(WBIR-Alcoa) Six brothers and sisters, separated at birth, have found each other 50 plus years later.
In October, someone who volunteers online as something called a "search angel" connected the siblings.
Illinois unsealed birth certificates for adoptees in 2010. Mike Schmidt, born in Chicago, Ill., got a hold of his records and emailed them to a search angel network. Unlike the other siblings, his mother's unique maiden name appeared on the certificate.
Barbara Conner, a search angel in Florida, found Mike's five siblings in about two weeks.
The eldest, Tim Arthur, was born in Chicago, Ill. in 1956 to Clara and Earl Willis. A year later, Clara gave birth to Martha "Mardi" Skiersch in Chicago. Robert "Bob" Norman would then be born in San Diego, Calif. in 1959; Melissa Christian was also born in San Diego, Calif. in 1960. By 1961, Clara and Earl Willis moved back to Chicago, where they had Mike.
The youngest, Earl Willis Jr., is the only one of the six the Willis' kept. He was born in Aransas Pass, Texas in 1967.
"I knew locations where they were born and years but I didn't have any information as far as names," Earl Jr. said.
Earl Jr. said his father died when he was 5 years old, and his mother had a rough life. He grew up as an only child.
"I'm looking at my brothers and sisters. It's not half, it's not adoptive-- these are my brothers and sisters," Earl Jr. said.
After months of talking on the phone and texting, they decided to meet for the first time in Pigeon Forge. Mike and Bob flew in to McGhee Tyson Airport.
"To me, it's still not complete. We gotta get these other two here and the planes can't fly fast enough," Earl Jr. said.
Mike arrived at the airport on Friday afternoon saying, "It's filled an empty hole inside me that I've had all my life. So that I know. And I can't wait to see them."
By the time Mike arrived, five out of six had met.
A flight delay kept Bob in Denver until later in the night.
While waiting for Bob, Melissa recalled being born blind in her left eye; vision in her right eye is now fading.
"Now I have time to see this family before the possibility that I won't be able to see at all. So it's really been a true blessing and I think it's a gift from God," Melissa said.
Bob arrived at McGhee Tyson Airport late Friday night and met his five siblings for the first time.
"Overwhelming. We gotta be the minority in all this," Bob said.
Tim went on to say, "Complete, really complete. I'm the oldest. I knew there were some of them out there but now we're complete."
Before knowing he had five biological siblings, Tim said he had nobody to call.
"I had two brothers that I grew up with and those two were blood brothers. It was those two and then were was me. I just never fit in. But now I fit in," Tim said.
Mardi added, "We now have the luxury of actually being children and being able to start over."
During their stay at Pigeon Forge, Earl Jr. brought old documents belonging to their parents. They sent new information to their search angel, Barbara Conner.
Less than a week after meeting, Conner found four half-siblings from Clara's previous marriage to Joseph Kovats. Earl also had three children with another woman.
The siblings also believe, via Earl Jr., that Clara and Earl had one child who died at three weeks old from spina bifida.
They are in the process of connecting with the four half-siblings Conner recently found.