Half-sister act

DNA testing unlocks mystery of biological connections for 2 local women.

Sisters Karey Carlton-Yarborough, left, and Tara Bauer, right, hold a photo from when they were united on August 12, 2022, as they pose together on the beach at Karey’s home on Lake Weir in Ocklawaha on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.

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Posted May 2, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore

Two half-sisters, one given up for adoption in 1966, seven years before the other was born, met face to face for the first time last year after both took Ancestry.com DNA tests and results indicated they had a 28% match.

Karey Carlton-Yarborough, who was given up for adoption 57 years ago by her biological mother, Nancy Cromer-Marino, met her half-sister Tara Bauer, 49, for the first time ever on Aug. 12 at The Legacy Restaurant at Nancy Lopez Country Club in The Villages.

The two half-sisters had lived less than perhaps 20 miles apart in two different counties over the years and likely crossed paths.

Carlton-Yarborough said meeting her sister was “overwhelming and exciting.”

“We spent time comparing similarities at our first meeting. We both talk with our hands,” she said describing one of the siblings’ shared mannerisms.

Bauer also described the first meeting.

“It was like seeing my mom and my aunt at the same time,” she remarked.

The siblings’ path to the 2022 meeting rewinds back to 1966.

Nancy Cromer, then a single mom living in Miami, was working three jobs to support three other children and the relationship resulting in the birth of Carlton-Yarborough didn’t work out. Cromer sought a better life for her infant daughter and the adoption was made final in August, 1966.

Carlton-Yarborough grew up in South Miami with a loving and caring adoptive mom and dad, Jean (Newman) Carlton and Bobby Carlton.

“My adoptive mother told me I was a special gift from God because she couldn’t have children,” Carlton-Yarborough said in a recent interview along with Bauer at her Lake Weir home.

Carlton-Yarborough said her parents introduced her as adopted so it would “never come as a surprise.”

Bobby Carlton’s career as a football coach included a state championship for Miami High in 1965, according to an obituary published Feb. 10, 2022, in the “Miami Herald” four days after his passing. Carlton was with South Ridge High School in south Dade County for 16 years and inducted into the Florida Coaching Hall of Fame in 2006, Carlton-Yarborough said.

Carlton-Yarborough said her biological mom, Cromer, and Bobby Carlton both attended Miami High and graduated around 1955 and very possibly knew each other.

Nancy Cromer (Marino) and Tara’s father, Hector Marino, married in 1973. The family lived in the northern end of Dade County. Hector Marino passed away in 1993.

Carlton-Yarborough went to Palmetto High School and Tara Bauer went to American Senior High School in Hialeah.

The siblings learned later they attended the same Michael Jackson concert at the Orange Bowl in Miami in the mid-1980s Carlton-Yarborough worked at Burdine’s Department Store in Dadeland Mall in southwest Dade County in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During that time, her biological mom visited the mall for a glamour portrait. 

By her 20’s, Carlton-Yarborough sought details about her adoption and was able to retrieve a microfilm record through Vital Statistics records in Orlando, which were “non-identifying” but generally described her biological family. The information only served to increase her curiosity to at least see photos of her biological family, but Carlton-Yarborough’s birth mom and family remained a mystery.

Carlton-Yarborough moved to Dallas with her husband, but that marriage dissolved around 2000.

Jean Carlton died in 2006. Spencer Yarborough, a childhood friend of Carlton-Yarborough, saw the obituary for Jean Carlton, who taught both a typing class in high school, and he and Carlton-Yarborough reconnected.

Carlton-Yarborough moved to Melbourne, Florida, in 2006 and she and Spencer Yarborough were married in 2014. In 2018, they moved to a home on Lake Weir, a location where his family has vacationed for many years.

Coincidentally, Tara Bauer moved to the Ocala area after marrying Chris Bauer in 2006, but the siblings still did not meet until 16 years later.

Spencer Yarborough said the coincidences over the years and the sisters’ first meeting are “like a movie.”

Carlton-Yarborough said the sister she grew up with, Karmel Horvath, who was also adopted, bought her an Ancestry.com kit as a Christmas gift but the kit “sat in my drawer for three years as I did not really believe that they worked.”

“When my adoptive father passed away in 2022 … my husband … encouraged me to pursue finding my biological family/siblings,” she wrote in an email.

The Ancestry.com website states even “if the person you’re trying to find hasn’t taken the test, a close relative of theirs may have.”

“The good news is that DNA testing is becoming increasingly popular; there are currently 22 million people (and counting) in the AncestryDNA database,” the website states.

Bauer joined Ancestry.com several years ago, but Carlton-Yarborough only joined last May.
Both were soon notified there was a DNA match with another person at a level of about 28%, which is about that of a first cousin, Carlton-Yarborough said.

During a recent meeting, the two siblings pored over photographs of their biological family.

“I feel so blessed each and every day that I have found my sister and her family,’’ Carlton-Yarborough said. “I look forward to this new chapter in my life.”

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