BEMENT, Ill. (WCIA)– The new Chief of Police in Bement reunited a family halfway across the world merely by helping his future sister-in-law with her required documents to come to the states.
Chief of Police Don Shepard met his fiancé, Amie Soriano, over a dating application. For their wedding, he wanted his future sister-in-law, Joesphine, to be able to fly to the United States, as his fiancé’s family is from the Philippines.
So they began the lengthy process, which turned into something no one expected.
During this, Shepard’s future sister-in-law realized while trying to get her passport that she had the wrong birth certificate. Shepard said, “She gets an appointment and the consulate tells her, ‘Your papers are wrong.'” So, Shepard sent them $30 for their birth certificates to get her visa.
Once receiving her (Josephine’s) birth certificate, the family got Fina’s birth certificate realized her name was spelled incorrectly and she had been celebrating her birthday on the wrong day. The family then got both Fina and Fina’s dad’s birth certificate.
Now, comes the twist no one expected, especially Shepard.
Fina, Josephine’s mother, had been thought to be dead for 43 years, but her family never gave up searching.
She ran away from her family when she was 14, and no one is aware of how she survived. However, she was 10 hours away from her family the entire time.
Fina is the mother of Josephine. Josephine and Fina have been searching for their long-lost family for a long time.
Josephine immediately made a Facebook account for her mom, Fina, with the correct spelling. In doing so one day, one of Fina’s siblings contacted her.
Then, Anne–her sister–found her account. Anne currently lives in Qatar working as a nanny. So after finding Fina, Anne sent money for a van to pick up the family and reunite them. They danced, ate traditional Filipino dishes, and made up for lost time on July 15th. Shepard visited too in February after many attempts during COVID.
Amie said, “I didn’t know they existed, but Fina and Josephine are so motivated to find them, and after we got the birth certificate for Fina, we put her correct name in on social media and luck came and we found Fina’s family.
“All I could do is just sit there and cry. I thought ‘Oh, my god, I did this.’ For a $30 birth certificate for the two of them? All because her (Josephine’s) passport got denied. Yeah, if her passport had not been denied she would not have needed her birth certificate.” exclaimed Shepard.
Shepard’s children were surprised and are happy for him. “Dad, wow, like wow, that is amazing.”
Amie said, “I am very happy for them because Fina is completely happy now with her family, and seeing them happy makes my heart melt.”
As for her relationship with Don, that is currently long-distance–The Philippines to the quaint village of Bement. “Yes, I feel excited to be with him there so we will not be a part again. And we talk every day, and he is always talking to my family on video calls and chats.”
Amie said while Fina’s mother died before seeing her daughter again, she never gave up hope. “Fina’s mother thought she has to be still alive, so before she died she told Anne to find Fina. It’s like mother instincts.”
All because of a future sister-in-law’s birth certificate, Shepard re-connected a family. This entire process, including Shepard meeting the family, took time because COVID shut down entry into the U.S. multiple times. Last February he visited them by total surprise, and he plans to visit once again by total surprise this fall.