This amazing family reunion story shows the powerful potential of using commercial DNA services and people search sites to find and reunite with long-lost family members, including family that you never knew you had. Three half-siblings, who were abandoned at birth three decades ago, have found each other and have been reunited after 30 years. What’s even more amazing about this successful reunion is that the three people were abandoned separately at birth and grew up not knowing that each other existed until recently.
Janet Barnicoat, 35; Julie Hutchison, 31; and Dean Hundorf, 29, are half-siblings who had the same birth mother. All three were abandoned in various parts of California withing a few days after their births. Janet Barnicoat was abandoned in 1981; Julie Hutchison was abandoned four years later in 1985 and their brother, Dean Hundorf, was abandoned a year later in 1986.
In 1981, Janet Barnicoat was found in an alley in Lawndale, California; Julie Hutchison was found four years later in a market, just a few miles away from where her sister Janet had been found. Their brother, Dean Hundorf, was found on a stranger’s front porch a year after Julie was found.
At the time, it was not known why their birth mother abandoned them or who she was. All three of the children had abandonment issues growing up and wondered if they had any brothers or sisters out there in the world.
The three half-siblings were adopted and raised by separate families and did not know about each other until 2013, when they started to find each other through online DNA testing services and people searches.
Janet Banicoat did a people search on Facebook to locate the woman who had found her in 1981. However, the woman had no information on who her birth mother was. On a whim, Janet sent a DNA sample to the AncestryDNA testing service. She was amazed to discover that she had a half-brother registered on AncestryDNA, who lived in Wisconsin. Janet first met her half-brother, Dean Hundorf, in 2014.
Janet and Dean eventually received help with their search from a woman named CeCe Moore. Moore is a genetic genealogist, who specializes in helping people, who were abandoned as children, find their biological family members.
Moore cross-searched Janet and Dean’s DNA records with other commercial DNA testing sites like 23andMe. This led them to their other half-sister, Julie Hutchison. Although Julie was adopted and raised in California, she was currently living on the other side of the country in Baltimore, Maryland.
Julie Hutchison was amazed to find out that she had two half-siblings who were searching for her. Like her siblings, Julie also wanted to find out who her biological mother and father were.
ABC’s network television show 20/20 finally reunited the three siblings together in California on May 6th and even found out the identity of their birth mother. Upon seeing these three people together, it was obvious that they shared numerous physical as well as personality traits.
When the 20/20 episode aired on May 6th, it was revealed that their birth mother is a woman by the name of Joann Hauser.
Hauser told 20/20 that she was only 22 years old, recently divorced and already had two young sons when she gave birth to Janet Barnicoat in 1981. Hauser said that Janet, Julie and Dean were abandoned because at that time in her life she was a single mother and was terrified at the thought of raising more children on her own. She said that she had hoped that other people would be able to give her children a better life than she could have.
Hauser also said that abandoning her three children has been a heavy burden on her throughout her life, but she is relieved now that she no longer has to hide from the truth of what happened decades ago.
Now, thanks to a lengthy people search, some commercial DNA databases and ABC’s 20/20, this long-lost family mystery has been solved.