How it started: I was 6 years old when my stepdad adopted me, and my two older siblings. I am not your typical DNA surprise person in that I always knew I had a biological father out there. My siblings being older than I am remember our dad, but I had no memory of him. I was told my entire life that my biological father left us and did not want us. We were led to believe that he did not provide any financial support and did not want to see us. As an adult, I was told my biological father passed away. The details of his passing were not clear, but the fact was he was gone. I had always longed to find my dad; I just was not sure how. He was a long-haul truck driver so when I would pass by semi-trucks I would look for his name on the door, or at the person driving, wondering if we were long lost father and daughter. After my children were mostly grown, I began searching for him in a more serious manner. There is a website “Find a grave,” that I would search for my dad on. Having little to no information about him, I could never locate his resting place.
Fast forward to DNA testing and the void I had always had in my life, I decided to take a DNA test. I had hopes of connecting to a relative that could tell me anything about my biological father. On my birthday, my husband and I were enjoying a vacation when I got an email from a connection via Ancestry. We emailed back and forth a few times before she told me she was my half-sister; we have the same dad. After a bit of shock wore off, I told her I understood our dad had passed but how happy I was she found me. In her next email she tells me our dad is very much alive, and I have a half-brother as well. It is this moment right here, anyone who has ever had an experience close to mine, can feel everything I felt in that moment. For me, the shock was happy and something I wanted for so long, but still life changing. Nothing in your life after this is ever the same.
As a Certified Life Coach, I am here to help those who have experienced this kind of life altering experience. For some it is good, for some not so good, but for everyone it is life changing.
After “meeting” my bio dad, bonus mom and half-sister via video chats, and many, many emails, in September 2019 my husband and I traveled to British Columbia to meet them all in person. (To be clear, I use the term half-sister for clarification, she is my sister, and my brother is my brother.) I was so NERVOUS! If I am honest, I was not fun to travel with that day, the nerves got the best of me. We landed in Canada, rented a car, and had to take a ferry where we were meeting my family. After dropping our things off at our hotel, we were off to my sisters to “meet” everyone. All the advice and comments I received from everyone was running through my mind; “make sure to take video and photos, don’t cry, how can you not cry, do you think you’ll cry?” “What are you going to say?”
I am happy to report, no one cried. My bonus Mom greeted us as we drove up the street and broke the ice in the most amazing way. After the first few apprehensive moments everything felt okay. There was no immediate comfort, but I think we all felt good to be together. We ordered pizza, drank some wine, talked, and took some photos. It was the most amazing, most surreal thing I have ever experienced. I am grateful I just rolled with it and did not try and have some standard for photos and videos. It felt good and natural, even though it was so unreal. I was blessed to have a few days with my family. I was surprised by my brother and his wife being there. He was hesitant at first to come and meet us, but I am forever grateful he and his wife were there.
Our days together were spent eating, drinking and being merry, while exploring the Canadian countryside. I think it took a bit of time for all of this to set in, but it felt so good to be there with my people. I cried when I left but my heart was full.
Plans had been made to return for my sister’s wedding in May 2020, but as we all know, the world shut down. We kept an eye on the border opening and my sweet sister pushed her wedding out for an entire year! Sadly, the border did not open so 1 year and 1 month later, my sister married her love. Things were set up to watch via video, it was not the same as being there, but I was so happy for my sister and her love, and so grateful to be included in any way. The minute my sister asked if I was watching, I lost it, I cried and I cried. It is funny how you can love someone so much that you recently met.
At this point in my story everyone asks, “Did you tell your mom? What did she say?” After finding my dad and speaking to my raised siblings, we decided not to tell our mom. She suffers from some dementia, and we felt for her overall health not to share this with her. Sometimes I feel like this was the easy way out but there has been enough discontent in my life around this circumstance, I’m going to count this as a blessing.
Sometimes I speak to my dad and bonus mom the most often, sometimes my sister and sometimes my sister-in-law. I am grateful to have a relationship with each of them. In April 2022, my brother invited us to Mexico with him. I would not say I had time for this vacation but I sure as hell went. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know my brother and his wife better, and I do feel a bit closer to them now.
Shane and I were able to go back to Canada in September, 2022, three years after our first visit. It was more relaxed than the first visit but there was still some apprehension. I’m not sure you can make up 50 plus years of not knowing your genetic family. I met my nephew and his wife and got to visit the farm stand they own and operate. We played many games of dominoes, (my dad’s favorite game), we played music, he sang his favorite country songs and I learned how sneaky he is! We tasted wine and drove along the Canadian/U.S. border. Going home is always bittersweet, but let’s face it that is where my dog lives.
To say I am blessed with these relationships in an understatement. My dad turned 81 in December; I am so grateful to have found him alive. He is unable to travel to me, but I will never miss an opportunity to go see him, and the rest of my family. I do not have the memories my siblings do with our dad, but I will take what I can get.
Me, about age 3,
(This the last picture
my dad ever got of me).
My Dad and his truck.
Me and my siblings!