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Persistence pays off as siblings meet
Joyce Flom, right, fluffs small holiday trees Friday with her sister Janice Hamilton, left, of Lancaster, Ohio, and sister-in-law Melissa Kronberger of Bountiful, Utah. Flom's siblings, who were recently reunited after being separated as children, came from all around the country to visit on Thanksgiving.

The holidays bring many families together, giving them the opportunity to catch up and share old memories.

For Joyce Flom, Thanksgiving brought the chance to get her family together under one roof in Billings, allowing her sister and brothers to meet for the first time.

Friday night, Flom, Janice Hamilton and Brad and Steve Kronberger, and their spouses, attended the Downtown Holiday Parade. Even though it was one of their first outings as a family, it's tough to tell that they are still getting to know one another.

"It's kind of like we've already known each other all this time," Flom said.

Family difficulties

In 1947, Flom and Hamilton, both born in Glendive, were put up for adoption by their mother because of family problems that haven't been fully determined. Flom was about 2, and Hamilton was just 6 weeks old. The girls were adopted by separate families and grew up never knowing each other.

In 2004, Flom began searching for her biological family after her adoptive parents died. She knew her birth mother's name and that she had a younger sister, but that was about it.

"I knew if I found my mother, I could find my sister," she said.

In September 2005, after gathering what she could from the state and her birth town of Glendive, her search led her to Bountiful, Utah. There, Flom learned that her mother, Evelyn Kronberger, had died, but that she also had two brothers, Brad and Steve Kronberger.

The two men didn't know they had any other siblings.

"I was kind of hesitant at first," Steve Kronberger said of the first call he received from Flom. "But in the back of my mind, I'd always wondered."

She still hadn't tracked down her sister, but in 2007 she caught a break.

Genealogy records

She found an obituary for Hamilton's adoptive father and, with the help of her newfound brothers and genealogy records from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, tracked her to Lancaster, Ohio.

"It just happened that there were two (people) there by her name," Flom said. "One of them was listed and the other wasn't. The Lord must've been on my shoulder that day, because she's the one that was listed."

Flom began attempting to call Hamilton, who screens her calls. It took a few more phone calls, but Hamilton's curiosity was piqued and on Jan. 7, 2007, she answered one of them.

"We got off the phone two or three hours later," Hamilton said. "I knew she couldn't be pulling my leg. I always wanted brothers and sisters, and I was just so excited."

The siblings all speak and trade e-mails frequently - and Flom has met them all in person - but Hamilton and the brothers had never met until this week.

When they saw Hamilton and Flom together for the first time, Steve and Brad Kronberger instantly saw the family resemblance.

"When I saw a picture of both (of them), it kind of spooked me," Brad Kronberger said. "They look so much like Mom."

With the holiday weekend to spend together, they're all doing their best to catch up after decades of not knowing each other. Flom met each at the airport as they arrived earlier this week. They spent most of Thanksgiving doing what most families do, talking and stuffing themselves on holiday goodies.

On Friday, Steve Kronberger woke up before the sun rose to do something that wasn't a possibility until 2005.

"I got up with my two sisters and went holiday shopping," he said.

Afterward, they spent the day helping Flom with another holiday tradition, decorating her house for Christmas. They didn't finish decorating until 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Today, they plan on heading over to Sears to take their first family picture.

The siblings also hope to get together more often, and they said this week was a good start.

"It's definitely an inner bond we've got," Steve Kronberger said. "I'm sure Mom's smiling down on all this right now."

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