AURORA, Colo. -- For a brother and sister who share the same birth mother, Facebook has helped them find each other after years spent apart.
“My mom got in some trouble, left me and Birdie in a hotel room, and got arrested by police,” said Richie Baumgardner describing how he and his half-sister Birdie Evans were separated.
“We went through Social Services, where I was adopted. My name changed from Johnson, and Birdie’s dad, Bobby Evans, got custody of her,” Baumgardner said.
The kids grew up in separate homes in Denver, but in may ways unknown to each at the time, they remained together.
Both attended, at different times, George Washington High School in Denver.
Both eventually got married and both have three children.
But perhaps the most unexpected connection was their jobs. By a twist in fate, both also ended up working together side-by-side at Joe’s Crab Shack in Aurora.
“We both tried to find each other but had little success,” said Evans. "I didn't have any memories obviously because I was 1."
Evans said she spent the years looking for her brother. All she had was a first name, Richard, and their mother's last name, Johnson.
"Imagine how many Richard Johnson's pop up on Google," Evans said. "No birthday or nothing. So it was real hard to find him."
Then, two years ago, Evans convinced her father Bobby Evans to make a Facebook profile. Baumgardner found Bobby Evans' profile and recognized the photo.
"I found his picture and said, 'Okay, we'll that's definitely him,'" Baumgardner said. "I look at his daughter and it was somebody I worked with at the restaurant."
Both Evans and Baumgardner had taken a leave of absence from Joe's, but through Facebook, both go in contact with each other.
"Honestly, if I hadn't known her, I probably wouldn't have contacted her or maybe I would have waited. I don't know. I would have been more nervous about it," Baumgardner said. "But since it was a familiar face, I said, 'Okay, I have to call her and tell her now.'"
Both acknowledge the irony of how they met.
"Now I look at her and I see the resemblance and I think, 'Oh, it was right there the whole time. Right under my nose,'" Baumgardner said.
Never very close at the restaurant where they worked for a year, the siblings have spent the past two years getting to know each other better. They've also discovered their quest to find all their blood siblings is not over.
Just last week, Evans was able to find their birth mother, Diana Chastain, who passed away in Louisiana in 2005. Chastain had two other sons, Orlando and Jason.
Evans said she was able to find Jason on Facebook recently and has messaged him. Jason lives in Washington, she said. So far there has been no reply.
Finding Orlando will be more difficult. "I know he's older than me and younger than Rich. That's all I know," Evans said.
Evans and Baumgardner say they are eager to connect with the two missing siblings. "We want you in our lives," Evans said. "There is no reason why a system or privacy rights or whatever should keep us apart."
Evans said she believes one day the four will be united.
"Never underestimate the power of a computer and faith," she said.
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