Siblings Reunited at West Baden Springs Hotel

Charlie Wonnell anxiously awaits
the arrival of his siblings. 
The suspense was killing Charlie Wonnell; he was giddy with excitement and a bundle of nerves all at the same time. Just a week and a half ago he had made contact with his long lost brother and sister and now they were minutes away from joining him at the West Baden Springs Hotel. This was the moment he had imagined for 49 years.

The trio was taken away from their parents in 1967 when they were preschoolers and put in an orphanage. Oldest sister Susan (just five years old at the time) remembers being fiercely protective of her younger brothers and feeling like she needed to become the mother figure.

The siblings believed they would be kept together. Their hearts were broken as they were each adopted out to different families. Charlie was the first to go and his new family moved him to the West Coast.

He always remembered Tommy and Susan and, in fact, named his own children after them.  He looked for the pair for years but, with a birth name of Johnson, he kept running into roadblocks. It all changed when he tried’s new DNA testing. He didn’t get an immediate hit but made connections with some third cousins and a woman he calls “an angel” who jumped into help.  The real break came when they found a post Susan had left on an adoption website way back in 2009.

The group didn’t waste any time; they immediately made plans to meet up just a week later. Charlie, who frequents the resort, knew it would be an ideal place to host the homecoming. The resort has always been a special place for his family and he wanted to share it with them. It turns out Tommy lives just a few hours away and Susan flew in from New Jersey.

The moment the siblings are reunited after 49 years.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the group converged in the expansive atrium. With video cameras rolling and flashes going off right and left, they ran towards each other and immediately embraced in a group hug.

The group had a lot of catching up to do.

After the initial shock wore off, it was time to share updates. After all, they had missed out on nearly 50 years of each other’s lives. They talked about everything from kids and careers to their memories of their time spent together.

Charlie summed up the experience best, “It’s like winning the Powerball.”

What a great looking family!

  For a video version of this story please go to: