Community

Whidbey Island family grows with reunions

Diane Brown of Freeland (second from left), with her adoptive mother Bonnie Davis, her brother David Bryant, his grandson Dillon Bryant and son David Bryant Jr. at a family celebration during the holidays. - Photos courtesy of Diane Brown
Diane Brown of Freeland (second from left), with her adoptive mother Bonnie Davis, her brother David Bryant, his grandson Dillon Bryant and son David Bryant Jr. at a family celebration during the holidays.
— image credit: Photos courtesy of Diane Brown

Diane Brown of Freeland continues to make contact with extended members of her biological family after being separated from her brother and sister since 1960.

Her brother, David Bryant of Three Rivers, Calif.; his son David Jr. and his grandson Dillon Bryant all came to Freeland for a visit over the holidays.

“It was the best Christmas I had in 49 years,” Brown said.

The meet-and-greet of long-lost relatives followed an October reunion of Brown and Bryant and their sister, Florence Bunnell of Hillsboro, Ore.

They had been brought together through the efforts of Bryant, who spent years of searching and countless attempts to have adoption records unsealed.

Since October, Brown also has made contact with her biological mother, Florence Johnston, of Portersville, Calif.

“I talk to her twice a week on the phone,” Brown said. “It’s like we’ve known each other forever.” She said she and her adoptive mother, Bonnie Davis of Freeland, plan to meet Johnston in the spring.

Brown said she also has yet to meet two half-sisters and a half-brother.

She said her story should be an inspiration for others in the community who have been separated from and unable to make contact with members of their biological families.

“A lot of people give up trying to deal with it,” she said. “People really want to know how my bother did this.”

Speaking of her brother, she said he plans to move to Whidbey Island soon. And his oldest daughter, Sandra, plans to get married at one of the island’s historic forts, she said.

“I’ve convinced him,” Brown said. “We’ve got to make up for 49 years of not knowing each other, and I’m not moving to California. We can’t live without each other now.”

“It was just a great gathering,” she said of the holiday visit. “This is a story that could go on and on.”

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