COUER D'ALENE, Idaho - A brother and sister, separated by thousands of miles and 65 years, reunited at the Spokane Airport this past weekend, thanks to some help from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.
Millicent Smith, of Fayetteville, TN, had plans to be in Spokane for her granddaughter's basketball game against Gonzaga. Presbyterian College lost, but while here, Millicent gained a whole new family she always knew was out there.
Millicent Smith and Jake Robison's parents separated when she was four years old and he was just a baby.
"The only way I really ever knew or remembered that there was a baby was the baby book," Millicent said.
Written in cursive was her brother's name, Jacob Phillip Robison, II. But 65 Christmases have come and gone since the siblings have seen each other. She started searching for Jake several years ago.
"I thought, I have to start somewhere," she said.
An ancestry search pointed her in the direction of North Idaho. After digging deeper, she found someone with her brother's name living in Hayden. Millicent called the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Dispatch center, but Staci Sythe, Emergency Communications Officer, explained she couldn't provide her with an address of the person she was looking for. Instead, Deputy Chip Hanson was sent to deliver Millicent's message and phone number.
"He handed me a phone number and said, ‘Call this family member. They're looking for you.' And I didn't recognize it, of course. And I got on the phone and called her and she said I think I'm your sister," Jake said.
The siblings spent months talking on the phone, texting and getting to know each other.
"We had, gosh, we had a million questions," Millicent said.
This past weekend, they finally came face-to-face at the Spokane Airpot, even snapping a selfie. And on Monday, they had the opportunity to thank the Kootenai County deputies who helped reunite them after all these years.
"I actually got a little teary-eyed. I was happy and thought that's great," Sythe said.
"All I really did was knock on the door, so it feels really good knowing I played a small part in getting them back together," Hanson added.
After 65 years and more than 2,100 miles, this Christmas is spent as a family.
"It still hasn't really sunk in. It's still hard to believe after all this time," Jake said.