Julia Mauer posted a Facebook plea on Tuesday for help in finding the brother she hasn't seen since they were kids more than a dozen years ago. By Wednesday night, she had found him.
"I've never felt this happy, this sort of fulfillment, and closure of the past in my entire life," a tearful Mauer told ABC News today. "It's tears of joy. It's also a new beginning. I have part of my family back, I have part of myself back."
Mauer, 24, lives in Lochbuie, Colo. She found her brother, Isaiah Luke, 19, just 30 miles away in Aurora, Colo.
They haven't met in person yet, but for now are friends on Facebook.
"He accepted my friend request on Facebook and I've been stalking him," Mauer said. "He's so handsome and he's so tall."
She remembers his bright blue eyes and said, "I miss seeing those eyes."
Mauer, who is now a manager at a medical center and owns Julia's Wraps and Rhinestones, remembers growing up with parents who suffered from substance abuse and were physically and verbally abusive. Child Protection Services had to intervene. Mauer, her twin sister, Isaiah and their youngest sister Sarah were removed from their home.
Sharing one mother but different fathers, Mauer's paternal grandmother was granted custody of the twins, while Isaiah and Sarah were temporarily placed with their paternal grandmother. Mauer was 12 and her brother was 7.
"Their father kept on coming back and was physically abusive," Mauer recalls, so Isaiah and Sarah were put into foster care. They were later adopted and they lost contact.
"Growing up there weren't a lot of great things, but he was such a light in my life," Mauer says of her brother. "When he was born, we had something to care for."
Mauer began searching for Isaiah about five years ago. She scoured Facebook and went as far as looking up athletic rosters and high school online yearbooks to find Isaiah. "I have looked high and low, searched his name a million times on Facebook," searching three to four days out of the week, "thinking of any way I could possibly find him."
"I always found dead ends," she said, but added, "I had this draw to find him."
She decided it was time to take it to the public. On Tuesday afternoon, Mauer posted a Facebook selfie and a sign that displays all the information she knows of her baby brother. Along with the post, she included a blurb urging people to share her story, to tell people of her "little brother named Isaiah Luke who has been missing from my life for the past 12 ½ years."
"I was sitting here and something just told me to do it," Mauer said.
When she woke up Wednesday, the post had been shared 2,000 times.
Overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from the Facebook community, "I just started crying," Mauer said, "I was so happy, I couldn't believe it."
Two Colorado TV stations also saw her post and interviewed Mauer about her search. Those stories prompted a woman to contact her through Facebook to tell her that her brother had adopted a boy that matched the description except he was born in December of 1993 and not 1994.
Mauer gave it a shot. She typed in the last name of the adoptive family and what she saw has convinced her that she found her brother: his photo, the blue eyes and the middle name of Luke.
"I literally almost passed out," Mauer said.
"I was just crying uncontrollably for about three hours. I fall to pieces talking about it," Mauer said. "It's really possible, nothing is off forever," Mauer said, "if you can't go a day without thinking of somebody, it's proof they should be in their life."
All these years she's wondered if her brother ever thought about her and her twin sister. In a response through Facebook messaging, Isaiah wrote, "I've spent the last 12 years telling everybody about my sisters."
"That melted my heart," Mauer said.
Adopted by a same-sex family, Isaiah has two dads. One of her last memories of Isaiah was a meeting at the park after he had come back from staying with a prospective family. "He was so excited and he kept mentioning there were two dads, no moms, just two dads," she said.
One sibling down, one more to go. Mauer is waiting until their youngest sister Sarah turns 18 to find her. "I don't want to step on their adoptive family's toes," Mauer explains the significance of the number 18. "If I wait until they're an adult, they can decide if they want to have me in their lives."
"I just want to hug him, I just want to see him, hear his voice, just be around him, and feel his presence," Mauer said. "I think it will just be a rush of emotions and I will be rendered speechless," but Mauer says that she is excited to start a future with her brother in her life going forward.
"Facebook can be a way for a lot of people to find who they're looking for," Mauer said hoping that her story will inspire others to start their search as well.