I never wanted to ruin any one’s life.
It was just such an eerie feeling.
I’m just too scared.
She said, I know who my biological parents are.
I can feel my body sinking now just talking about it,
I was just like, ‘whoo’.
You and me have the same Dad, don’t we?
Oh my gosh.
She’s like, yeah.
That’s definitely her.
Yeah, I’m your sister.
How on earth could my sister move next door to me?
My name is Hillary Harris. I was adopted when I was an infant.
My parents were very loving and very nice.
I grew up in Elmwood, Wisconsin.
I came to Eau Claire in 2005 for college.
I met my husband in 2008.
We bought this house, here in Eau Clair, in October of 2011.
Then I found out I was pregnant.
That’s when I went through the adoption agency and found out
all my information about where I came from, birth mom, birth dad,
I found out then that I had other siblings, but I could not find the half sister.
Her name was Don Johnson.
When we looked at the house, honestly we didn’t even realise that it had a shared driveway.
The house that we shared the driveway with
it was actually a rental house. Like every year there was new neighbours.
And we had actually contemplated moving.
So in 2017, the new neighbour moves in.
And I don’t know I didn’t even introduce myself.
I remember that. I’ll was just like ‘uh, whatever.’
My name is Dawn Johnson.
I was raised in Wisconsin in a small town.
My parents were not married.
I did not know who my biological father was until I was 18.
When we moved to Eau Clair we did look at probably 20+ houses.
The house that I finally found was on Craigslist.
I actually pulled up and the first thing I noticed was a shared driveway.
First thing that came to me is who’s going to take care of the snow.
After I moved into the house, I did come to find a little girl was coming next door.
Her name is Stella.
I did not like when Stella kept going over there.
So I mean, I would definitely like watch through the window
if she’d like walk over there.
My husband came over and was like ‘I met the new neighbours.’
I was like, ‘oh cool. What’s her name?’
What are the chances it’s not possible.
I was at home one day and a big truck pulled in our driveway
with huge stacks of shingles on it.
And there was a big red banner, like wrapped around the shingles.
And it said:
I’m like, ‘oh my God.’
I was stressing myself out about it.
And my husband was getting stressed out.
He’s like, ‘if you don’t ask her, I’m gonna ask her.’
Stella’s mom and father came over.
And I remember like looking at her hands.
Oh, she’s really big hands, too. And she has curly hair.
And I have naturally wavy hair.
I had a set of eyes on me that I could feel
going up and down my body.
I was still too nervous at that point.
I’m thinking ‘huh!’
And then they decided, ‘well, we’re not going to get back to the roof
so we’re going to leave.’
We sit by and walked inside and my husband’s like,
‘Dude, what the heck? You didn’t ask her?’
Well I’m like ‘I couldn’t couldn’t! I’m just too scared!’
I never wanted to ruin anyone’s life, you know,
or like be a surprise where they didn’t want anything to do with me.
And now there’s this woman moving next door to me…
I can make her really sad or I ruined some family secret.
So I pull up my father’s obituary and see that it says Dawn Johnson
The phone lights up and it says:
‘Hi, this is you know, Hillary your next-door neighbour.’
‘Is your last name Johnson?’
Were you Miss Little Corn Fest Queen?
I said ‘yes, I was Miss Little Corn Fest in 1983.
And she goes ‘well, who’s your dad?’
I said Wayne Close but unfortunately he passed away in 2010.
And it was like silent for a couple minutes.
Oh my gosh, it’s her. It’s Dawn Johnson.
I said ‘you and me have the same Dad, don’t we?
And she’s like, ‘yeah, I’m your sister.’
I’m like, ‘oh my gosh!’
I was just in shock.
Holy crap now what? Now what’s our dynamic going to be like?
And the next day I ended up bringing pictures of her biological father
because she has never met him and brought her flowers
and a card and said, ‘you know, welcome sis, I’m glad to meet you.’
We talked a lot. We spent a lot of time together.
We’re very fortunate that we’ve had a very good have a really good connection together.
I feel like Dawn’s over here a lot.
I mean, not like not like that, but I’ll ask her for like, honestly,
I’ve probably asked her for at least 10 rolls of toilet paper.
A lot of life changes.
A lot of firsts for both of us.
I’m expecting another little girl in a couple months.
I kind of felt like Dawn’s there now as a neighbour
and a sister and a grandma.
We see each other every day.
We see each other every day.
She comes home from work and I’ll go out there and talk to her.
People really don’t know each other and anymore,
they just are too busy with each other’s lives
and they never really do get to know your neighbours.
So be kind to your neighbour because you never know
it could be your sister you’ve been looking for.