From a married couple who was separated for 60 years because of the war, to a dog that spent five years away from his owner. Meet ten amazing stories about family reunions.
1The man who decided to look for his biological mother and discovered she was the bearded woman
Every adopted child wonders who his biological mother is. Movie star? Rock star? For Richard Lorenc, she turned out to be the last thing he ever imagined: a sideshow bearded lady.
The 33-year-old Kansas man had always been curious about his birth parents. His search began when he filed a request with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to find his biological parents. Six weeks later he received a letter from the department saying it had the identity of his mother: Vivian Wheeler, now 62. It also informed him that both his mother and his maternal grandmother had hypertrichosis, known as werewolf syndrome. Each had facial hair, even as children. The letter further stated that his mother was born a hermaphrodite, with both male and female reproductive organs. Wheeler's facial fuzz had appeared at birth with an inch and a half of light hair covering her cheeks and chin. She says her mother wanted a daughter, and doctors were instructed to remove the male parts. Wheeler claimed her father was humiliated by his bearded little girl, but it didn't prevent him from capitalizing on her condition. She began working in sideshows at an early age, earning money to send home to her family.
Wheeler stopped shaving her beard entirely in 1990 shortly after the death of her mother. Since then, her beard has grown to 11 inches in length, leading to appearances in Ripley's Believe It or Not! and in the Guinness World Records book. According to Wheeler, doctors examining her for Guinness said she has a male bone structure, with half her hormones being male. Doctors thought it would be impossible for her to give birth, but she became pregnant, and baby Richard was delivered by cesarean section in 1977. For Wheeler, a Seventh-Day Adventist, it was a miracle. But she says the father, a carnival ride operator she had met in Nebraska, took the baby away from her soon after the birth. A DNA test would prove that Lorenc is in fact the Richard William Chambers Jr. born in Nebraska in 1977 -- the same Richard William Chambers Jr. who was taken away by Richard Sr. shortly after Wheeler gave birth. Wheeler says she spent years searching for her son but never contacted the authorities about the disappearance. Her son was placed in foster care. At 7, he was adopted and became Richard Kevin Ryan. When he married, he took his wife's surname, Lorenc.
2The identical twins separated at birth that met each other after 40 years and discovered they had been living identical lives
The stories of identical twins' nearly identical lives are often astonishing, but perhaps none more so than those of these identical twins born in Ohio. Jim Lewis and Jim Springer first met February 9, 1979 after 39 years of being separated. They had grown to adulthood completely unaware of each other's existence. When Jim Lewis finally found his twin brother, Jim Springer, after years of searching through court records, he knew their unwed mother had put them up for adoption shortly after giving birth. When the two first met, Lewis described it as "like looking into a mirror." For starters, both had the same first name. They were physically identical. But when they got talking, the similarities were astounding. Both had childhood dogs named Toy. Both had been nail biters and fretful sleepers. Both had migraines. Both had married first wives names Linda, second wives named Betty. Lewis named his first son James Allen, Springer named his James Alan. For years, they both had taken holidays on the same Florida beach. They both drank Miller Lite, smoked Salem cigarettes, loved stock car racing, disliked baseball, left regular love notes to their wives, made doll furniture in their basements, and had added circular white benches around the trees in their backyards. Their IQs, habits, facial expressions, brain waves, heartbeats, and handwriting were nearly identical. The Jim twins lived apart but died on the same day, from the same illness.
3The grandmother and grandchild who found each other, fell in love and now are having a baby
72-year-old Pearl Carter and her grandchild Phil Bailey, 26, have paid a surrogate mother £20,000 to have Mr Bailey's child, which the couple plan to bring up together. Mrs. Carter, from Indiana, met Mr. Bailey four years ago after he tracked her down following the death of his mother, Lynette. Mrs. Carter fell pregnant with Lynette at 18, out of wedlock, and claims that she was forced to give her child up for adoption by her strict Catholic parents. She went on to marry, but never had any more children. The couple, who claim to be abused in public and could face prison for incest, say that they fell in love and became lovers soon after meeting.
Mrs. Carter said that she searched for her lost daughter for many years, finally giving up hope 15 years ago. After Mr. Bailey's mother died from cancer, he decided to find his grandmother, finally tracking down her address and writing to her. Mrs. Carter, who was then single, thought what a handsome and sexy man he was before pinching herself – he was her grandson. She wrote back immediately and included her phone number. Mr. Bailey, a carpenter, said that he too felt instant attraction towards his grandmother. After a night out during their first week of dating, Mrs. Carter decided that she would no longer hide her feelings from her grandson.
