Neighbor Stunned When She Discovers Her Neighbor Is Actually Her Long-Lost Sister


50-year-old Dawn Johnson and 31-year-old Hillary Harris seemingly had nothing in common after sharing the same driveway for almost a year.

After moving in June 2017 from Greenwood, Wisconsin, to a fixer-upper house on the west side of Eau Claire with her partner Kurt Casperson, Johnson knew she made the right choice to move.

“We found this house, it was a fixer upper,” Johnson said. “This house was postponed three times for closing. Somehow the house, I just, I wanted the house. I didn’t want to give up.”

Even though it took them a while to settle on the small cottage-style house next door to Harris, Johnson was drawn to stay there from the beginning, especially for Harris’ little girl Stella.

“A little girl from next door would constantly come over,” Johnson said. “I have two boys, so a little girl was like heaven because I’ve never had little girls and all she wanted to do was ‘Ready, Set, Go!'”

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Harris admitted to being worried her daughter was bothering Johnson for constant attention.

“I was annoyed by it to be honest. I’m like, ‘Stella, just stop. What if they don’t even like little kids?'” Harris said. “But Stella was just so drawn to her.”

Harris, who was adopted when she was a month-and-a-half old and grew up in Elmwood, had been searching for her birth family since 2012, when she was pregnant with Stella. She continued her search because of the “pit in (her) stomach” that told her to keep searching.

Harris utilized and even asked her adoption agency, Catholic Charities, for information about her open adoption. The agency gave her packets filled with information. It included a letter from her mother that explained her choice of adoption and an obituary from 2010 of her father, Wayne Clouse. In addition, it included the names of two half-brothers and two half-sisters. Harris did discover her two half-brothers through Facebook in 2015, but she could not find her two sisters.

Knowing that her half-sister named Dawn was from Greenwood, Harris’ neighbor raised her suspicions. However, without knowing her neighbor’s last name, Harris couldn’t be sure and didn’t want to ask.

“I never wanted to pry and ask her last name,” Harris said, even though she often would covertly observe her neighbor’s features with the hopes of finding resemblances.

However, her neighbors’ delivery of shingles in their yard one day was a blessing in disguise. Written across the delivery were the letters spelled out: “J-O-H-N-S-O-N.”

“I said, ‘Oh my God!’ and then I called Lance right away,” Harris said. “I told him, ‘Her name is Johnson. It’s Dawn Johnson. She’s from Greenwood. It’s got to be her.'”

One day, after it started pouring rain while the couple was working on the roof, the neighbors all stood in Johnson’s garage to avoid the rain.

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“The day after my shingles were delivered we started working on the roof and then it started pouring,” Johnson said. “So all four of us, well actually all five of us, were in the garage and Hillary just kept looking at me, trying to figure out features, like she was standing close and I’m like, ‘I do not know what’s going on!'”

It took a few days, but Harris finally worked up the courage to confront Johnson. Eventually, Harris called her.

“Anyway I called her and was like ‘Do you remember how I told you I was adopted,'” Harris said. “[Dawn] goes, ‘Yes.’ And then she said …”

“Me and you have the same dad, don’t we,” Johnson replied.

“We talked for a while, a long while that night. Sent messages back and forth and she showed up with flowers the next day on my door step,” Harris said.

“That literally consumed our whole summer then. It’s been consuming us for a long time, but we’re finally getting used to it. But when we tell people it’s still a shocker, you know?”

The two sisters view their meeting as a miracle, since Johnson’s house was almost closed three different times.

Even their partners view this as something unexpected but wonderful.

Johnson’s partner Kurt described the situation as “incredible,” and Harris’ husband Lance described it similarly as “crazy.”

And still, the sisters are in awe of their own heartwarming story. Johnson posted their story on Facebook with a touching caption:

Johnson also enjoys spending time with her new-found niece, Stella, who is now 5 years old. She has spent the night at her new aunt’s house several times and video chats with Johnson from their driveway. She also has a sweet nickname for her aunt — “Dawn-ald Duck.” The sisters looked in wonder at the jaw-dropping resemblance between baby photos of Stella and of Johnson.

For Harris, this discovery has settled a lot of her feelings and urges to find her sisters. Johnson even showed her photos of her birth father, revealing their mutual love of tabasco sauce, and she introduced her to their other long-lost half-sister last fall.

“It definitely filled a void in my life,” Harris said.

While Johnson was completely unaware of the existence of another sister, she too has reaped the blessings. Both sisters spend holidays and time together in hopes of making up for their years of unknown sisterhood.

Both sisters continue to enjoy making memories and having fun. What a sweet blessing, and all because of one shared driveway!

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Erin Shortall is an editorial intern for The Western Journal. She is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree at Grove City College. She has a passion for homeless ministry in her home city of Philadelphia, PA.
Erin Shortall is an editorial intern for The Western Journal. She is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree at Grove City College. She has a major in English, minors in both Writing and Communication Studies, and a Technical Writing concentration. She is currently working on designing and writing a book of poetry to financially support a new homeless ministry of Grove City, PA called Beloved Mercy Ministry. In her spare time, she loves to sing, play piano, exercise, traverse cities, and find the cutest coffee shops. She also has a passion for homeless ministry in her home city of Philadelphia, PA.
Philadelphia, PA
Scholarship of Academic Achievement and Moral Character
Grove City College
Grove City, PA
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
Visual Design, Document Design, Technical Communication, Literature, Computer Ethics