By Guest Blogger Dan Barrett
Being adopted has always been my normal. My parents blessed me with a wonderful life, built me into the man/father I am, and adopted a younger brother, Billy, who has been the best a guy could ask for. My parents had always supported any effort I may have wanted to make to find my birth parents, but I was good – I had my family.
My closed adoption in New York didn’t make finding info any easier if I had tried. The little info I knew about my birth parents was that they were in college, unmarried, I was of Italian and Welsh decent, and they knew they couldn’t give me the life they wanted for their child. They chose life and trusted God to find me the perfect family. Mission accomplished.
As time passed, I got older, started a family and over the past year began really thinking about what my birth parents look like and what my family health history might be (for me and my sons). My wife, Marybeth, spurred a lot of this as she got me watching the show “Long Lost Family.” It got us thinking “what if my birth parents were out there and looking for me?” Marybeth ordered a DNA kit from Ancestry.com many months ago and it sat in my drawer untouched.
There were many thoughts that went through my head – Did my parents stay together? What if they don’t want to meet me? Do I have half or full siblings? I don’t want to disrupt their lives. So I waited, but as my 50th Birthday approached in January, I got the courage to send in my spit. I sent it off figuring I’d confirm my ethnicity, find out some health info and who knows what else.
Little did I know, I had much more in store!
The week after my birthday, the results came back. It not only verified my Italian/Welsh ethnicity, but it also gave me over 300 potential relatives ranging from 2nd-8th cousins. We looked at the info and decided to send a direct message to the two who appeared to be most likely to be 2nd cousins. A man named Dennis was the most active of the two, having been on his Ancestry page the week before and had several thousand in his family tree. I sent Dennis a note giving him a brief description of my situation and what I knew about my adoption. When I got home from work the next day, my wife tells me Dennis sent a note back saying he would be happy to do some digging. No sooner had I read this when I saw another email from him:
“Dear Dan, As promised, I reached out to some family members and have some reliable, important information for you regarding your adoption. Your birth parents are alive and anxious to begin a conversation with you.”
I was blown away. Without hesitation, I sent him my contact info. I immediately called my adoptive parents, who were super excited for me. I also texted my brother (who was ironically coming to Winston-Salem on Friday to visit us) and told him that I had big news to share. As I told my parents about the email, I said, “Based on his email, I think they are together and who knows what that means.” My mom told me that for 50 years she has prayed for them on every one of my birthdays that they would know I was taken care of, had a good life and turned out pretty good.
I shared the exciting news with my brother Billy when he arrived in town, and we deducted I very well could have full blood brothers or sisters.
At dinner, we gathered with some of our dear our friends and shared the story. No sooner had I finished talking, and my phone rings. The number is from Meadville, PA! My heart jumped. I briefly hesitated before my wife yelled, “Answer it!” I walked away from the tear-filled room, answered the call and said, “This is Dan.” I hear a woman’s voice that says, “Hi Dan, this is Kathy Eves, I’m your mother.”
Within 48 hrs of my initial note to Dennis, I found out my birth parents are alive and open to connecting, and now I hear the woman who brought me into the world for the first time! And to have my brother with me was part of His plan.
We immediately got to chatting as she told me she has thought about me every day for 50 years, wants to hear all about my life and more. I told my story first and now was about to find out theirs. They (Kathy and Scott) were in college and knew she couldn’t abort me. They trusted God to find me a family that would take care of me and give me the life they weren’t capable of at that time. I assured her that I had a blessed life and couldn’t have been raised by two more wonderful, caring people.
We talked about them being athletic and that being passed on; how they got married 18 months after having me and then she says, “Dan, you have three sisters … and they are all blonde!” Holy Crap- I HAVE 3 SISTERS (Lisa-48, Adrian-40 & Lindsay-38)!! “and Dan, you have 8 nephews and nieces.” I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. I asked how the sisters were handling everything and she said they were on Facebook stalking me and dying to meet the big brother they always wanted.
“But Dan, they found out about you an hour ago … For 50 years you’ve been a secret.” WOAH!! She had wanted to look for me so many times, but like with me, life, the closed adoption records, or other things, everything got in the way. I believe it just wasn’t on His time yet until now for us to connect.
She shared some important health info – she has beaten two forms of cancer and my dad has Dementia that came on a few years ago. He needs some help, but has good and bad days. As we wrapped up the call, we agreed to send pictures and she asked if we wanted to meet. I definitely did, but as I told her, “This is a lot to take in. I have a kitchen full of people drinking my bourbon and dying to hear what is going on!” I told her we would connect real soon on next steps.
Facebook was fairly active that night as we looked for and shared pictures. Thankfully, Adrian (middle sister) direct messaged me how excited they were and that if we were going to meet we should try sooner than later while dad still has his personality and can make some memories. So I slept on that thinking how can we pull this off soon.
Saturday morning I shared the amazing news with my adoptive parents. They were ecstatic, as they always wanted to know what became of my birth parents after they had me. My dad then told me, “No matter what, you need to get up there to meet them ASAP” – what a blessing he gave me.
My wife and I discussed our next month of weekends and that we could go at any time … including now. So from a note on Wednesday the 10th to finding out parents are alive and want to connect on the 11th to a call with them on the 12th we were heading up north on Sunday the 14th. By 2:30pm Sunday, I was meeting and hugging my birth parents, sisters, nieces and nephews. They are all amazing!!!
We hung out all afternoon/evening Sunday and until midafternoon Monday, simply amazed at what was happening and that it was real. The cousins all got along and had a blast and there wasn’t one moment where it seemed like a bad idea. It was a 24 hour lovefest & one of the most amazing experiences of my life, next to my wedding and birth of our boys.
We have been in constant communication – texts, Facetime, calls. Both my moms have connected on the phone and are BFFs already (amazing how similar they both are) and both sets of parents plan on meeting in early April. We are going back up the end of this month to see everyone again and spend some real time catching up.
Lots to deal with as we figure out the future for spending time together, dealing with Dementia/Alzheimers, and learning more about the last 50 years, but we all know God put us together now for a reason and we’re all excited to see where this journey takes us.