Couple Forced Apart As Teens Reunite After 53 Years And Locate Daughter Given Up For Adoption
Feb 28, 2021 by apost team
For some, young love can be a fleeting thing, but for others, the people we first fall in love with can be the one true love of our lives. That was the case for one Minnesota couple, however, their road to happily-ever-after wasn't a straight one. In fact, it was a long and winding journey that included being apart for 53 years!
Denny and Karen Vinar were high school sweethearts in the early '60s, but an incident would change the course of their lives forever. In 1961, at the age of 15, Karen found out she was pregnant. After being sent to a home for unwed mothers, Karen gave birth but the couple ended up putting their daughter up for adoption. They only saw each other a handful of times before other life circumstances kept them apart for over five decades. But their love never went away.
Then in 2014, Denny, who knew he still had feelings for Karen, tracked her down. And it turned out she still had feelings for him too. The couple were finally reunited and have been together ever since. But their story didn't feel complete, so they knew they had to track down their daughter whom they'd given up for adoption over half a century ago. After finding her, the family was finally all together again and a part of them all finally felt complete. Theirs is a beautiful story of love that never quit and it's incredibly heartwarming to see them all reunited. Read on to find out more about their journey.
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High school sweethearts are often the first true experience of romantic love many of us have. And for some people, it's common to move on and find other partners as we grow older. But for some, those first loves are meant to be the true loves of our lives. That was the case for Denny and Karen Vinar. Teenagers when they first met and began dating, theirs was a textbook romance in the beginning. Speaking with CBS Minnesota, Denny explained:
“After football games or basketball games [I'd] run down and shower and she’d be waiting up there all for me."
But their classic scenario of high school love would be shattered when Karen learned that she was pregnant. Consequently, her family sent her to a home for unwed mothers, and sadly Denny was only able to visit her a few times. One of those visits was the day that Karen gave birth to their daughter, and the couple was able to hold her for one hour together. But immediately, she was taken away and put up for adoption. Karen told CBS:
“That was the last we saw of her. We had a photograph taken of her and that was the last of our memories of her."
But that goodbye wasn't the only one the couple would have. After going away to the military, Denny came back and proposed to Karen, who accepted his proposal. However, as her family wanted her to get an education, the couple couldn't be together. Despite being torn apart while they were in love, neither stopped thinking about one another.
Speaking about his feelings for Karen after they'd been separated, Denny told CBS:
“No, I never stopped thinking about her. She has, I say, a corner of my heart. No, she was always there."
Decades passed and the couple went on to live completely different lives in other parts of the country. But Denny still couldn't get Karen off of his mind. So in 2014 — 53 years after they'd separated — Denny decided to find Karen. He tracked her down via the internet and left a message for her where she worked in Everett, Washington. Karen was surprised but clearly thrilled that he'd gotten in touch, as she told CBS:
“I called back immediately and said — how did you find me?”
They spoke like no time had passed before Denny made the trip out to visit Karen. The meeting went incredibly well, with Denny saying:
“It was just magic. She got out of the car and she ran around and she jumped on me and said babe, you’re home."
Karen was equally as enamored with their reunion, stating:
“It did feel like nothing changed. Including his dimples. When he smiled and his sparkling eyes."
In fact, their reunion was such a success that the couple didn't waste time at all and ended up getting married a mere 36 hours later! After all, when you know, you know. They decided to settle down in the Twin Cities and with life going great, they began to make up for the lost time that they'd missed in each other's lives.
In 2018, the couple made an appearance on Steve Harvey's TV show "Steve" and spoke further about their story. They went into more details about giving up their daughter for adoption, with Karen explaining that it was her parents who suggested the couple should give the baby up.
Denny goes on to reveal that it was after he'd joined the professional networking app LinkedIn, as a result of a friend's invitation, that he decided to search for Karen's name. Lo and behold, she was right there as the third person listed on his search result. That's when Denny reached out and their lives were changed forever.
But it turns out that wasn't the first time Denny had tried to find Karen. Years earlier, while working for a local senator, Denny was tasked with delivering brochures to an area of town. He'd seen that Karen lived in the area he was delivering to and went on to tell the audience about how he hoped to run into her then. While fighting back tears he said:
"I knocked on every door and passed off the literature, hoping that Karen would come to the door. And well, she never did, she wasn't there."
It's heartbreaking to think that Denny had wanted to find Karen even earlier, but it clearly wasn't their time then. Now that we know they did eventually find each other, it's a much happier ending to their story. But although they were thrilled to have each other in their lives once again, something else was missing.
Karen and Denny were over the moon having found each other after all these years, but their union didn't feel complete. Although they had found each other again, they were still thinking about their daughter, who they'd had to give up for adoption. So they decided to try and find her. Karen explained to CBS:
“One day [Denny] said, Karen it took me this long to find you. My life would be complete if we could find our daughter."
So Karen and Denny teamed up with Lutheran Social Services, and soon enough they were finally able to locate Jean through the adoption agency. The agency sent Jean a letter, but, after dismissing it at first she threw it away, not realizing what it was truly about. Thankfully for everyone involved though, Jean's husband read it and looked into the situation further. Jean described how he told her about what was happening:
“When I came home from work one day he told me, I think you better sit down. In the whole 30 years of my marriage he never told me I think you should sit down."
That was when she learned her biological parents were trying to track her down, for the first time in nearly fifty years. The two parties exchanged more letters before finally meeting up in person in May 2016. Jean spoke of the emotional moment:
“I don’t think there are many feelings that would compare to not ever having seen your parents and then they just walk in the door. It’s a very emotional, moving experience."
When the family did eventually meet up, Jean described an incredible feeling that she had for the first time in her life. Upon seeing her father for the first time, she instantly recognized her face in his:
“When he walked through the door and I looked at him I was like, oh my gosh. Because I’ve never, ever looked like anybody before. Never. Ever.”
Since the family has reunited, Karen, Denny and Jean have begun to make up for lost time by being a part of each other's lives once more. Jean has even met her half-siblings — Karen and Denny's kids from their previous marriages — while the couple has become close with Jean's family too. Now that they've found each other again, the family is making the most of the time they have together after missing copious birthdays, holidays and other lost time. The trio has even worked together on writing a book titled "How Did You Find Me?"
Clearly in love and excited to spend the rest of their lives together, Denny spoke about how strong his and Karen's love is:
“The love we have for each other is second to none. Today, even today, it’s unbelievable. We still dance in the kitchen and we always will.”
Theirs is a story with a fairytale ending, both romantically and with their entire family including Jean. After waiting 53 years to find the true loves of their lives again, we can only imagine how thankful and hopeful for the future Denny and Karen are.
What an incredible story of true love! What do you think about Denny and Karen's story? If this made your day, pass it on to those you know to show them that true love always has a fighting chance.