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Siblings who grew up in different families get together for special reunion

Published: Saturday, July 6 2013 12:45 p.m. MDT

Siblings Galen Chatterton, Charlotte Ewing, Cathy Galvan and LaRetta Williams get together for a unique reunion. The siblings had never meet each other Thursday, July 4, 2013. They were raised by different families, but all had the same mother.

Mike Anderson, Deseret News

SANDY — It was a family reunion unlike any other.

A group of siblings who have the same mother got together for the first time in a unique reunion Thursday following years of effort to find each other.

The six siblings were split across several states and came from three different families, but they all had one thing in common — their mother, Betty Lou Campbell.

Campbell was homeless at 11 years old and had a daughter when she was 13, according to her children. They said their oldest sister has still not been located. At 19, Campbell had a son, Galen Chatterton, and placed for adoption.

Chatterton, 64, said he didn't even realize he had been adopted until he was almost 40 years old. He said his mother actually found him seven years after he discovered he was given up at birth.

Chatterton set out trying to track down and locate his other biological siblings. The process was difficult, as Campbell changed both her first and last names over the years.

On Thursday, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles all came together for the first time.

"I feel a love for them," Chatterton said. "And I feel love from them. I welcome not only everybody in my family into my home; I welcome them into my life."

Some of the siblings traveled from California and Texas for the reunion. It was a rather large family of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Campbell got married a few years later and had three children: Charlotte Rose Ewing, Cathy Galvan and Charles Eugene "Ricky" Galvan. She then got divorced and remarried and had B.J. Williams and LaRetta Williams. She got divorced and remarried one more time and then adopted LaRetta "Jeaunniene" Joli Roberts.

Despite their mother's difficult life, the siblings said they don't hold any bitter feelings. Some said the fact their mother was kicked out of her home at such a young age and felt like she didn’t belong anywhere probably played a role in how she acted later in life.

The siblings say even though they didn’t grow up together, they were happy to finally meet each other.

"One main common denominator caused all of this," said LaRetta Williams, 54. "And no regrets."

Williams said her mother left her and her older brother, B.J., when she was 5 and he was 7.

LaRetta Williams flew in from Texas for the reunion. She said her family just went from a few to a whole bunch.

“There are so many similarities with everybody’s family,” she said. "We’ve shared so many of the same things.”

"I call it a union," said Charlotte Ewing, 62, a California resident.

"We're all like one big family. We just have never got together. I always wanted a big brother. I used to imagine having a big brother, and there he is," Ewing said, pointing to Chatterton.

It turns out the siblings raised in different households all have artistic talents and are in the performing arts.

The siblings said their mother passed away two years ago. They shared their stories and memories of her to piece together her history.

"When I was about 7 or 8, she actually came to visit us," said Cathy Galvan, 61, a California resident. "And this is how she was. She'd stay and then she'd disappear. Stay and disappear."

Chatterton said that although their mother has passed away, he felt that she was also attending the reunion in spirit.

"Today, I'm sure she is really excited," he said.

However, the family members seemed to be more focused on their future together than the past.

"I love family," Williams said. "I love a big family. And now I really have one."

Despite being raised apart, “we’re all the same, and that’s the coolest part,” Ewing said with a tear in her eye.

The family said that there were two more siblings who couldn't make it to the reunion, but that they were planning to all get together again soon.

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

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