Facebook photo helps sisters reunite with mom 40 years after their separation

Ksenia Novikova
Jun 15, 2018
04:48 A.M.
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Starla Medlock and Jeannie Toomey are two sisters that experienced an amazing family reunion story after 40 years. They spent most of their lives separated from their mother but were fortunate enough to reunite with her.


The long-expected reunion took place in Kansas City’s international airport, where the two sisters and their mother shared a heart-melting hug in front of the cameras as ABC News reported.

A photograph shared through Facebook was what finally made this reunion possible, after decades of unsuccessful attempts by both the mother and the sisters to contact each other.

The two American sisters were separated from their mother Lani Szarmach, from Thailand, when they were only 1 and 2 years old respectively. The sisters’ father took them away from their mother after a short-lived marriage.

The father, John Thompson, enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and traveled to the Asian country. During a trip to Thailand, Thompson met Szarmach and the two got married


After having two daughters, the couple divorced in England. Thompson obtained the full custody of the children and took them back to the U.S. with him. 

‘We asked our dad a lot about our mom, and he never spoke ill of our mom to us,’ 43-year-old Medlock told ABC News.

‘He just said that she couldn’t speak English because she’s full-blooded Thai, and he said she thought since we were American and he was in the military, he could take better care of us and provide us a better life than she could,’ she said.

Even after their father died, leaving them practically no information about their mother, the sisters never stopped trying to find a clue that could lead them to Szarmach. But after years of frustrating research, the sisters were ready to give up.


‘We thought, ‘”We can’t keep doing this anymore. We can’t keep doing this to ourselves. We have to accept that we’ll probably never meet her”,’ continued Medlock.

Then, when all hope seemed to be lost, one of the sisters received a private message in the social network that announced that the miracle they were waiting for so long finally happened.


Szarmach’s second husband, Marc, had managed to track the sisters via Facebook after he followed the lead of their father’s obituary. Marc was going through their Facebook photos when he found something that shocked him.

Marc recognized the photo in Toomey’s Facebook album as the same one he had seen his wife carrying in her wallet for the past 42 years. They soon came in contact and had their first video chat on New Year’s Eve.

A few days later the Szarmach flew to Kansas City to finally meet their long-lost daughters in person.

‘It felt like time stood still. It just stopped,’ said Medlock of the moment she laid eyes on her mom at the airport.

‘I felt like that piece in my heart was just filling up. It was no longer a void there,’ her younger sister added. Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa