NORFOLK -- Paul Holland held his sister, Tracee Symes, tightly at Norfolk International Airport. It was the first hug between 55-year-old Holland and 53-year-old Symes who never had been together before Friday.
"It's been an empty hole in my heart for a long time," said Holland who lives in Elizabeth City. "Now, we can start healing each other a bit."
Both were born in Norfolk. Holland's and Symes' mother, Peggy Wilson, had several children. She gave Symes up for adoption shortly after Symes' birth. An older sister, Effie, also had been given up for adoption.
Before Wilson died in 1966 from Tuberculosis, she tried to get relatives to care for the children whom she still had. No one was able to take them into their homes. They were sent to orphanages or to foster homes.
"I tried to find 'em, I did all I could, and couldn't get any help," said Holland, referring to attempts he made 30 years ago.
Because Symes was adopted directly from the hospital, Holland never knew she existed until about 18 years ago.
Symes, who knew she'd been adopted and wanted to find out who she looked like. Her search, which began with a department of social services in Northern Virginia, led her to relatives who told her about her mother and told her that she wasn't an only child. They put her in touch with Holland.
Holland, Symes, and their sister, Effie, who got in touch with them for the first time in June, will visit with each other for several days. Holland and Symes told 13News Now they are hoping to find their other siblings.