After two decades of searching, a young Utah man and his biological mother were finally reunited, only to realize they worked in the same building.
20-year-old, Benjamin Hulleburg, had been invariably searching for someone who was frequently on his mind. A person who he had only known by first name, Holly.
As of early November 2021, Benjamin had only dreamed of meeting his biological mother.
Little did he know, she had longed to meet him as well, watching his online presence from afar, too nervous to reach out.
“He was 18 when I found him and I was very hesitant,” 36-year-old Holly Shearer told Good Morning America. “He had so much going on in his life… The last thing I wanted to do is to throw a wrench in his life. So, I just watched from a distance.”
Benjamin was always aware that he was adopted. From an early age, his parents, Brian and Angela Hulleburg, always expressed their gratitude for Benjamin’s biological mom, Holly.
His perpetual search was fuelled by signing up for adoption registries, writing up letters, and even taking a DNA test in hopes of finding her.
But that search was halted seven months ago, when Holly herself sent Benjamin a happy birthday message on his personal social media account.
And on that day, Benjamin Hulleburg’s world was turned upside down.
“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,” Benjamin recalled. “I was in between our hourly quality checks and I got on my phone and I saw her message and I just replied.”
Holly explained who she was, the woman who had never forgotten the boy she had set up for adoption 20 years ago, on Thanksgiving Day.
“…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.” Benjamin said, the emotions running through him.
The two didn’t hesitate to meet, and after 20 years of waiting, a dinner was arranged for both families to finally come face to face.
On November 21st, 2021, the Hulleberg and the Shearer families finally united.
“…about five minutes after we sat down, Benjamin arrived and he walked up and tapped me on the shoulder and joy just overflowed me, and we just sat hugging for about five minutes and crying and it just, I can’t believe that it happened.” Holly said.
“I would definitely say it was a dream come true,” Benjamin added. “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.”
Even more of a surprise to the families was that Holly and Benjamin were never too far apart to begin with. In fact, at times they could’ve been less than one floor apart.
Benjamin took up volunteering in the neonatal intensive care unit at HCA Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City – the same hospital where Holly has been working as a medical assistant.
“Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work. So I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close,” Holly said.
Benjamin now meets up with Holly, who he now calls “mom,” once a week for catch up visits.
“Being able to sit down with my biological mom and just have coffee and talk before I go on my shift at the NICU? It’s been amazing. 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,” Benjamin said.
“Meeting my biological family and meeting my half-siblings and meeting my biological mom, it was very healing for me…I feel very whole, I feel very complete. I feel like I’m finally ready to continue in my life.” Benjamin finished off, providing his encouragement for those in pursuit of their biological parents.
For Holly, she’s just happy to be a part of Benjamin’s life, whatever that entails.
“It’s just exciting. I’m part of his life. Just knowing that his phone number is in my phone and I can call him or text him anytime … it’s amazing,” Holly said. “My heart is full.”