By Bonny Burrows
For 40 years Christine Goodman grew up as an only child while knowing she had other siblings.
During this time, the Pakenham woman searched, hoping one day to be reunited with her long-lost family; every Christmas a reminder of what was missing.
Ms Goodman almost gave up looking until Valentine’s Day 2016 saw the 49-year old ironically reconnected with her half-sister Catherine through Facebook, bringing with it a new-found sisterly love.
She said it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I was right on the very end of giving up because 40 years is such a long time. I thought there was no hope,” Ms Goodman said.
“(Up until then) it was very frustrating, very heartbreaking. I felt defeated in the end, but then on Valentine’s Day all my dreams came true.”
Ms Goodman soon discovered she had two other half-siblings, Patsy and Michael from her mother’s previous relationship, and last Christmas flew to Western Australia to meet her extended family.
It was a big feat for the mother-of-three, who suffers from muscular dystrophy which leaves her wheelchair bound.
She also feared she wouldn’t be accepted by the family, after hearing many stories of reunions not going to plan.
But as she put it, all her Christmases had come at once.
“Straight away there was a connection with all three of them. I was the baby sister,” Ms Goodman said.
Her extended family, full of nephews, nieces and “so many” cousins, also welcomed her with open arms, overwhelming Ms Goodman with their love and support.
“This Christmas just gone 20 of us all there, it was like this was a party,” Ms Goodman said.
“I had to remind myself these aren’t just friends, these are my family. Growing up an only child, Christmas will never be the same.”
After spending 10 days in Western Australia connecting and catching up on a lifetime of memories, Ms Goodman returned home a new person.
The siblings now chat daily and “big sister” Catherine and her husband are planning to visit Ms Goodman in September.
Ms Goodman said she was glad she never gave up searching and encouraged those in a similar situation to keep trying.
“It’s the best thing I could have done for myself. If anyone’s got family out there, they should look them up. It never hurts to ask,” she said.
“My siblings are such a blessing to me and this is something I will never regret, not even for a second.”