Linda Coffman of Nebraska City hosted her sisters Trudie and Jodine for a special Christmas party earlier this month that brought an official end to a decades long search.
Jodine, who was adopted out of the family as a baby, had never gotten the chance to know her biological family and was getting to see her sisters in person for the first time.
She had just recently traveled to meet her biological brother Jim, who lives in Reno, Nev., and had also been to Denver, Colo., to meet her biological father.
For the three sisters, the Nebraska City meet up was something that began to take shape after they connected on the phone back in June.
It had been a most unlikely connection since a search on opposite coasts of the country seemed to have ended.
Trudie, who was 10 years old when Jodine was born, had known that her mother was pregnant and had always wanted to find her sibling. She had been told that her mom, Betty, had a boy, and so she was out looking for a brother. She had used Ancestry.com and had found some promising leads but then the trail went cold. Trudie, who makes her home in Florida, had continued to look and hope right up until her mom got sick and passed away, about two years ago, and, at that point, decided to quit.
“I was very upset that I had to quit looking,” Trudie said. “I had never gotten anything at all. That’s why I thought, 'I am never going to find this child.'”
Jodine, who makes her home in California, had also been searching. She began looking for her biological family around the age of 20 and searched for 40 years. She had gone to the hospital of her birth but had found no records. She went to the lawyer who handled the adoption but was told the records had been thrown out six months prior.
Jodine’s last attempt at finding her biological family had been Ancestry.com. She had found connections with third and fourth cousins, but that wasn’t getting her anywhere. She needed to connect with a first or second cousin.
“Those are the ones it’s easier to find your background with,” Jodine said.
In October of last year, Jodine decided her search would never be successful.
“I was resigned,” she said.
The search had been something that had consumed and driven Jodine. She had a good adoptive family. She had happiness in her life, but she needed to fit in and she needed answers for her questions.
“As I got older, I felt like the proverbial square peg trying to fit into the round hole,” she remembers.

Other people could say that they had their mom’s eyes or their dad’s laugh. She didn’t have those connections.
As her adoptive family got involved in Ancestry.com, they found other relatives by connecting the dots between points that were known. Jodine didn’t have that. And, as a result, she was saddened and felt lonely. She had searched. And it was over. Not quite.
In June of this year, Jodine went back to Ancestry.com to get a DNA test kit for her adoptive brother. When she logged back into the web site, she found a letter—one left by a first cousin.
The cousin had asked Jodine if she was interested in knowing more. Of course she was. And that connection eventually led to the cousin asking relatives, finding Linda and giving her Jodine’s phone number.
Jodine, who works as a counselor at a hospital, heard her phone ring and looked at the ID, which read, Nebraska City. She picked up the line and found out it was Linda, her biological sister. Shock followed. The two became emotional. Jodine said they talked as long as they could, about 15 minutes, before she had to get back to work. When she got home, the two were back on the phone for a much longer visit.
Linda then called Trudie and told her that their sister had found them.
More emotions.
And then more talks. They shared pictures and tried to plan a get together. Trudie heard that Jodine might be coming to Florida for a vacation, but then found out that travel plans wouldn’t allow for the sisters to get together.
Linda began to work on the Nebraska City meet up. She got Trudie to Nebraska. And got Jodine on board as well.
Trudie arrived in Nebraska City on Nov. 7, a Tuesday, and Jodine was to arrive on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
Linda and Jodine had decided to keep Trudie in the dark about Jodine’s trip to Nebraska City.
It was a hard secret to keep.
Linda said they planned to have a Christmas celebration while the sisters were in town. And, prior to Jodine’s arrival, Linda was busting at the seams to tell her secret.
“If it would have been one more day, she would have known,” Linda said.
She did drop hints by saying that she had a big Christmas present for Trudie. But the secret remained under wraps.
On Wednesday, Linda’s oldest son picked up Jodine at the airport in Omaha and brought her to Linda’s front door in Nebraska City.
Jodine knocked and stood beside the door. Inside the house, Linda told Jodine to get the door and then got into position to capture a photo of the moment.
Linda’s son, outside, got his camera ready to shoot the moment from that perspective.
Trudie went to the door, opened it, and then froze.
“It was such a shock to see her in front of me,” Trudie said.
Once emotions began to calm, at least a little bit, the sisters were able to visit and enjoy each other’s company for the first time. It seemed strange to say that, although they really didn’t know each other, grew up apart and had different experiences in the company of different people in different settings, the sisters felt connected.
Even on that first phone call, Jodine said she and Linda exchanged, “I love you,” before hanging up.
The bonds started strong and continue to get stronger. Jodine says she feels like she fits now. She has her mother’s eyes and her father’s smile.
She has common interests with Linda and Trudie as all three are into collecting jewelry. Trudie and Jodine are both crafters and were into drama and art in school.
And besides sharing traits in common, now they have common experiences.
The three sisters were getting ready to go out on a trip to Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City and were doing their make up at the same time. Jodine said it may seem like a small thing, but that memory is one that she already cherishes.
“All of a sudden, I am doing sister things,” said Jodine. “We are doing sister things that we would have done if we would have grown up together.”
The Christmas celebration was definitely a highlight of the short visit which ended with Trudie and Jodine going back to their homes by week’s end. The sisters said they knew the goodbye was going to be tough, but they won’t lose touch now and they’re coming up with plans to get together again.
This was just the start of the journey for the sisters. There is so much more to know. There are so many stories to share.
Jodine said she came from a small adoptive family but has found that her new biological family is much larger.
“I went from a cottage to a clan,” Jodine said.
It can get overwhelming. Jodine said there are so many people to meet. And, with her being introduced to all those people, that can make her feel a little out place.
She’s up for the challenge because the pay off has been outstanding. She even had a moment where one of her California friends picked Jodine’s mom out of an old photo. The friend looked at the photo and knew immediately which person in the picture would be Jodine’s mom because her sense of fashion matched Jodine’s.
It was also nice to have a good ending to the story. Outside of missing the chance to meet her mom, Jodine said she has no sorrows.
There is no dark side of this story.
And Jodine said she wanted to make sure that message gets across. When people are adopted, Jodine said the temptation might be to think that their parent(s) put them up for adoption because the child was unwanted.
Jodine said she knows that wasn’t true with her mom. She’s got that confirmation by talking to her sisters.
Betty loved kids and was heartbroken to have to give up Jodine.
“Who can say what goes through a person’s mind when they have to give up a child,” said Jodine, adding that her mother had her best interest and her other children’s best interests in mind. “It was totally out of love. She was already supporting three children.”
That past, the adoption, can be forgotten now. The gap that separated Linda, Trudie and Jodine is now closed and they can write the story of life together now.
They’re excited to write the next chapter.