She said: “I called Phil into my bedroom, sat him on the bed, and then I leant over and kissed him. I expected rejection but instead he kissed me back.
In 2009, Mr. Bailey announced that he wanted a child. Mrs. Carter told him she was also desperate for a baby, but it was one wish that she could not fulfill as she had already gone through menopause. The couple then decided to use Mrs. Carter's retirement money to find a surrogate mother and buy a donor egg to inseminate with Mr. Bailey's sperm. They placed an advertisement asking for an open-minded surrogate, and Roxanne Campbell applied. The couple sees Miss Campbell, 30, once a month and accompany her for scans.
4The sons of a Nazi concentration camp survivor who discovered each other because they were both searching for their father's story
Peter Beschorner, said he was overjoyed at meeting the half-brother he did not know he had.
Mr Beschorner, 67, was searching for information about his Jewish father, Hans, a former inmate at the Dachau Nazi concentration camp, who later fled to Britain. He had no idea he had a brother, Klaus Mueller, 76, who was also doing the same. Both men contacted the International Tracing Service in Switzerland - and they quickly put two and two together and realised they shared the same father. The brothers were contacted by staff at the archives and eventualy met in Berlin.
The brothers' father Hans Beschorner, who was born in 1911, had a Polish father and Jewish mother and grew up in eastern Germany. At the age of 22, he had an affair with Alfreda Wensel, the 22-year-old daughter of a local mayor and she fell pregnant with Klaus Mueller.
The relationship was forbidden and Miss Wensel brought up Klaus as a single parent. Mr. Beschorner, a Jew, was later captured by the Germans and thrown into the concentration camp. He was released in 1939 when he became one of the 40,000 German Jews to be deported to Britain before the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1941 he married a British girl, Joan Soan, who gave birth to Peter later that year. None of the kids knew about the existence of the other.
5The long-lost brothers who discovered they were neighbors
After years of trying to find each other, two long-lost Newfoundland brothers have discovered they live just metres apart in Corner Brook. Tommy Larkin, 30, and his brother, Stephen Goosney, 29, were adopted as children by separate families. Larkin grew up in a happy family in Cook's Harbour, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. Goosney grew up a few hundred kilometres south, in Woody Point. Both Larkin and Goosney spent years searching for their biological family but had no luck, until they received help from Newfoundland and Labrador's Post Adoption Services agency. Little did they know, they have spent the past seven months living almost directly across the street from each other on Wheeler's Road in Corner Brook. For more than two years, they have lived on the same street (Larkin moved to a different residence seven months ago). Since meeting, the brothers said they have been spending a lot of time together. They say each visit reveals just how much they have in common.
The unusual thing was, despite living across the road from each, they couldn't really ever remember seeing or speaking to each other. However, there was an encounter just days before where Larkin was looking at Goosney's snowmobile in the dump of his truck at a city daycare. The brothers say they had an instant connection, facilitated by the fact they have so much in common. They were both adopted into families who informed them at a young age they were adopted, and both have an adopted younger sister.
6The couple who got back together after finding in a fireplace a love letter written a decade ago
A couple got married after they were reunited when a long-lost love letter sent ten years ago was found unopened behind a fireplace. Steve Smith and Carmen Ruiz-Perez, both 42, walked down the aisle on Friday following a separation of 16 years.The pair fell in love and got engaged in their 20s after Carmen moved to England as a foreign student. But after a year-long relationship the couple drifted apart when she had to move back to France. A few years later Steve wrote to her in a bid to rekindle their romance - but Carmen's mother put it on the mantlepiece and it slipped down the back of the fireplace.It remained there unopened for the next decade until the fireplace was removed for renovations.
Carmen - who had remained single and never forgot the love of her life - was given the letter in which Steve had written: 'I hope you are well. I was just writing to ask if you ever married and if you ever still thought of me? It would be great to hear from you, please great in touch if you can. Steve XXX.'
Carmen said she was initially too nervous to call as so much time had passed but plucked up the courage and the pair arranged to meet. They met up in Paris a few days later and have now wed - 17 years after they first fell in love.
7The kidnapped kid who was found by his mom after 27 years with help from Facebook
A woman whose three-year-old son was abducted and taken to live in Hungary has been reunited with him 27 years later after finding his name on Facebook. Avril Grube last saw Gavin when his father took him on an outing to Blackpool Zoo in 1982. Instead of going to the zoo, however, Joseph Paros took the boy to Budapest in defiance of a court order. Despite appeals via the Hungarian Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Budapest, and an appeal to Margaret Thatcher, then the Prime Minister, Mrs. Grube heard nothing more of her son.
Over 25 years later, her sister, Beryl Wilson, typed the name Gavin Paros into Google and found a link to someone of that name on the social networking site Facebook. A frustrating wait followed. With more than 200 million users, there was a possibility that the Facebook member merely shared the name with Mrs. Grube's son. It was several weeks before Mr. Paros, now a 30-year-old father of three, checked his Facebook page and found the message from his aunt. Mother and son were reunited after her husband Jeff picked him up from Gatwick and drove him to their home in Poole, Dorset. The pair managed to communicate, although Mr. Paros has forgotten all the English he knew as a boy and Mrs. Grube does not speak Hungarian. Mrs. Grube, who has three other children, has yet to meet her daughter-in-law, Sylvia, and three grandchildren Anastasia, 10, Thomas, 7, and Angelina, 6. She hopes they will decide to move to Britain.
8The man who found his lost dog after 5 years (this means 35 years in dog's age) thanks to a microchip
When his beloved Jack Russell terrier went missing during a visit to Ireland, Michael Neary was devastated. And after a year, he decided there was a hole in his life that only another dog could fill. The plant fitter from Morpeth, Northumberland, bought one of his pet's brothers from a subsequent litter by the same parents - giving him the same name of Jack. Five years later, however, he was stunned to receive a call saying that Jack Mark One was alive and well at an animal shelter in Cambridgeshire. Now aged nine, he had been found in Ireland and sent to England in a consignment of dogs for re-homing. Staff at the Wood Green Animal Shelter near Huntingdon found he was microchipped with Mr. Neary's telephone number and address. 'For five years I've been telling people that microchips on dogs are a waste of money. Now I'm eating a big slice of humble pie.'
A spokesman for the animal shelter said: "Jack's story has amazed us all. We've had a few cases where it took several months for an owner to be reunited with their dog, but never anything like five years."
9The married couple who accidentally ran into each other after 60 years apart
Sixty years ago, Boris and Anna Kozlov were married for only three days before he had to ship out with his Red Army unit. When he returned, Anna and her family were gone – exiled to Siberia by Stalin's purges. Then one day, on a chance encounter, they found each other again!
“I thought my eyes were playing games on me,” Anna said. “I saw this familiar looking man approaching me, his eyes gazing at me. My heart jumped. I knew it was him. I was crying with joy.” 80 years-old Boris had returned to visit his parents' grave. As he stepped out of the car, he looked up to see Anna standing by her old house, where they had lived for the few days after the wedding. “I ran up to her and said: ‘My darling, I've been waiting for you for so long. My wife, my life…'”
10The great-grandmother abandoned by parents who met brother she never knew she had after 78 years apart
A great-grandmother abandoned by her parents as a baby 78 years ago has met a brother she never knew she had. Recently, Irene Adkins, 79, opened her front door to be confronted with Terry Spriggs, 73, who had managed to track her down. It was in 1932 that William and Kate Spriggs abandoned Irene and their three other children in a caravan by the side of a road. Irene was just ten months old at the time, and she and her siblings were all taken into care and rehomed by Barnados. She was placed with a foster family, and grew up completely unaware that she had any brothers and sisters. As a teenager she moved to Oxfordshire where she married Gordon Adkins, a toolmaker, who recently died at the age of 83. After she was abandoned, Irene's natural parents went on to have three more children, including Terry, who they brought up themselves in Northamptonshire.Terry was told when he was 14 that he had a sister called Irene, but he was never able to track her down.
After a fruitless search spanning decades, his niece Sylvia Waters, 59, finally managed to track Irene down after doing a family tree. She managed to trace Irene through searching the Barnados archive, and passed on the details to Terry. Irene said that she was stunned when the brother she never knew she had turned up out of the blue. Terry and Irene found out they both holidayed in the same places, and may even have crossed paths without realizing. Irene is a mother of six, grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of 13. Terry is a father of five, grandfather of 12 and great-grandfather of one.