CINCINNATI -- Decades melted away in Eastgate Saturday night as two sisters who'd never met were brought together through the power of Facebook.
Nicholle Oliver was a nervous wreck as she waited patiently with her fiancé Jimmy Hollenbach for Rosie Briggs Franklin, her long lost sister.
"(I’m) just crazy, nervous, anxious, excited," Oliver said leading up to the long-awaited encounter.
Oliver was adopted shortly after her birth in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in the Pittsburgh area.
She spent her entire life wondering about her family and decided to post a picture to Facebook on March 7 to see if she could find out more information about her birth parents and any possible siblings.
“I was born on November 18, 1977 in Washington, Penn. I was put up for adoption through catholic charities. I am looking for my birth parents from Columbus, Ohio. My birth mother's name is Jodi Hildreth. She would be 64-years-old. Please share on Facebook.”
The 36-year-old’s cries for help were answered almost immediately thanks in large part to the overwhelming response from the social media world.
Two photos displaying Oliver and the plea she penned on a dry erase board have been shared nearly 5,000 times on Facebook alone.
On Monday, Oliver reinforced her search efforts when she gave her information to the people behind the social media group Search Squad, dedicated to helping people find their lost relatives and friends.
Within eight hours Oliver had “all of (her) answers."
“(They used) my mother’s name, when she died, and (told me) that there was a relative they said to contact that might be related, might not be,” Oliver recalled.
She found out much more than that, though.
“And then (they told me) that I had another sister, two sisters I didn’t know I had.”
In addition to Franklin, her older sister by three years, Oliver learned she had another sister, Dollie Conant, of Lima, Ohio.
Oliver turned to Facebook once again to announce the news.
"Holy [expletive] I found my sisters Rosie Briggs Franklin and Dollie Conant," she posted March 11.
She followed up with "Life is so amazing sometimes. I can't even explain my emotions. Can't wait to go to Cincinnati this weekend" and "AAAAAAANNNNDDDDD...I'm Irish! lol....My grandfather came over on a boat!" the same day.
Collectively, the status updates have been "liked" nearly 400 times and received more than 130 comments from friends, admiring strangers and family members, some of whom she's still waiting to meet.
Conant, both women’s older sister, was the one who saw Oliver’s original social media post. She immediately called Franklin to let her know she was informally introduced to their younger sister.
"And here was my sister that I had no idea she was even alive, holding a picture with my mom's name, Jodi Hildreth, and I am looking for my family," Franklin said. “I was just shocked. I just sat there for a minute and looked at it like, ‘is this for real?’”
Franklin and Conant, who grew up together, knew their mother had given birth to another girl, but they knew her as "Jenni." They thought "Jenni" was dead because their mother was "an addict" and told them that their baby sister was "born with problems," Franklin said.
Although Oliver was given the name "Jenni," it was changed to "Nicholle" upon her adoption.
“I’m so happy that she’s okay because my mother told me when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter that she had a daughter (Oliver), she wasn’t well, and she gave her up for adoption,” Franklin recalled.
“That and she had her in Pennsylvania that was all I had to go. Since her name is actually 'Nicholle' there’s no way I could have found her.”
Because Oliver did the “smart thing” and posted a picture on Facebook, Franklin said, the sisters had a chance to get to know one another ahead of their first face-to-face encounter.
"We've been on the phone, messaging on Facebook, texting each other," Franklin said on Thursday. "It's been really insane."
Even though they were glad to talk on the phone and message one another, nothing compared to the anticipation of their first meeting.
"1 more sleep:))))))))) — feeling excited with Dollie Conant and Rosie Briggs Franklin," Oliver posted to Facebook on Friday, hours before she left her home in Houston, Penn. for her trip to Cincinnati.
The meeting took place 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn in Eastgate where Oliver and her fiancé were staying.
Unbeknownst to Oliver, Franklin had arrived early in order to set up a surprise greeting from behind. What else would you expect from an older sibling?
Out of no where, as Oliver gazed anxiously at the road from in front of the hotel, her sister grabbed her from behind.
"Happy St. Patrick's Day,” Franklin laughed as she sneakily embraced her little sister, who was fittingly wearing a "Kissy Me, I'm Irish" shirt to celebrate her newly discovered Irish ancestry.
“You are so tiny. You're, like, smaller than me. It's crazy," Franklin remarked.
Franklin, a roller derby athlete, handed her newfound sister a
team T-shirt that read "Black and Blue Roller Girls." She insisted that Oliver “had to have (her) shirt” because it was such an important part of her as a person.
While there are some obvious physical differences – the way they speak and certain personality quirks – it’s clear the two women are sisters. Those similarities aren’t lost on their friends and families, either.
"Your mouths are smiles are identical. Gorgeous," wrote Polly Johnson Duron on Facebook.
"Amazing – amazing, I guess. Probably. I don't know. I'm just so happy that she's alive and that she's OK and she's beautiful and is living a good full life. And perfectly normal, perfectly normal, practically perfect in every way."
As evening fell, Oliver and her future husband met with Franklin and her family to share pictures and stories while sipping on adult beverages to celebrate the holiday and the miraculous nature of their encounter.
They also had time to snap a few photos, which were immediately uploaded to Facebook. Oliver and Franklin are both using one as their main profile image.
"It's unbelievable,” Oliver said of the opportunity to meet her relatives. “I have this huge hole filled that I never thought would be filled. It's crazy."
But the experience didn’t end in that hotel lounge.
On Sunday, they drove to Lima to meet Conant, another sister Oliver had never met.
"It was awesome because knowing that Dollie was with our Mom when she was pregnant with me is crazy," Oliver said.
"She's hilarious," Franklin said. "So, we just did nothing but laugh while we were together up there."
It's just a guess, but they'll probably be seeing quite a bit of one another in the not too distant future.
“It’s just so amazing,” Franklin said.
The messages kept flowing in for Oliver, whose story has spread from coast to coast.
"I just saw you on my local news in Indianapolis. I just saw you on my local news in South Carolina -- just everywhere that it's been. We shared it with my other sister who lives in Tuscon," she said of notes she's received.
Franklin heard from her step-brother in Portland, Ore., and other family members as well.
"Both of my uncles that live in two different places in Fayetteville, North Carolina, have contacted me -- said that our story aired there," Franklin said.
Alas, the weekend ended and it was time for Nicholle and Jimmy to head back to Pittsburgh.
"I don't want to go back, really," Oliver said. "I'll be sad. But, we have our whole lives now, which is awesome."
While they have many memories to check of their bucket list together, one stands out.
"We want to dance with Ellen," the sisters said.