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My search is over - Family found

Sonia Honaker hugs a photo of her newly-found family.

by Tom Chillemi

She had waited a lifetime to find lost family. 

Growing up, Sonia Honaker of Hartfield felt there was something missing. “It seemed to be a big deal or secret, no one ever talked about it,” she said.

Sonia was born in Richmond in 1954. Before Sonia’s second birthday, her mother left her father. They eventually divorced. When her mother remarried, Sonia’s stepfather adopted her at age 3.5. 

She didn’t have a strong relationship with her stepfather, which perhaps led to thoughts of a family she did not know and her biological father. “I knew I was adopted because he (the biological father) was trying to get visitation,” she said.

Sonia always wondered what her real father had been like. What had she missed? “He called me one time when I was 8 years old and I also talked to my [half] sister on the phone,” she said.

It would be 56 years before the siblings would talk again.

Sonia’s actual father had a problem with alcohol. “He was a drinker, so they kept me away from him,” she said.

Sonia only saw her father once in 20 years. “It was really weird. It was not the relationship that I wanted.”

When her father died in 1982, she realized she would never have a relationship with him. 

But she still wondered about her three half-siblings. More than two decades later she searched for them on Facebook, with no luck.

“My brothers and sisters wanted to find me as much as I wanted to find them.”

“So many things happened in the last year. It’s like I wrote a letter and they answered my prayers. I’ve been wanting this for so long.”

“For Christmas, I wish everybody could feel as good as I do inside. I’m happy and complete.”
—Sonia Honaker

The odd thing, all the while buried in a closet at Sonia’s cottage in Piankatank Shores were family marriage, divorce, school, birth and death records. “I did not know they were there. I don’t know who brought them there,” she said.

Two years ago, she met a private investigator who put an intern on the case, at no cost, to look for Sonia’s siblings—two half-brothers and a half-sister.

About 4 months later, they were located in North Carolina.

She finally found her family. At age 63 Sonia was united with her two half -brothers and half-sister in August 2017. 

“When I met my brothers and sister they had already been contacted by the private investigator so they were very excited and welcomed me with open arms,” said Sonia.

As it turns out, her siblings had searched for Sonia without success. 

“The first thing I did was to embrace them and then I stepped back to look at them, to see if we had similar features,” said Sonia. “Even though one of my brothers was in the hospital, whom I would meet later, I felt complete and loved. My brothers and sister wanted to find me as much as I wanted to find them. So many things happened in the last year it’s like I wrote a letter and they answered my prayers. I’ve been wanting this for so long.”

She met her siblings Wanda, Ricky and Randy this past August in North Carolina, and they talk on the phone a lot. They plan to have another reunion in the spring

“I wish everyone could feel my joy inside,” said Sonia. “For the first time I will be able to write Christmas cards to all my family. My search is over. I’m happy and complete.”

Her quest has led to identify her grandparents, who were part Native American, and Sonia plans to research her heritage deeper.

Sonia’s relatives in North Carolina, who have only one young boy to dote on, will spend Christmas there. 

Sonia, a great-grandmother and matriarch of her own fortunate family, all of whom live in the Richmond area, will spend the holidays together. “They don’t get too far from Mama.”

They’ll spend holidays here at the river or in the Richmond area.

Sonia, who made a living as a bartender, raised three sons, Franklin 47, Sean (no age given) and B.W. 35. 

She has four grandchildren Tiffany, Drew, Riggins and Emmalee.

Sonia’s great-granddaughter Allison Delaney turned 4 in September.

“If you think you have any relatives look for them, because they might be looking for you and your life will never be complete until you know who all your family is. Don’t wait too long, things change in a heartbeat,” said Sonia.

Through life’s ups and downs, Sonia’s grandmother Louise filled the voids in Sonia’s world. “She taught me what love is.”

Her grandmother’s love nurtured Sonia’s spirit.

It gives credence to the saying, “God couldn’t be everywhere, so he created grandmothers.”

posted 12.21.2017

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