JoEllen Cottrell

Long-Lost Siblings Discover One Another Living Across The Street

May 26, 2009 04:26 PM
by Rachel Balik
A woman looking for the brother her mother gave up for adoption in 1977 discovered he has been her neighbor for more than two years.

“A Weight Has Been Lifted Off Me”

JoEllen Cottrell gave up her son for adoption when she was 16 years old, and has spent the last 32 years trying to find him. Unlike some birth parents who do not wish to be found, Cottrell always regretted the day her son was taken away from her, CNN reported. “I only got to hold him for a split second,” she said. She went on to have three daughters, and made sure to tell them about their brother.

One of those daughters, Candace Eloph, decided to share the story of her lost brother while chatting with her neighbor, 32-year-old Jamie Wheat. The two have been living across the street from one another in Shreveport, Louisiana, for more than two years. She told Wheat that her red-haired mother was 16 when she gave up a boy for adoption. Wheat told Eloph that he was adopted, and that his red-haired birth mother was 16 when she gave him up.

On CBS’ “The Early Show,” the siblings said that as they discovered more coincidences, they began to feel strongly that they were siblings. A DNA test confirmed their suspicions. All parties involved are overjoyed. Wheat’s adoptive mother told the local news station KTBS that, “It just almost knocked me out for the joy.”

Cottrell told CBS that she may move back to Louisiana to be with her children, and Wheat said, “I feel like a weight has been lifted off me.”

Related Topic: Lost relatives found

In England, a similar scenario played out when an elderly brother and sister who had not seen each other since they were in their twenties discovered that they were living four miles apart. The brother, George Culwick, 87, began traveling when he was younger and lost track of his sister, Lucy Heenan, 88. He had absolutely no idea where she was, the Telegraph reported, until he discovered at a family ancestry meeting that up until a few years ago, she had been living four miles away from him.

In Oregon, two women who were switched at birth found one another nearly 60 years later and took DNA tests to determine their true parentage. An elderly woman who had known the mother of one of them suggested the test. Normally, switched-at-birth situations are traumatic, but DeeAnn Angell Shafer and Kay Rene Qualls call each other “swisters” and have become good friends.

For those who don’t find their adoptive families by accident, the Internet may be able to fill in the blanks. Many adoptees have found their birth families using the Web.

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