ETX Woman meets biological family after 51 years

ETX Woman meets biological family after 51 years
Debbie Sallee (second from left) met her biological family on Saturday. (Source: KLTV)

VAN, Texas (KLTV) - Thanks to an online DNA test, an East Texas woman found her biological family after 51 years.

Saturday morning, in Van, she was waiting to meet them.

“I’m beyond excited, everybody that’s here to support me is my family," said Sallee. “Then to get to see them; I’m pointing because I know they’re down that hall.”

Just down the hall at the Fairfield Inn, her family was ready to meet her.

“I’m about to pop, I think I’m going to explode. My heart is just so full right now, I can’t talk because I’ll start crying," said Mary Stark, Debbie’s mom. “I can’t wait to meet her, so let’s get on with it!”

A moment 51 years in the making was filled with tears, hugs, laughter, and smiles.

Debbie could now hold the people she’d spent 51 years wondering about.

“Y’all, this is my family!" said Sallee.

Those there to support Debbie were lined up to meet her new family and an assembly line of hugs began.

Then came a simple, but thoughtful, surprise for Debbie and her daughter, Cheyenne.

“We missed a few birthdays, so we got a whole bunch of birthday presents for you and for you," said Scotti Stark, Debbie’s biological brother. “Sorry we missed them all.”

50 small gifts for Debbie and 20 for her daughter, who was happy to gain some grandparents.

For the past 50 years, Debbie and Mary both had worries about their missing family.

“I think me, personally, I didn’t want to mess up what they had, and that’s what an adopted person worries about, probably 90 percent; what if they don’t want me, what if they have their life and I totally screw it up by coming into it,” said Sallee. “That’s a huge fear. That’s probably what I thought about my entire life.”

“That’s what I’ve always thought as well,” said Mary. “She hasn’t looked for me. I wanted to. I tried several times. I even wrote to Oprah.”

Once they were connected, there was nothing negative.

“Never even entered our minds,” said Stan Stark, Debbie’s biological dad. “We were just anxious to make it happen.”

It was as if 50 years hadn’t been spent apart.

“It feels like a family reunion," said Stan.

“Yah that’s a good way to put it,” added Sallee.

They’re now hoping they can inspire others to find their family.

“I think it’s real important for people to look into it, to see what you can find out,” said Stan. “It’s pretty amazing.”

“Just do it," said Mary. "You have nothing to lose and everything to gain; everything.”

“Don’t give up,” said Sallee. “I’m very blessed this all happened in this amount of time, but I think when God is ready for his plan, it’s going to happen.”

“Amen to that,” said Mary smiling at her daughter.

Debbie and her parents — who live in Katy — plan to stay in touch and visit each other often.

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