up' -- and she did."
On Saturday, Mrs. Sammons met her youngest sibling, Lois Ferrell of Perrysburg, who was born Gladys Mae Harris but was raised as Lois Marie McCarty.
Ms. Ferrell, 56, walked up the front porch steps of Mrs. Sammons' East Toledo home with her fiance, two of her children and their spouses, and four grandchildren at her side.
"Are you Lois?" Mrs. Sammons asked.
"Yes," her newfound sister replied.
"I've been trying to find you," Mrs. Sammons said. "I couldn't find you anywhere."
Her brother Harold Harris was next in line for a hug.
"You know I gave up on you a couple years back," he told Ms. Ferrell.
"You did?" she asked.
They laughed and smiled, introduced children and grandchildren, in-laws, and great-grandchildren, and shared family photographs. Both told stories of how they had searched for the other.
"We've been looking for her for as long as I can remember," said Chris Harris, whose late father, James Harris, was Ms. Ferrell's older brother. "I've been on the computer many times looking for her, but I was always looking for Gladys Mae."
Finally finding his sister "would've been great news to my Dad if he was still around," Mr. Harris said, adding that his father died last year.
Jolene Schettler, a daughter of James Harris, introduced herself and her oldest daughter to Ms. Ferrell.
"I'm James' daughter, and this is my daughter, Violet, after your mom," Ms. Schettler said, referring to her grandmother and Ms. Ferrell's biological mother, Violet Harris.
Both Violet Harris and her husband, Virgil Harris, have passed away.
Both included "Gladys" among the list of their surviving children in their obituaries -- one of many clues that helped lead Ms. Ferrell to her long-lost family.
Ms. Ferrell said her adoptive mother never hid that she was adopted and always assured her she would tell her whatever she could if Ms. Ferrell decided to try to find her biological family.
Ms. Ferrell's daughter, Angela Fillioe, did much of the research for her mother, ultimately gathering enough information to get a story published April 30 in The Blade that quickly led to Mrs. Sammons in East Toledo -- not far at all from her Perrysburg home.
"I couldn't believe it," Ms. Ferrell said. "I didn't know if they were still living here in town or anything. Everybody thought they were in Michigan. They didn't know where they were, so it's like this is kind of cool. They live right here in town, so I can see them whenever I want to now."
Her adoptive father is deceased, but her adoptive mother is still living in Florida.
"When I told her that we had found them, she was really happy that I had finally found them," Ms. Ferrell said.
She wanted to find her biological family in part because she wanted to learn about their medical history. She also had a longing to know them as so many adopted people do.
"It's just kind of nice to know now that I do have a family -- it's an extended family -- and now instead of just having my two brothers and one sister I was adopted with, now I have a bigger family," she said.
"And it's going to be a bigger wedding," her fiance Todd Pittenger added.
Ms. Ferrell and Mr. Pittenger plan to be married Aug. 18.
Mr. Pittenger too was adopted at a young age and hopes to one day find his biological family. He said he has less information to go on than Ms. Ferrell did, though.
"One of these days, we're going to start looking for his parents," she said with a smile.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-724-6129.