An Oregon woman who spent a lifetime looking for her biological parents has finally been reunited with the father she never knew.
Although Debi Vinson always knew she was adopted — she was the only dark-haired child among her adoptive blonde sisters — and she spent her childhood sifting through family photos in search of someone – anyone – who resembled her, Greenville News reported.
Vinson was 8 months old when her mother gave her up in 1965 to a military family in Florida. Soon after, Vinson’s adoptive mother gave birth to twin girls and then a third girl.
The family traveled the world as their father, a fighter pilot in the Air Force, served the country – with haunts in Spain, England and Germany, before returning to Florida, where Vinson attended high school.
Vinson’s adoptive parents died within three years of each other when she was in her early 20s. The tragedy of losing the only parents she’d known would eventually prompt her to search for her biological family.
Vinson’s biological mother, Coral Dion, had given her contact information to the adoption agency, making it easy for Vinson to find her.
“It was amazing and quite beautiful,” Vinson recalled of meeting her. “I look just like her.”
The meeting made Vinson “feel more rooted than before,” she said.
Dion then died about seven years later of stomach cancer, which sent Vinson into another search – this time, for her biological father. Unfortunately, all she had was his name and a brief description of what he looked like in his youth – tall, good-looking man who wore nice shoes and worked in insurance. Even with a private detective, Vinson kept running into dead ends.
Last year, after getting in touch with a distant cousin, Vinson was able to connect with her half-sister, Kitty Holland, living in St. Matthews, South Carolina. Both women had sent saliva samples to the genealogy website 23AndMe.
“I started shaking,” Holland told Greenville News.
The discovery finally led Vinson to her father, who was living in Greenville, South Carolina. In 2017, at the age of 51, Vinson finally met him in the flesh.
William Foster was shocked when he found out he had another daughter – but in a good way.
“Heaven knows it was quite a shock to me. But I was so delighted. And it’s worked out wonderfully,” Foster said. “Debi has been accepted by the family. She’s a delightful young lady and I’m real proud of her.
Speaking to Foster for the first time “healed” her, Vinson said.
“I was so excited that he was alive,” she said. “It was amazing gift from God.”
The pair has been making up for lost time with multiple visits since the first encounter, Foster said.
“I missed all those years of her growing up and we made up for a lot of lost time,” he said.
Vinson, on the other hand, is grateful to her new family for welcoming her with open arms.
“I feel very blessed,” she said.
The entire family gathered in Greenville for Foster’s 90th birthday on Sept. 29.
(H/T: Greenville News)