Chance meeting on Facebook leads to sisters' 40 year reunion - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Chance meeting on Facebook leads to sisters' 40 year reunion

Charmaine Hauanio-Kuewa Charmaine Hauanio-Kuewa
Pamela Paulo Pamela Paulo

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the summer of 1968, single mother Mary Ann Hauanio gave birth to a baby girl in Hilo. Hauanio already had a one year old daughter and, knowing she'd be unable to care for two babies, she gave her newborn up - in a closed adoption.

For more than 42 years, Hilo resident Pamela Paulo had no idea who her birth family was - until a chance meeting three months ago on the social networking site, Facebook.

Cut to last Saturday: at a café in Hilo, it was a moment four decades in the making - exchanging lei, hugs, and lots of tears."I'm trying not to cry!" says Pam. Pam and her 43 year old sister were meeting for the first time, and the story of these two long-lost sisters may be nothing short of a miracle.

This past February, Pam - who always knew she was adopted - was on her friend's Facebook page. She saw a picture of a woman from Waipahu named Charmaine Hauanio-Kuewa, who bore a striking resemblance to her. She friended Charmaine and asked, "Do you have a sister?"

Pam says, "She wrote right back and said, ‘Yes, I do have a sister that was put up for adoption and … could it be?'"

The two decided to take action. They were told a DNA test might not be conclusive, so they filed paperwork to open the adoption records. For three months, they waited and waited - and decided to meet in Hilo, anyway, this past weekend. Three days before this meeting, the official word came: they are, indeed, sisters.

"I just cried and I was shaking," says Pam. "And I thought it's going to make this trip so special, extra special because now we know."

Charmaine was immediately taken by the resemblance between Pam and their mother. "My mom shared with me, when I was very young, that she had given up a baby for adoption and I would say it was the one thing that broke her heart the most. Even when she passed away, I think it was the one heartache that she wasn't able to heal," says Charmaine.

Their reunion story spread so quickly that even Big Island mayor, Billy Kenoi, stopped by to wish them well. The two now have 40-plus years of catching up to do and families to get to know. Pam says her adoptive parents are wonderful. She has two grown children from a previous marriage and an 18 month old son with her current partner. Charmaine and her husband have a one year old baby girl.

Pam says, "I told her, you know sister, even though we didn't have a chance to grow up together, now our children are blessed with this opportunity to grow up together as cousins, and I truly feel that our mom is up there and she probably helped bring us together."

"She's so much like my mother - or our mother - I should say. I know that mom would be very proud to call her daughter," explains Charmaine, with happy tears.

The two honored their mother, Mary Ann – who was the 1990 Merrie Monarch queen - by visiting her gravesite at Alae cemetery … with a promise to always be in each other's lives.

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