Following twenty long years of pondering and searching, a young Utah man has reunited with his long-lost birth mother after she sent him a Facebook message unexpectedly last November.
Benjamin Hulleberg, a substitute teacher, knew early on that he had been adopted by his now-parents, Brian and Angela Hulleberg, and often found himself curious about his birth mom, somebody who he only had the first name to go off of, Holly.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Holly Shearer always remembered and looked back at the child she had put up for adoption on Thanksgiving Day 20 years back.
“He was always on my mind. More so on holidays and his birthday, roller coaster of emotions,” Shearer, 36, told GMA. “I thought about him all the time.”
Shearer was but a young teen at that point and for quite some time, the Hullebergs had sent letters with photographs. After the updates stopped and their adoption office shut down in 2014, Shearer’s curiosity swelled.
She looked top to bottom on the web and eventually arrived on Benjamin’s social media page. “He was 18 when I found him and I was very hesitant,” she described. “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.”
However, this was all unbeknownst to Benjamin Hulleberg who had mentioned attempting to track down his biological mom with his folks for years. He composed letters, signed up with an adoption library, and even took a DNA test with expectations of finding Holly.
That’s when Shearer sent him a Facebook message wishing him a happy birthday half a year prior, Hulleberg’s reality was shaken topsy turvy.
“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,” Hulleberg said. “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.”
Hulleberg said that the critical message set off an emotional response.
“I was crying. It was all very positive emotions,” he said. “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.”
In the wake of sitting tight for such a long time, Hulleberg didn’t waste any time in requesting that Shearer meet with him, and on November 21, 2021, Shearer and Hulleberg at last, rejoined with their families.
Hulleberg said, “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. I would definitely say it was a dream come true,” he continued. “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.”
The get-together between the families lasted over three loving hours.
With that, Hulleberg has a reassuring message for others searching for their biological parents or family.
“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,” He added. “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.”