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Man reunited with daughter after two years

MYRTLE CREEK — Bryan Thouvenel's daughter only remembered that he played guitar.

They had been apart nearly two years when Thouvenel, thanks to a tip from a friend, found his daughter and estranged ex-girlfriend at a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Spokane, Washington.

Now, a grant from nonprofit Time to Put Kids First is sending Thouvenel and his 5-year-old daughter, Harmony Rain Thouvenel, to Kauai, Hawaii.

"It's about building memories," Thouvenel, 41, said. "When I got her back...."

Thouvenel, a once-aspiring songwriter who had already lived rough and fathered two daughters before he was 30, said he was dragged by friends to a karaoke night at a bar in 2010. He met a girl there and sang to her The Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road."

Their two-year relationship brought a daughter whose middle name, Rain, also came from a song by The Beatles. But the relationship turned sour and, eventually, his ex-girlfriend took Harmony and headed north to Washington.

Thouvenel fell apart.

"Those memories, for me, they're painted on my heart," Thouvenel said. "To find out they weren't painted on hers — it was devastating."

They were in Washington somewhere, but for all intents and purposes they were off the map for two years. He searched with few results. However, he filed for custody at the Douglas County Courthouse and was eventually awarded custody in March 2015.

Then, while talking with his mother at a restaurant in Myrtle Creek, a friend phoned him to say he saw Harmony at a Salvation Army site in Spokane. His mother, Cindy Lorenz, jumped toward the car.

"She's not in the best of health in the world, you know, but she drove for 10 hours straight until we got up there to the courthouse," Thouvenel said.

After getting a court order from a local court in Spokane, Thouvenel and Lorenz eventually brought Harmony and her mother to the courthouse where a judge ultimately put Harmony back in Thouvenel's custody. After the decision, a police officer told Thouvenel to wait on a bench outside the courtroom.

"I sat there and the next thing you know I've got my daughter coming out, walking by herself," Thouvenel said. "She's kind of looking around, and I said her name once. She kind of looked at me funny and I said 'Harmony, it's daddy.' Her eyes just kind of lit up."

Thouvenel used pictures on his cell phone to refresh her memory, and Harmony hugged him while he fought back tears. Unconvinced that the two-year ordeal was over, Thouvenel's oldest daughter told him to stop joking when he announced Harmony was coming home.

"It made it all worth it, you know?" he said. "It was two years I fought through hell just to be a part of my daughter's life and she was back in my life."

At first, Harmony needed constant reminding that Thouvenel wasn't going anywhere. During a trip to the coast some weeks after returning to Oregon, she waited outside the door even when Thouvenel just went to the bathroom.

Galvanized by his own experiences trying to get Harmony back, Thouvenel became involved in organizations like The Pacific Northwest Father's Rights Movement.

He eventually found Washington-based nonprofit Time to Put Kids First, who is funding Thouvenel and his daughter on their trip to Hawaii. The two will leave in May and Thouvenel said he is planning a lot of beach time, relaxation and bonding time.

"For two years she didn't have any memories with me so they decided it would be a nice idea to send us over to Hawaii for a retreat," Thouvenel said. "It would be this huge memory that she would actually remember. Regardless of whatever happens in the future, she will always have this one memory with dad."

In this photo taken Saturday April 2, 2016, Bryan Thouvenel gives his daughter Harmony Thouvenel, 5, a kiss while standing for a portrait in front of their home in Myrtle Creek, Ore. They had been apart nearly two years when Thouvenel, thanks to a tip from a friend, found his daughter and estranged ex-girlfriend at a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Spokane, Wash. (Katie Alaimo/The News-Review via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT