5 Siblings Get Separated after Their Mom Abandons Them — They Reunite Nearly 40 Years Later

Dayna Remus
Dec 02, 2021
12:30 P.M.
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A family torn to shreds believed they would live apart from one another until their deathbed. That was until one party, and a simple conversation revolutionized their entire worlds.


It was the early 1960's when a young boy going by the name Dave Carlson ran to say goodbye to his little sister Cheryl. He didn't get there in time.

She was being adopted from the Annie Wittenmyer Home, where Carlson and his four younger siblings stayed, including her, until her new parents took her in.

Siblings Dave Carlson, Cheryl, Tom, Jim, and Mary Jo as children. │Source: twitter.com/wcnc



As the oldest of the five, Carlson remained at the orphanage until, one by one, he ensured that every one of his four younger siblings was adopted before he found a new home.

This was a mission he had taken upon himself after promising his grandmother that he would look after his four younger brothers and sisters: Cheryl, Tom, Jim, and Mary Jo.

Carlson was eventually taken in by Byron Carlson, a plumber, and Corine Carlson, a nurse. Officially far away from the orphanage and in a new home, the young boy was probably never going to be able to see his siblings again. 


A sad boy putting his forehead on his knees with his arms crossed. │Source: Shutterstock


These kids ended up at the Annie Wittenmyer Home after their single mother dropped Carlson and two siblings off an aunt, taking the other two with her.


After she didn't return when she said she would, the children's grandmother told Carlson to go back to his mom's apartment in Grinnell, Iowa, to get some clothing, where he found a tragic scene.



Jim, about 2 years old at the time, and Mary Jo had been abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Recollecting this event, a 64-year-old Carlson expressed: 

"It was hot as hell, and the whole place stunk to high heaven. They hadn't eaten."

The issue was taken to court, where heartbreakingly, the mother refused to take her children back, leaving them in the orphanage's care. 

Lonely boy staring out of a window. │Source: Shutterstock



Dave Carlson grew up and moved to Goodland, California, became an all-state football player, and fought in Vietnam.

He did return to the orphanage at one point to see if he could find anything on his lost siblings but to no avail. However, in 1990, this all changed at a party in Jasper County that the second eldest, Jim, now Jim Bush attended. 

Young adults enjoying themselves together. │Source: Shutterstock



Jim began speaking to someone about his adoption and life story, mentioning his older brother, to which someone exclaimed that he knew Carlson. The two immediately got in contact with one another. Speaking about their meeting, he said

"I'd always driven a Dodge truck...And there he was, driving one the same color of mine. I smoked Marlboros. He smoked Marlboros. We both love horses."

The brothers looked for their other siblings to no avail, but time wasn't up yet. Their sibling, Tom Crew's wife, Cindy Crew, took an interest in finding out more about her husband's origins.


Two men hugging. │Source: Shutterstock


She eventually connected him to Carlson through a Public Library in Grinnell, which is the area where he and their siblings were picked up from the apartment. 


After another beautiful reunion, the trio got hold of an individual specializing in missing person investigations, Jim McDonald, asking him to help find their long-lost sisters.

A detective standing in the shadows. │Source: Shutterstock



Using a lead from a social worker's letter written about the five siblings' case, he could locate Cheryl and Mary Jo.

Both women flew up to reunite with their brothers on separate occasions - the fabulous five back together and hopefully never to be split up again. 

A group of people hugging in a field. │Source: Shutterstock



Being separated from one's brother and sisters can sometimes be excruciating, as Tessa Ferguson can attest. In the early 1970s, she and her four other siblings have torn apart. This followed a fire in their childhood house that killed their parents.

She was finally adopted and chose, after many years, to let go of finding her siblings; Dena, Frank, Rebecca (Becky), Tessa, and Rae Lynn. However, one day her father-in-law called her and told her that a woman named  Dena was looking for her.

This is how she reunited with not only Dena but the rest of her siblings. Unlike many of us, Carlson and his brothers and siblings and Tessa and hers understand the importance of sibling bonds.


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