“I was not willing to wait any longer. I'd waited 20 years and that was long enough for me," said Benjamin.
After two decades of having only one piece of information about his birth mother—her first name—Benjamin Hulleberg has finally reunited with her.
The middle school substitute teacher was always curious to know more than just her first name, Holly. He knew that he had been adopted by his parents, Angela and Brian Hulleberg, from a very young age, according to Good Morning America.
“It was always a very positive conversation,” the 20-year-old said. “It was my parents either expressing gratitude for Holly or me talking about how I'm grateful for her and how I want to meet her one day.”
On the other hand, Holly Shearer never stopped thinking about the baby she had placed for adoption on Thanksgiving Day two decades ago. “He was always on my mind. More so on holidays and his birthday, roller coaster of emotions,” Shearer, 36, said. “I thought about him all the time.”
After giving up Benjamin for adoption as a young teen, for three years Shearer received letters and photos of Benjamin from the Hullebergs. But after the updates stopped and the adoption agency closed in 2014, she grew curious about her boy.
After a detailed online search, she found Benjamin’s social media page. “He was 18 when I found him and I was very hesitant,” she recounted. “He had so much going on his life. … The last thing I wanted to do is to throw a wrench in his life. So I just watched from a distance.”
After two decades of wondering and searching, a Utah man has reunited with his birth mom after she sent him a Facebook message out of the blue last November. https://t.co/7cFHv7P5sq— ABC News (@ABC) May 31, 2022
Benjamin was oblivious of this as he tried to find his biological mother, Holly, for which he wrote letters, signed up with an adoption registry, and even took a DNA test.
Life takes unexpected turns. Benjamin's life took a turn too when he received a message from Shearer wishing him a happy birthday. “I can 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 recalled.
“I was in between our hourly quality checks and I got on my phone and I saw her message and I just replied. When she texted me back and she actually explained who she was, it hit me like a load of bricks. 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.”
Unable to wait longer, Benjamin asked his mom to meet with him. “I was not willing to wait any longer. I'd waited 20 years and that was long enough for me," said Benjamin. Shearer was surprised by his response. “He asked to meet, like right away, which I was like, shocked a little bit. I wasn't expecting that but he wanted to meet right away."
They’re all happy. Beginnings or endings. Don’t get it twisted— Uncle Charley (@ChuckD918) May 31, 2022
They finally met in November 2021 with both their families in an emotional reunion that lasted for nearly three hours.
Shearer and her family met with Angela and Brian Hulleberg first. “They looked the same basically as I remembered so it was nice. We just sat there talking until we sat down,” she said. “Then, about five minutes after we sat down, Benjamin arrived and 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.”
Benjamin described this as a surreal experience. “When I saw her, she stood up and she gave me a hug and I cried. I just looked at her and I was like, ‘You're real, like you're in front of me.’ And it was surreal.”
Benjamin continued, “I would definitely say it was a dream come true. I've said that about things in my life, like ‘Oh, I'm so glad I graduated. It's a dream come true.’ But this? This was the most true time I've ever said it.”
During the meeting, Benjamin and Shearer also realized that last two years they were not too far from each other, as they both worked at HCA Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City—Shearer as a medical assistant at The Heart Center at St. Mark's while Hulleberg volunteers at the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.
“Every morning, I would come in through the women's pavilion to come into work. So I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close,” Shearer said.
This is why Americans do not adopt Americans. They go to China and Russia. Just saying.— gvonder (@gvonder) May 31, 2022
He now tries to meet with Shearer, who he also calls "mom," at her office at least once a week. "Being able to sit down with my biological mom and just have coffee and talk before I go on my shift at the NICU? It's been amazing," he said.
Benjamin Hulleberg has an encouraging message for others looking for their biological parents.
“Don't give up hope. For me, I felt like I was at a point where I'd given up just a little. I had tried so many things, and they just hadn't worked,” he said. “It came when I was least expecting it. It was something that just happened out of the blue. That isn't what happens to everyone.”
Benjamin continued, "Meeting my biological family and meeting my half-siblings and meeting my biological mom, it was very healing for me. There was a little hole in me that I didn't know about and finding them really filled that in. I feel very whole, I feel very complete. I feel like I'm finally ready to continue in my life."
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Maskot