Dennis Vinar and Karen Lehmann were once young and madly in love; they had even had plans to get married. But when Lehmann fell pregnant, the baby was put up for adoption – and the couple’s relationship was never the same again. Decades later, though, the former sweethearts reunited. And what happened after that makes for a truly remarkable story.
Vinar and Lehmann had first met back in high school in Minnesota. He had been a football star; she, by contrast, had been more reserved, with a passion for playing the clarinet. The two still found each other, though, and began a romantic relationship.
And as Vinar would later relate, he believed that his girlfriend was “very special.” What’s more, he revealed to KARE 11 in December 2017, he “was always late for football practice because I was walking Karen home.” Vinar added to the station, “That was much more important, I thought.”
Fortunately for Vinar, though, Lehmann was also totally infatuated with him. “It was a fascination, probably,” she explained while looking back at her young relationship during the KARE 11 interview. “I was intrigued with him because he was very popular.” Then, when Lehmann was only 15 years old, something huge happened.
That is, Lehmann got pregnant by Vinar. And given the social climate at the time, the pair were therefore expected to marry, so Vinar duly proposed. There was just one problem, though: Lehmann’s parents were disapproving of the couple’s relationship and so refused to let their daughter and Vinar wed.
So, as a result, Lehmann was shipped off to a maternity home, where she would have the baby. And, in time, she gave birth to a girl, who was swiftly taken away for adoption. But that wouldn’t be the end of Lehmann and Vinar’s romance…
Indeed, although Lehmann’s father in particular had expressed his concerns about Vinar, the teenager still got back in touch with her high school boyfriend anyway. And the pair began dating once again, with Vinar still enthusiastic about them getting married.
In fact, Vinar would propose for a second time – and Lehmann was ecstatic. But, unfortunately, they would come up against opposition yet again. “I was all excited about it at first, until I went home to tell my parents, and they did not approve of that at all,” she recalled to KARE 11.
Then Vinar was recruited into the Army and Lehmann got a place at college. And the distance between them, combined with the fact that Lehmann’s dad had been hiding Vinar’s letters from his daughter, meant that the relationship eventually fizzled out.
“I went through hell to be with her. But I couldn’t,” Vinar would later say to KARE 11. But life went on for the former couple: Vinar and Lehmann would eventually marry others, in fact, with both going on to have more children. And five whole decades would go by without any contact between the two of them – that is, until Vinar had a bright idea.
Having been divorced for years, Vinar decided to try and trace his teenage sweetheart after so many years apart. A friend had encouraged Vinar to sign up to LinkedIn, and once he had done so, he did some digging. Specifically, he typed in “Karen Lehmann” into the search bar and waited to see who would pop up.
And as it happened, the third account on the results list did indeed belong to his high school girlfriend. Clapping his hands, Vinar exclaimed, “That’s my lady!” Next, it was time to get in touch with the woman he had once loved so long ago.
Vinar wasted little time in reconnecting with Lehmann, in fact, getting in touch with her the day after his LinkedIn discovery. And that first conversation led to another, then another. Indeed, they continued to speak together on the phone for months after that initial call. Perhaps, then, there was still something between them.
And, in time, Vinar and Lehmann decided to take their reunion to the next level and meet in person again. What’s more, as the pair were both single, there was no reason for romance not to flourish yet again. Indeed, things moved incredibly quickly from then on.
Within just two days of seeing each other in the flesh, in fact, the old flames were married. It had only taken him three attempts, but Vinar had finally made the girl of his dreams his wife. “It was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful,” Vinar said to KARE 11 of his finding and finally wedding Lehmann.
There was something else on the couple’s minds, however: the baby they had had to give up for adoption when they were teenagers. And, at first, Vinar and Lehmann had differing opinions on whether they should try to find her or not. Vinar, for one, was sure that it would complete their reunion; his new wife, however, was concerned about any upheaval it would bring to her long-lost daughter’s life.
Eventually, though, Lehmann accepted Vinar’s wish to track down their child. And so, with the help of an adoption agency, the newly reunited couple tried to reach out to their daughter, who was now named Jean Voxland. Voxland, in turn, was subsequently informed that her biological parents were looking for her.
As it turned out, though, Vinar and Lehmann’s daughter was willing to see her mom and dad. So, the three of them arranged to meet. The occasion would be the only time that the trio had been together since Voxland’s birth, all those years ago.
And after encountering her birth parents again, Voxland was understandably overwhelmed with emotion. “My heart started to pound, and the tears just filled my eyes,” she later revealed to KARE 11. “It was like, ‘I look like somebody!’ and I kind of felt like I belonged.”
What’s more, the parents and daughter have since spent plenty of time together. And Lehmann, for her part, has described the whole situation as a “miracle.” Her husband seems to view his reunion with Lehmann as something more akin to fate, though, judging by comments he made to The Daily Herald in 2015. “I just knew – just knew – we were really meant for each other,” he said.