Raleigh, N.C. — Seven adult siblings, adopted as children, were reunited Saturday at a family reunion decades in the making.
Some of the seven found out they had siblings when they were children, but others did not learn about their brothers and sisters until they were married with children of their own.
"Family means togetherness, loyalty, sacrifice," said James Cotton, 49, of Charlotte.
The eight Brown brothers and sisters were separated shortly after birth and were adopted by families across the country. Dorothy Wilkerson, 56, Valerie Stewart, 54, Debra Elam, 51, James Cotton, 49, Jason Miller, 48, and Julie Conner, 46, reunited in Raleigh for the first time in more than four decades. One sibling was still in route when our cameras arrived at the event and the eighth sibling has passed away.
Julie Conner, 46, of Raleigh, is the baby of the family.
"We were all born in Hackensack, New Jersey," she said.
Conner was a teenager when she found out she was adopted.
"You always go to the doctor's and they ask what's your medical history and you're like, 'I don't know. I was adopted,'" she said.
Through Internet searches several years later, Conner learned she had brothers and sisters.
"When I got a picture of (my sister), I almost fell out. It looked like me with a wig on," said Miller.
After more than 40 years apart, the word family takes on a whole new meaning.
"You always feel that loss. You feel like the black sheep of the family. You always feel that emptiness," Conner said. "I've found that hole and I'm glad we're filling that hole today."