UTAH (ABC4) – A Utah man who was put up for adoption 20 years ago reunited with his birth mother in a surreal, heartfelt reunion.
Not only did the mother and son finally reunite, but in a twist of fate, discovered that they both worked at the same hospital in Salt Lake City.
The son, Benjamin Hulleberg, 20, shared his story with Good Morning America (GMA) and the roads that brought him back to his birth mother, Holly Shearer, 36.
Hulleberg tells GMA he always knew he was adopted and has been searching for his mother for years.
“It was always a very positive conversation,” Hulleberg tells GMA. “It was my parents either expressing gratitude for Holly or me talking about how I’m grateful for her and how I want to meet her one day.”
One day, Hulleberg’s entire life changed when his mother, Shearer, sent him a Facebook message wishing him a happy birthday. Unbeknownst to Hulleberg, Shearer had also been wondering about her son and managed to find him on Facebook.
“He was always on my mind. More so on holidays and his birthday, roller coaster of emotions,” says Shearer. “I thought about him all the time.”
Shearer was only 15-years-old when she placed Hulleberg up for adoption on Thanksgiving Day 20 years ago. For the first few years, Hulleberg’s adoptive parents kept Shearer in the loop, sending photos and updates of the baby boy.
But after the updates stopped, Shearer’s curiosity led her on a search. When she found her son on Facebook she was hesitant to reach out.
“He was 18 when I found him,” Shearer tells GMA. “He had so much going on his life. … The last thing I wanted to do is to throw a wrench in his life. So I just watched from a distance.”
Meanwhile, Hulleberg was on a mission to find his birth mother, even taking DNA tests and signing up at an adoption agency.
When Shearer sent that fateful message to her son introducing herself, Hulleberg recalls the moment hitting him “like a load of bricks.”
“I was crying. It was all very positive emotions,” Hulleberg tells GMA. “But to me, this is a day I had been waiting for the past 20 years of my life and to imagine that it was finally happening was outrageous. It was a lot to take in.”
Hulleberg wanted to meet his birth mother immediately after waiting so many years to find her.
“He asked to meet like right away, which I was like, shocked a little bit,” Shearer tells GMA. “I wasn’t expecting that but he wanted to meet right away. And so we planned a dinner the next day to meet at Red Robin with both of our families.”
The families finally met for the first time on Nov. 21, 2021.
Hulleberg recalls seeing his mother for the first time, telling GMA, “When I saw her, she stood up and she gave me a hug and I cried. I just looked at her and I was like, ‘You’re real, like you’re in front of me.’ And it was surreal. I would definitely say it was a dream come true.”
During the reunion, both mother and son discovered they had been working under the same roof without ever knowing.
Both work at HCA Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City — Shearer is a medical assistant at The Heart Center at St. Mark’s and Hulleberg volunteers at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
“Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work,” Shearer tells GMA. “So I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close.”
Through his birth mother, Hulleberg also met his younger half-brother and half-sister. The newly-reunited mother and son meet at least once a week nowadays
“Being able to sit down with my biological mom and just have coffee and talk before I go on my shift at the NICU? It’s been amazing,” says Hulleberg.
“It’s just exciting. I’m part of his life. Just knowing that his phone number is in my phone and I can call him or text him anytime … it’s amazing,” says Shearer. “My heart is full.”