After two decades apart, Melissa Greene of Mansfield and her sister Katie Crawford never thought they would see their half-sister and brother again. But they recently found the half-sister, Raquel Rose, in the very town Green lives in.

After two decades apart, Melissa Greene of Mansfield and her sister Katie Crawford never thought they would see their half-sister and brother again. But they recently found the half-sister, Raquel Rose, in the very town Green lives in.


“We never thought we would be able to find Raquel,” said Katie, an Attleboro resident. “We never knew if she was looking for us, and she never knew if we had cared to look for her.”


Prior to having children with their mother, Katie and Melissa’s father, Gary Rose, had been involved in a serious relationship with another woman, with whom he had two children, a daughter, Raquel Rose, and a son, Stephen Rose.


“I had always thought about them and I had always wanted to find them,” Melissa said.


Up until they were toddlers, Katie and Melissa spent time with their two older half-siblings during visits to their paternal grandmother’s house. However, when the two were 3 and 4, respectively, the relationship with their older half-siblings abruptly ceased.


“I didn’t know why they were taken out of my life,” Raquel said, referring to Katie and Melissa. “Our parents didn’t talk about it. (Stephen and I) had our own ideas about it, but we didn’t really know.”


Raquel, now a 38-year-old Mansfield resident with a child her own, said she has been searching for her half-sisters since they were taken out of her life some 20 years ago.


She had tried MySpace, Facebook and other online search services for her sisters in the past, but each time her attempts proved unsuccessful.


“I had a hard time finding them because I wasn’t sure if they took my father’s last name,” Raquel said.


Aware the girls had lived with their mother in Brockton growing up, Raquel recalled going to Brockton City Hall on one occasion to see if she could obtain any information about her half sisters. According to Raquel, the person she spoke to at the city hall told her he could not divulge any personal information.


“At that point I was like ‘This is going to be pretty tough for me,’” Raquel said. “I just couldn’t find them. I started praying that they would find me.”


In what can only be called a holiday miracle, Katie and Melissa, now both in their mid-20s, were reunited with Raquel on Nov. 12.


“It was like something out of a movie,” Raquel said. “We went running to each other (and) started hugging each other, telling each other we loved each other.”


What makes the sisters’ tale even more surreal is the fact that they owe their chance reunion to the wildly popular social networking Web site Facebook.


About two weeks ago, Melissa decided to send one of her aunts an e-mail in hopes of unearthing some previously undisclosed information that would help her reunite with her siblings.


“She had found a close relative of ours a few years ago and I figured she might be able to help me do the same thing with my brother and sister,” Melissa said.


After sending the e-mail, Melissa decided to take fate into her own hands.


Putting her 21st-century sleuthing skills to the test, Melissa conducted a search for Raquel on Facebook.


“I looked under Raquel Rose, even though I wasn’t sure if she had changed her last name,” Melissa said. “She was about the second person that came up.”


To confirm that the Raquel Rose she had found on Facebook was indeed her sister, Melissa sent a message to the user’s account.


“I was at work and I get this message on my phone from a Melissa asking if my father’s name was Gary,” Raquel said.


Slightly taken aback, Melissa responded hesitantly.


“When I got the message I was like ‘Yes my father’s name was Gary and he has passed away. Why are you asking?’” Raquel said. “After I sent the message I thought, ‘Is this going to be my sister?’”


About 25 minutes later, Raquel received a response from Melissa confirming what she felt all along in her heart was true. Melissa was her sister.


“She sends me a message saying her father’s name was Gary John Rose and that he had passed away I said ‘Oh my god. You’re my sister,’” Raquel said. “I was freaking out.”


Following her conversation with Raquel, Melissa called Katie to tell her the good news.


“She called me at work and was like, ‘You’ll never guess who I found on Facebook,’ and I’m thinking an old high school friend,” Katie said. “I never thought it would be them.”


Melissa finds it astonishing that with just a few mouse clicks and strokes of a computer keyboard, she was able to find a sister she hadn’t seen in nearly two decades. Raquel still wrestles to understand her good fortune.


“Here I am searching for them for years, and (Melissa) finds me after 10 minutes,” Raquel said.


Melissa said her search for her half-siblings began about three years ago after she used an online search service to search for her father.


“I figured it would be easier to find him because I wasn’t sure if Raquel had gotten married or changed her last name,” Melissa said.


Melissa’s hopes of finding her siblings were all but lost after learning from the Internet search engine that her father had passed away several years earlier.


Undeterred, Katie and Melissa continued to search for Raquel on Myspace and Facebook as the popularity of social networking Web sites grew.


As chance would have it, Melissa was the first sister to strike it rich.


“We’ve been under each other’s noses, but never actually connected,” Melissa said, referring to the fact that she has been living in Mansfield since August, with Raquel unknowingly living a mere three minute car ride away in the same town.


The day after meeting Raquel face to face Nov. 12, Katie and Melissa met their brother, Stephen Rose, now 42, at his home in Taunton.


“It was an instant bond, like we had never been separated,” Raquel said.


Katie agreed.


“There was no awkwardness. It was very nice. Just a very warm feeling,” Katie said.


Since meeting one another, Raquel said the siblings cannot see enough of one another. They plan to spend Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays together.


“Forget buying gifts for one another. We are each other’s gifts,” Raquel said.


“I keep telling people it’s the best Christmas present I could get,” Melissa said.


The sisters said the timing of the reunion could not be better, as the holidays have been somewhat dimly lit in recent years.


Raquel and Stephen’s mother died in 2004, while Katie and Melissa’s mother passed away in 2002.


“I was sad to find out their mom had passed away,” Raquel said. “We both have small families now, so this makes our families a whole lot bigger.”


The siblings’ father, Gary Rose, died 11 years ago, according to Raquel. A Navy Seabee veteran who served during the Vietnam War, Gary Rose is buried in the Massachusetts National Veterans’ Cemetery in Bourne, Mass. The siblings plan to visit his grave together in the coming weeks.


Raquel said it’s the least they could do now that they have found one another.


“We feel that our parents brought this whole thing together.”


Melissa agreed.


“This is way too much of miracle for somebody above not to have something to do with it.”


Stacey Gallotta can be reached at 508-967-3508, or at sgallott@cnc.com.