After More Than 40 Years, Siblings Reunite Online
Woman's Striking Resemblance to Man's Mother Prompted Connection
By MAUREEN WHITE
May 26, 2009
Classmates.com advertises that it can help users "find high school friends, plan reunions," but for one Mobile, Ala. pastor, the Web site led to an incredible family reunion 40 years in the making with a sister he never knew.
48-year-old pastor Joseph Lett first harnessed the power of social networking to attract young people to his ministry through Myspace or track down old Navy buddies through Classmates.com.
But everything changed for Joseph when one day, he decided to do a simple search for a sister named Patricia who his mother, Lilly Bell Lett, had told him about when he was just 10 years old. He grew up with four other siblings, but knew that one was missing.
"All she was was just a name," Joseph told "Good Morning America." "No one knew what happened to her, where she was."
Meanwhile, Patricia was 2,000 miles away in Sacramento, Calif. raising her own family with six grown children, but always wondering about the life that was taken from her. Given up at birth, Patricia never knew her biological family. Her first foster mother died and another kicked her out of the house.
"I remember looking up in the sky when I was 10 and I was out in the front yard and I said to the Father, 'Could I just have a family that loves me? Could you just give me people that love me? Just take me to a home where people love me,'" she said.
Then, less than a month ago, Patricia updated her online profiles on Match.com and Myspace by adding more pictures and writing about her past in foster care.
That's when Joseph decided to do a search on Classmates.com for his long-lost sister on a whim.
"I went online and I typed in Patricia Lett under the search and her picture showed up," he said. "The picture spoke a thousand words."
Joseph immediately recognized the spitting image of his mother in Patricia's face.
He immediately sent an e-mail to the Classmates.com account, but Patricia did not respond. So then he tried to track her down on Myspace and was eventually successful.
An E-Mail Reunites Starts a Family
The e-mail he sent then was short and to the point, but it was the start of the remaking of a family.
"My name is Joseph Lett," the e-mail began. "I am the pastor at Courts of Praise Christian Center in Mobile, Alabama. I really believe we need to talk. You share some striking resemblance to family members. Please call. Thanks."
When Patricia called she told said that on her birth certificate, her mother's name was Lilly Bell Lett.
"He said 'say no more. You're our sister,'" Patricia remembered.
"She started screaming and hollering and shouting and she said Hallelujah," Joseph said.
Not long after, Patricia talked to the rest of her siblings for the first time on a conference call, which prompted daily calls for weeks until a cross-country reunion was planned.
At the emotional airport reunion Patricia screamed and thanked God as she embraced her new brother and sisters for the first time.
"This is her. This is my sister. Thank you Jesus," Joseph said before the pair walked out of the airport holding hands.
"I always said if I had a family I would just laugh and make them laugh and I would just hug on them and love them so much," Patricia said. "This is the best day I have ever experienced in my life."
(*Click on the title of this post to be directed to the ABC article and video)