After two decades apart, a Utah man reunited with his birth mother after she sent him a Facebook message on his birthday last November.
Benjamin Hulleberg is a middle school substitute teacher who knew from a young age that he was adopted by his parents, Brian and Angela Hulleberg. He grew up wanting to meet his biological mom, whom he only knew as “Holly.”
Benjamin Hulleberg in an interview with KSL News
“It was always a very positive conversation,” Benjamin, 20, told Good Morning America. “It was my parents either expressing gratitude for Holly or me talking about how I’m grateful for her and how I want to meet her one day.”
Holly Shearer, 36, always thought about the baby boy she had placed for adoption on Thanksgiving Day two decades ago.
She was only 15 when she gave birth to Benjamin. For three years, the boy’s adoptive parents, whom she only knew by their first names and the first letter of their last names, sent her letters and photos.
A young Holly Shearer carrying newborn baby Benjamin in her arms
However, the updates eventually stopped, and their adoption agency closed in 2014. That’s when Holly started to wonder more about her son.
She searched online and found Benjamin’s social media page. He was 18 when Holly found him, but she hesitated to initiate contact.
“He had so much going on his life. … The last thing I wanted to do is to throw a wrench in his life. So I just watched from a distance,” she said.
Benjamin, who had talked about trying to find Holly with his parents for years, had no idea she had already found him. He did everything—he wrote letters, signed up with an adoption registry, and took a DNA test in hopes of finding his birth mother.
Holly Shearer giving baby Benjamin to Angela and Brian Hulleberg
Two years after she found him online, Holly finally gathered the courage to message Benjamin on his 20th birthday.
It was a day Benjamin would never forget.
“I can remember the exact place that I was at when I got the message. I was at work. I was a machine operator and I remember I was in machine No. 15,” he recalled. “I was in between our hourly quality checks and I got on my phone and I saw her message and I just replied.”
Holly Shearer’s message to Benjamin
When Holly texted him back and revealed who she was, Benjamin said the words hit him “like a load of bricks.”
“I was crying. It was all very positive emotions. But to me, this is a day I had been waiting for the past 20 years of my life and to imagine that it was finally happening was outrageous. It was a lot to take in,” he said.
Benjamin asked to meet Holly right away, and they had dinner the next day on November 21, 2021, with both of their families.
The mother and son shared a long embrace and cried upon meeting each other.
Holly Shearer and Benjamin Hulleberg
“I would definitely say it was a dream come true,” Benjamin said. “I’ve said that about things in my life, like ‘Oh, I’m so glad I graduated. It’s a dream come true.’ But this? This was the most true time I’ve ever said it.”
The two families spent over three hours catching up. And during the conversation, Holly and Benjamin found out that they had both been working at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for the last two years.
Holly works in the hospital as a medical assistant at The Heart Center, while Benjamin volunteers at the NICU.
“Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work. So I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close,” Holly said.
Benjamin Hulleberg and Holly Shearer together with their families
Benjamin, who calls Holly “mom,” has since connected with his younger half-brother and half-sister. He also tries to meet with Holly at least once a week at her office.
“Meeting my biological family and meeting my half-siblings and meeting my biological mom, it was very healing for me,” Benjamin said.
“There was a little hole in me that I didn’t know about and finding them really filled that in. I feel very whole, I feel very complete. I feel like I’m finally ready to continue in my life.”
We’re so glad to see this mother and son reunited. Even after 20 years apart, their love has always been there.