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Published Monday July 20th, 2009 at 1:04am

Original Article by Melissa Griffy Seeton

Separated at birth, the Gaddis siblings reunited Sunday. They are: Robert Gaddis, 75, of Nimishillen Township; Chuck Gaddis, 74, of Massillon; George Lingo Gaddis, 71, of Alliance; Judy Patrick, 67, of Canton; and Barbara Barnby, 64, of Canton.
Nimishillen Township, Ohio -- Black-and-white photos floated from one set of hands to the next as tears welled in the eyes of the beholder, focusing on memories long forgotten.

Or, in this case, memories shared for the first time.

Separated at birth, the Gaddis children never got a chance to grow up sharing the experiences most siblings hold dear: Learning how to ride a bicycle, blowing out the candles on a 16th birthday cake, graduating from high school, walking down the aisle and holding a new baby for the very first time.

But the bond that brothers and sisters share runs deeper than mutual experiences. It's in knowing that someone shares more than just your eye color. It might be in those personality quirks that drive your loved ones crazy, or send them running straight for you -- arms wide open.


Judy (Gaddis) Patrick of Canton always longed to know her siblings. She'd lived in a foster home for a short time with her younger sister, Barbara (Gaddis) Barnby, although she didn't know it at the time.

It's wasn't until Patrick was 30 that the sisters were reunited, along with two of their older brothers, Robert and Chuck Gaddis, who had grown up in the former Fairmount Children's Home in Alliance.

It was November of 1971 when the four met for the first time at the 50th wedding anniversary of Patrick's foster parents, Fred and Hilda Zernechel of Canton.

George Lingo Gaddis of Alliance hugs his sister, Barbara Barnby of Canton, who he met for the first time on Sunday. Separated at birth, the Gaddis children grew up in various foster homes or with adoptive parents.

Thirty-seven years would go by until the brothers and sisters were reunited again in one place. That day was Sunday. On the back lawn of Robert Gaddis' Nimishillen Township home, the brothers were reunited with their sisters, and another found sibling, one who Barnby had never met: George Lingo Gaddis.

Tears spilled over as they embraced for the first time, smiles spanning from ear to ear.

"You look like George," exclaimed George Gaddis' wife, Mary Ellen, of Alliance. "They (George Gaddis and sister Barnby) have the same nose."

It was like comparing a new baby to her siblings. But these were grown adults, in their 60s and 70s, with children and grandchildren of their own.


The siblings shared a long Sunday afternoon together. Reconnecting and making plans to stay in touch.

"It was time for everyone to get together," said Patrick, noting that some of the siblings are suffering from health problems ranging from cancer to diabetes.

And it's a wonder the group ever connected: Robert and Chuck Gaddis grew up in the children's home in Alliance, Patrick grew up in the foster home in Canton, Barnby grew up with adoptive parents in Canton, and George Gaddis grew up with his adoptive parents in Beloit.

"If it weren't for Judy (Patrick), well, she got the ball rolling," said Barnby of Canton, hugging her sister tightly.

When searching for her sister some 30 years ago, all that Patrick had to go by was her first name. Patrick tracked down her sister at a local drugstore, where she was working at the time. Patrick managed to get Barnby's phone number. But Barnby hung up on Patrick, who was then a stranger claiming to be her sister.

"I didn't give up. I just had this yearning to go connect with her, and to connect with my brothers," Patrick explained, then turned to Barnby with a playful nudge, "I still don't believe you hung up on me, sis."

To commemorate the day, Patrick shared with her long-lost siblings a poem that she wrote, titled "Together Again." It read, in part:

"We all grew up in our own special way with the help of our father above ... Inquisitive minds kept searching for ways to help us find one another. Soon the pieces were fitting this puzzle of life, the mysterious questions made clear. We found one another through sorrows and joy.

"A miracle we all would hold dear."