CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Back in July, 10 On Your Side spoke with a Chesapeake family who was frustrated by their search for their long-lost half sister. Last month, they met in person for the first time.
It was a reunion decades in the making.
10 On Your Side was there moments after Sue Mande met her siblings, sharing a lot of hugs and a lot of tears. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to find any of them,” she said.
It was a joyous moment, but it was also bittersweet.
This story goes back to Kathleen Marie Kuchman who gave a baby up for adoption when she was 17. Kathleen had always wanted to meet her baby girl, but hit roadblock after roadblock with the adoption agency.
She passed away in 2015 and her dream of meeting her daughter never came true.
Turns out, Sue was also looking for her mother. “That’s the saddest part, not getting to know her,” she said.
However, Kathleen’s other children, Sean, Mary and Susan, never stopped looking. Back in the spring, they found someone on Ancestry who looked a lot like their mother.
They realized Sue Mande was the sister they had been looking for.
A few weeks ago, they met in-person for the first time.
“When I looked at her I was like ‘oh geeze.’ It’s like my mom,” said Sean Kuchman. “That was the biggest thing — just walking in the room and it was like ‘Mary, Sue, Kyra, Mom.”
The siblings quickly noticed their similarities and sense of family.
Sue said, “I feel completely whole now, like there’s nothing missing.”
Not only did they find each other, they completed their mom’s mission.
Sean said, “Mom didn’t have many regrets, but this was one big question mark that she had and I think us meeting Sue and her actually coming here and being with our families, that fulfills everything mom wanted.”
They have advice for other families searching for siblings:
“Keep looking, keep going forward, keep fighting for your rights,” Sue said. “Find out if the state that you want has paperwork that needs to be filled out.”
Because even if it feels like you’re hitting wall after wall, the end result could be something like this: a family filled with love, which only continues to grow.
Sean said, “Love always grows and there’s always room for more and that’s the best part about having this huge family that we have.”
If you’re looking for information on requesting adoption information — you have to contact the Virginia Department of Social Services.