For some, young love can be fleeting, but for others, it may turn out to be the true love of their lives. The road to happily-ever-after wasn’t a straight one for one Minnesota couple. It was a long and winding road that included 53 years apart!
In the early 1960s, Denny Vinar and Karen Vinar were high school sweethearts, but an incident changed everything. Karen found out she was pregnant when she was 15 years old. As a result of being sent to a home for unwed mothers,
Karen gave birth, but the couple ended up adopting their daughter. Before other life circumstances kept them apart for over five decades, they only saw each other a handful of times. However, their love never faded.
Denny tracked Karen down in 2014, knowing that he still had feelings for her. It turned out she still had feelings for him. Eventually, the couple reunited and have been together ever since. Their story was incomplete, so they decided to find their daughter who they’d given up for adoption over half a century ago.
After finding her, the family was finally reunited, and a part of them finally felt complete. It is incredibly heartwarming to see them all reunited after such a wonderful story of love that never quit. Discover more about their journey by reading on.
See the full video at the end of this article.
We often experience romantic love for the first time when we are in high school sweethearts. It’s also common for some people to move on and find new partners as they age. However, for some, those first loves are meant to be the true loves of their lives. Denny and Karen were in that situation. When they first met and began dating as teenagers, their relationship was textbook. Denny explained to CBS Minnesota:
“After football or basketball games, I would run down and shower, and she would be waiting up there.”
When Karen learned that she was pregnant, their classic high school love story would be shattered. Consequently, her family sent her to a home for unwed mothers, and Denny was only able to see her a few times. Karen gave birth to their daughter during one of those visits, and the couple was able to hold her for an hour together. As soon as she was taken away, she was put up for adoption. According to Karen, CBS reported:
“That was the last time we saw her. She was photographed and that was our last memory of her.”
There would be more goodbyes to come for the couple. Denny returned from the military and proposed to Karen, who accepted. Due to her family’s desire for her to get an education, the couple could not be together. Even though they were torn apart while in love, neither stopped thinking about the other.
Denny told CBS about his feelings for Karen after they separated:
“No, I didn’t stop thinking about her. She holds a special place in my heart. She was always there.”
Over the years, the couple lived completely different lives in other parts of the country. Still, Denny couldn’t get Karen out of his mind. Then, in 2014, 53 years after they separated, Denny decided to find Karen. After tracking her down on the internet, he left her a message where she worked in Everett, Washington. As Karen explained to CBS, she was surprised and delighted that he had gotten in touch with her:
“I called back immediately and asked, “How did you find me? ”
They spoke like no time had passed before Denny made the trip out to visit Karen. The meeting went incredibly well, as Denny said:
“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.”
According to Karen, she was equally enamored with their reunion:
“It felt like nothing had changed. His dimples are no exception. His sparkling eyes and his smile.”
After their reunion, the couple didn’t waste any time and got married just 36 hours later! When you know, you know. As life went well in the Twin Cities, they began to make up for the time they had missed in each other’s lives by settling down there.
The couple spoke further about their story on Steve Harvey’s TV show “Steve” in 2018. The couple discussed the decision to give up their daughter for adoption, and Karen explained that it was her parents who suggested the couple give the child up.
As Denny explained, he decided to search for Karen’s name after joining LinkedIn as a result of a friend’s invitation. As it turned out, she was listed right there as the third result in his search. Denny reached out, and their lives were forever changed.
It turned out that Denny had tried to find Karen before. In the past, Denny was tasked with delivering brochures to an area of town while working for a local senator. Having seen that Karen lived in the area he was delivering to, he told the audience that he hoped to run into her there. As he fought back tears, he said:
“I knocked on every door hoping Karen would come to the door, but she never did, she wasn’t there.”
It’s heartbreaking to think that Denny wanted to find Karen even earlier, but the time wasn’t right. Their story has a much happier ending now that we know they found each other. Though they were thrilled to have each other back in their lives, something else was missing.
Karen and Denny were overjoyed to have found each other after all these years, but their union did not feel complete. Despite having found each other again, they still thought about their daughter, who they had to give up for adoption. In order to find her, they decided to look for her. According to Karen, CBS asked:
“One day (Denny) said, Karen, I’m sorry it took me this long to find you. Finding our daughter would complete my life.”
As a result, Karen and Denny teamed up with Lutheran Social Services, and soon enough, they were able to locate Jean. Jean received a letter from the agency, but she threw it away before realizing what it was truly about. Jean’s husband read it, however, and looked into the situation further. The way he told her about what had happened was as follows:
He told me to sit down one day when I came home from work. I never heard him say, “I think you should sit down.” in the 30 years of my marriage.”
For the first time in nearly 50 years, she learned her biological parents were trying to find her. The two parties exchanged more letters before meeting in person in May 2016. The emotional moment was described by Jean as follows:
I don’t think there are many feelings that compare to never having seen your parents and then seeing them walk in. The experience is very emotional and moving.”
Upon meeting the family, Jean described an incredible feeling she had for the first time in her life. When she saw her father for the first time, she instantly recognized her face:
The moment he walked through the door, I was like, oh my gosh. I’ve never looked like anyone else before. No way. No matter what.”
With the family reunited, Karen, Denny, and Jean are making up for lost time by being a part of each other’s lives again. Jean has even met her half-siblings – Karen and Denny’s children from their previous marriages – while the couple has also become close to Jean’s family. Following the reunion, the family is making the most of the time they have together after missing countless birthdays, holidays, and other important occasions. They have even collaborated on a book titled “How Did You Find Me?”
Denny and Karen are clearly in love and excited to spend their lives together:
“Our love for each other is unparalleled. Even today, it’s unbelievable. There will always be dancing in the kitchen.”
There is a fairytale ending to their story, both romantically and with their entire family, including Jean. We can only imagine how grateful and hopeful Denny and Karen must be for finding the true love of their lives again after 53 years.