AUGUSTA, GA– “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t visualize coming down them steps… ‘Audrey you go with that family, Joey you go with that family- we don’t love y’all no more’… and I was screaming, ‘i want my brother!’ ”
Heartbreaking memories of being put up for adoption at age 7, and being pulled apart from her little brother on the courthouse steps.
Thousands of you shared our story on Facebook. In just 2 days Audrey found Joey, and a day later he drove to Augusta to meet the sister he had missed for decades… even though he didn’t remember her name.
Joey- “It’s been a long time.”
Audrey- “I have missed you. God answers prayers, honey!”
Joey- Yes he does, he does. That’s why we’ve gotta praise Him. He’s the Master.
Joey- I’m gonna show you this/and they shut the door on me, told me there was’t any paperwork/ You don’t know how much I missed you.”
A painful past.
Joey- “It was a long, long time ago and it really still hurts today.”
Audrey- “I don’t hurt no more.”
Audrey- “Now, who is this?”
They didn’t get to make memories… but they’ve shared a dream and now they’ll share a family.
Joey- “You know I would have been dressed up but I got uff work and drove up here.”
And one final special surprise:
Jennie- “And he’s the man who put the Welch link together, His name is Stacey Coleman.”
Audrey- “Thank you, thank you!”
Stacey- “You’re so welcome, you’re so welcome.”
Audrey- “Nobody understand the emptiness.”
Joey- “No they don’t. We know where each others at now, so we’re gonna be like we used to be, like we were in the picture.”
Audrey- “Holding hands.”
Joey- “That’s right, that’s right. The last time I heard you, you were going away screaming.”
Audrey- “And then I went this way and he went that way.”
Joey- “Hollering I want my brother, I want my brother!”
Joey- “Now she’s got him. Big brother’s here.”
Audrey- “Ahh no, I’m the big sister!”
WJBF’s Jennie Montgomery tells Audrey and Joey “God’s hand was in all of this.”
Audrey and Joey found each other exactly one week ago.
Stacey Coleman searched a public index for the Joey’s name and date of birth, written in my story on wjbf.com. He says it took a little skill– and a whole lot of luck! You can read about his process of elimination on our website.
Coleman immediately recognized the name provided was probably no longer the name being used. (True- Joey’s middle and last names are entirely different than the name on his birth certificate.) He says the key piece of data was the date of birth. He again searched the public index using a loose criteria but with a firm date of birth.
“It resulted in 188 possibilities in the United States.”
He narrowed his pool to only people with ties the southeast, then further to those with origins in Georgia and South Carolina.
“This resulted in only 6 possibilities. From that I used the same tactics used by identity thieves (social engineering) to find him. I searched Facebook, Google etc. A person adopted that many years ago probably didn’t go very far.”
Stacey says as with any investigation, it takes a little skill and a lot of luck.
LUCK that brought closure to Audrey and Joey.
And by the way, Audrey Crook appreciates compassion shown by the community. She says her family has given many thanks to the people who made this happy reunion possible, but now asks for privacy as she and Joey “spend time making memories that they’ve never had the chance to do.”