They say young love does not last, but Karen and Dennis know that this is possible.
Childhood sweethearts Karen Lehmann and Dennis Vinar have reconciled after 53 years of separation, which happened after she got pregnant with their daughter at 15 years old.
Karen and Dennis were high school students in Minnesota in the 1960s and became young parents, much to the surprise of their family. Lehmann, however, was forced to give up their daughter for adoption because her parents were against her relationship with Vinar.
After five decades of no communication, Dennis searched for Karen on the social media platform LinkedIn. As luck would have it, he was able to reconnect with his childhood sweetheart and met Karen in person. Three days after that meeting, the pair sealed their love by marrying each other.
In the 1960s, way back in high school, Dennis was considered to be a small-town sports star. He was popular with the young girls in their town and he could easily choose any girl to be with.
Dennis only had his eyes on one silent girl who played the clarinet: Karen Lehmann.
“With not much to do in this small town, [we] would go to dances in the school cafeteria after home football and basketball games,” Karen recalled.
Two years later, Karen learned that she was pregnant with Dennis’s child. Her parents were furious with her for getting impregnated without being married. They shipped her off to the Lutheran Social Services home for girls – it was a place where parents sent pregnant teens who were having a baby outside of wedlock. Dennis was not allowed to visit – besides. He was so busy with school and football that he didn’t have time. It was a heartbreaking time in the couple’s relationship.
Karen gave birth to Denise on August 13, 1961. The baby had her father’s eyes. But since she was still just a teen her parents didn’t allow her to keep the baby after she gave birth. They even forbade Dennis from seeing his daughter, but Karen made sure he met her and held her before they gave her up for adoption.
Karen’s parents wanted her to attend college, not taking care of a baby at 15, and so it was. While she attended college, Dennis enlisted in the army and the two lost touch.
As time passed by, they married different people, although they never forgot each other.
Years later, while he was working for a senator, Dennis learned that Karen lived near the place where he worked. He was determined to find her, so he went knocking from one house to another in hopes Karen would answer the door at one of them. But, to no avail.
More details of this beautiful love story from AWM:
For decades, the couple went their separate ways. They started their own families. Then, in 2014 at a diner party, the host asked a question: “If your physician gave you 60 days to live, who would be one person with whom you would like to talk or have dinner?”
Vinar immediately went to his phone to search for Lehmann on social media. He found her profile on LinkedIn.
“There she was—the third person down,” Vinar recalled. “And I smacked my hands together and said, ‘That’s my lady.’”
Vinar sent her a message, and Lehmann called the next day. Their timing could not have been better. Lehmann was a widow, and Vinar was divorced. The pair hit it off immediately and were able to meet up in 2015 at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“She got out… ran around, jumped on me, and said, ‘Babe, you’re home,’” Vinar said.
Within 24 hours, they decided to get married. They were wed on January 22, 2015. But there was one thing missing.
“It took me all those years to find you, and now? It would make my life complete to find our daughter,” Vinar said.
They went through the adoption agency and learned that Denise was now Jean Voxland. She was living in Kenyon, Minnesota, with her husband and three children.
The trio was reunited, and the love story was brought back full circle.
When Voxland met her biological parents, she was overjoyed.
“I got warm all over, my heart started to pound, and the tears just filled my eyes,” their daughter said. “The questions you have when you’re raised… who you are and your identity…I was like, ‘Oh my God.’”
Today, the childhood sweethearts and their daughters have been making up for lost time and are regularly getting together with their other children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Their family’s story has been turned into a book, “How Did You Find Me… After All These Years.”
Watch the video report below for more details: