elderly couple sitting on a bench

Couple marries after 50 years apart and tracks down daughter they gave up as teens

Love will find a way, no matter how much time passes. That is definitely true for Denny and Karen Vinar. They fell in love as teenagers and had a baby who they gave up for adoption. After that, the couple was forced to part until they found each other again, 50 years later. But their reunion was incomplete until they found their daughter.


Couple Reunited After 50 Years

In 1961, Karen and Denny attended high school together. He was a popular school athlete and she played the clarinet with the school band. “I only lived two blocks from the school, so he would walk me home after school practically every day,” said Karen.


“After football games or basketball games you’d run down and shower and she’d be waiting up there all for me,” said Denny. [1]


However, their relationship became complicated after Karen realized she was pregnant at fifteen. Denny proposed but Karen’s parents forbid the marriage. Her family brought her to a home for unwed mothers where Denny could only visit her a couple of times. The day their daughter was born, the new parents got to hold her for an hour before the adoption. “That was the last we saw of her. We had a photograph taken of her and that was the last of our memories of her,” said Karen.

Karen and Denny as young adults

When Denny returned from military service, he proposed to Karen for the second time who said yes. However, her family didn’t approve; they wanted her to further her education. So that was the last time they saw each other for a long time. Denny tried to keep in touch but Karen’s father intercepted his calls and letters. “I went through hell to be with her,” said Denny. “And I couldn’t.”


So the couple moved on, marrying other people and starting a family. But Denny never forgot Karen. “No, I never stopped thinking about her. She has, I say, a corner of my heart. No, she was always there,” said Denny.


“I just thought he had forgotten all about me because I didn’t hear from him,” said Karen.


Read: The Heartwarming, Seven-Decade Love Story of Preble and Isabell Staver


“Like nothing changed…”

After 53 years of no contact, Denny did a search on LinkedIn for Karen in 2014. “I typed in ‘Karen Lehmann’ and there she was—the third person down. And I smacked my hands together and said, ‘That’s my lady!’” He successfully left her a message at her workplace in Washinton. “I called back immediately and said – how did you find me?” said Karen.


The couple talked as if no time has passed and after three months of catching up over the phone, Denny took a flight to meet her. At that point, he was long divorced and Karen was widowed. “It was just magic. She got out of the car and she ran around and she jumped on me and said babe, you’re home,” he said.


“It did feel like nothing changed. Including his dimples. When he smiled and his sparkling eyes,” said Karen.

Less than two days later, they were married. His third proposal was the final one. But their happily ever after was yet to come.

One day he said, Karen, it took me this long to find you. My life would be complete if we could find our daughter,” she said.

Finding Jean

The couple went to Lutheran Social Services for help. The agency sent Jean a letter but she dismissed it. However, when her husband read it, he decided to conduct some further research and discovered what was going on. “When I came home from work one day he told me, I think you better sit down. In the whole 30 years of my marriage he never told me I think you should sit down,” said Jean.

After several more letters back and forth, Jean decided to meet her biological parents in May 2016. “I don’t think there are many feelings that would compare to not ever having seen your parents and then they just walk in the door. It’s a very emotional, moving experience,” said Jean. Not only that, but Jean was shocked to see the familial resemblance to her father. “When he walked through the door and I looked at him I was like, oh my gosh. Because I’ve never, ever looked like anybody before. Never. Ever.

Since then, Karen, Denny, and Jean are a happy family making up for the lost time. The parents got to bond with Jean’s family, and Jean met with her half-siblings from their previous marriages. The family even wrote a book together How Did You Find Me? about their decade-long love story and reunion.

“This is a miracle,” said Karen. “This really is.

Keep Reading: Grandson Refuses To Let Grandpa’s Sons From His First Marriage Attend His Funeral


  1. ‘It Was Just Magic’: Couple Reunites After 53 Years Apart, Finds Biological Daughter.” CBS. February 14, 2021
  2. “Love will find a way: 3 proposals, 5 decades, one romance.Kare11. Janel Klein. December 25, 2017
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.