This is an inspiring long-lost family reunion story that might not have ever happened without the help of social networks and free people search engines.
A family search that lasted over four decades has reunited two sisters with their long-lost mother. Jeannie Toomey and Starla Medlock have finally been reunited with their mother after 45 years apart thanks to Facebook and some free online people searches.
The two sisters were reunited with their mom, Lani Szarmach, in Kansas City, MO this week. The two girls were separated from their mother when their parents got divorced in 1972, and their father was granted full custody of them. The girls were only 1 and 2 years old when they were separated from their mother.
Jeannie and Starla’s father, John Thompson, joined the U.S. Air Force when he was 18 years old. He met their mother, Lani, when he traveled to Thailand, while he was stationed in Vietnam. The couple got married shortly after they met in Thailand. Jeannie and Starla were born during the first few years of the marriage. Shortly after Jeannie was born, the couple got divorced while the family was living in England.
Their father got full custody of the two girls and moved them back to the United States to live, and their mother moved back to Thailand. That’s the last time the girls saw their mother.
Jeannie and Starla’s father died six years ago. Although, they had been searching for their mother for many years, their father’s death gave their search for their mother a whole new urgency and meaning in their lives. While he was alive, their father had given them information to help with their search to find Lani, but now they were on their own.
After years of searching public records and people search databases and getting nowhere, the girls gave up trying to locate their mother.
Little did they know that their mother had gotten remarried to another American man and was living in Pueblo, CO. What’s more, their mother was trying to find Jeannie and Starla.
On December 30th, Lani told her husband, Mark Szarmach, that she had to find her daughters again someday. She gave him their names as well as the name of their father, John Thompson, and asked Mark to search for them online. Mark was able to find John Thompson’s obituary through an online search. From John’s obituary, Mark was able to get more information on the location of Jeannie and Starla.
Mark eventually found Jeannie and Starla through a Facebook search. He recognized the girl’s baby picture that was posted on Jeannie’s Facebook page. It was the same baby picture that Lani carried with her in her wallet. That’s when he knew he had found Lani’s daughters.
Mark sent Starla a message through Facebook with her and Jeannie’s baby picture attached to it. Starla and Mark then exchanged phone numbers on Facebook, and the rest is family history.
Jeannie and Starla talked with Lani and Mark for the first time on New Year’s Eve. Mark and Lani then took a flight to Kansas City, MO to reunite with the girls in person on January 3rd, 2017.
Mark’s search for Jeannie and Starla took just three hours of his time and cost no money whatsoever. This story is a testament to how powerful free internet searches and social media sites can be when trying to find a person online. Sometimes all it takes is the time and effort to start the search and follow the clues until you find the person that you are looking for.