You Never Know What Life Will Bring: A DNA story

Dear Friends:

I have a fascinating story to share, but I’m going to let my guest writer do the talking here!  I am honored that “Matt”, a close relative, agreed to tell his story.   The names are changed to protect privacy, and identities are blotted out in accompanying photos.  When I became estranged from a younger sibling, I shared something in common with Matt, who  also became estranged from a younger sibling.  At least I had two other sisters with whom I remain close, but Matt had no other siblings.  I told him that sometimes we have to let go, even if it is our own blood, especially when the relationship turns toxic and does not serve our higher good.  Matt listened closely and I knew he was torn about the sour turn of events.  He tried hard to repair the rupture, but things were not going smoothly, and he resigned himself to the fact that a reconciliation was not in the cards for the time being.  Around that time, Matt decided to get a DNA testing and the story gets riveting from there on out.

Matt’s wife called me one day to give me some exciting news.  Heaven had closed one door, but opened another. You see, Matt found out he had a brother he never knew he had.   I don’t know about you, but it seems as if I am hearing about these kind of discoveries more and more from friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and strangers.  Especially in light of the fact that DNA testing is becoming more widespread and common.

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Where’s my big brother?

I’ll let Matt pick it up from here:

GUEST POST

In July of 1980, I was born in San Francisco, CA, to a working class couple of Irish and Italian descent. I attended Catholic schools, played sports and had a happy childhood.  In 1989, a younger brother was born. Unfortunately, due to the 9-year age difference, we never grew close.  We were just too far apart in age and our interests were not the same.

To find a long lost brother can be a God-send

My mother is half Irish and half Italian. She has light brown hair, fair skin, freckles and blue eyes. My Italian-American father is olive complected with dark hair and brown eyes. Most of my cousins are fair skinned with blonde hair.  Then there is me:  I have black hair, brown eyes, and a much darker complexion than any of my family members. Wherever I go, people think I am Latino, Indian, or Arabic.  I look nothing like my family so I always wondered why I was so different looking and what weird mix of recessed genes came together in my DNA.  With the advent of DNA testing, I could choose to get some insight into my genetic makeup; so two years ago I ordered a DNA testing kit.

(Side note: the San Francisco neighborhood that Matt grew up in.  Beautiful, isn’t it?)

Over the next few weeks, I received notifications that the ancestry site had linked my DNA profile with others they judged to be 2nd, 3rd or 4th cousins.  I had kept my profile open to other paying members who were matched as a relative, but I never reached out to any distant cousins.  After a month, I received an email from another site member that was short and cryptic:

“Hello, my name is Jed and I’ve been matched up with you as being very closely related.  If you have any questions as to why that is, I have the answers if you are open to them. We should talk.”

That was it and I was suspicious.  I admit I am not a very trusting person and this seemed like a sales pitch or some sort of scam. Maybe my long lost relative was the deposed former king of Nigeria? Maybe he’s stranded and needs a wire transfer, and in exchange he’ll turn the throne over to me? 😉

I checked in with my father who thought it could be a distant cousin from his side and counseled me to ‘handle it as you see fit.’  So I handled it as I saw fit:  I ignored it.

The next day I received another email that was different and immediately got my attention:

“Matt, I realized my last message looked like phishing, so I thought I’d clarify. My name is Jed and I was born in San Francisco in 1970 and was adopted that same year. I’m not sure whether or not you are aware, but I reached out to your family and my birth mother about five years ago.  You and I are brothers (or half brothers if you prefer).  I’ve been told that my birth mother has deep feelings about this situation, so I have respected her privacy and do not want to cause any distress to her.  I  was excited to know that I have siblings and it is important for me to let you know that my door is open to you. I think you’ll be surprised at some of the similarities that we share in life even though we were raised separately. It would be great if we could talk so I can fill you in on the details.”

Imagine my shock and surprise, so I called my father and asked, “Hey Dad, do I have a long lost brother named Jed that was given up for adoption ten years before I was born?”  The response was the confirmation I needed as Dad paused, stuttered and stammered and hung up the phone saying he would call back.

I decided to call my brother that same night, and the conversation lasted a couple of hours.  What I learned was amazing; not only did I have a big brother, a wonderful new sister-in-law, but I had three nieces!  Even though we had different fathers and were ten years apart, the similarities between us were astounding.

.  We both went to Catholic high schools in San Francisco

.  We both joined the United States Marine Corps as enlisted men

.  In the Marines, we both became non-commissioned officers and firearms instructors

.  After the Marines, we both entered law enforcement, became firearms and active shooter instructors in our respective agencies

.  We both have St. Michael tattoos (the patron saint of military and police)

.  We both drive Ford trucks and are amateur gunsmiths

.  We share a love for cooking and are the primary chefs in our families

.  Our oldest daughters share the same name and our youngest children share the same birthday.  Our middle daughters came very close to sharing the same name too.

.  We both left California and moved to Texas.  Jed moved there first and my family and I followed.  We live a four hour drive away from each other in the lone star state

.  We have the same taste in dogs

When Jed sent a photo of himself, he was wearing a shirt that I also own!  We decided to get our families together the next weekend.  We barbecued, enjoyed drinks by the firepit and our kids ran together through the house and yard as if they had known each other all their lives. It was a weekend filled with smiles and I was so happy.  How could I not be; I had found a brother.

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Matt, Jed and their kids: family day at the beach

The families get together

Matt and Jed, brothers forever

So there it is.  I have a big brother and it has truly been a gift from the Heavens to have found this new family.  I wish I had known them sooner, but I couldn’t be happier to know them now.   I GUESS YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT LIFE WILL BRING.

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Brotherly love

Thank you Matt for sharing your story.  For the sake of time and space, I’ve left out some of the details.  I’m sure readers would like to know about the circumstances that led to your older brother being adopted, and what reactions your parents had when you told them that you were going to pursue a relationship with your brother no matter what anyone thought.  Perhaps there will be part two! 

Matt, I remember thinking right away when all of this happened that there are no coincidences.  Heaven closed one door, but opened another and brought you a brand new brother!  Oh happy day.  Perhaps you and I will see our younger siblings again one day,  but until then,  we’ll leave it to Heaven and enjoy what is already in our lives!

“The best we can make of the past is to face it and move on. We can certainly learn from all that we have experienced, but we mustn’t let it hold us back from living here and now.  I will not get so bogged down in dealing with old wounds that I forget about new growth.”  – from COURAGE TO CHANGE, page 99

Love,

S.G.

19 thoughts on “You Never Know What Life Will Bring: A DNA story

    • I should probably do a part 2. Why the Mom gave the baby up, the drama in families and how Matt rose above it. I didn’t want this August edition to be overly long either. Matt was a real sweetheart in agreeing to write down his story and he even ran it by Jed. They are both in sensitive law enforcement jobs and so I tried to be careful. I know the photos are blotted out to an extreme degree but at least the reader gets a look, as limited as it may be, at these two brothers who found each other late in their lives. Matt’s family kept Jed’s existence from him, but with DNA testing these days, secrets are often bound to get out. Even Matt’s neighbor in Texas found out about a sister he didn’t have.

      Stranger than fiction is life.

      Thank you so much for reading, Janis!

      Love
      S.G.

      Like

    • Dear Dayna,

      I love real-life true stories that bring tears to the eyes, and I’m so moved that the story impacted you! I didn’t know your Mother was adopted and I’m sorry her birth family isn’t as responsive. People handle things so differently. Matt chose to embrace his brother, even though his parents would not. Matt is the winner, but his parents have to navigate their own way in this but they’ve had 50 years! One would think that it would be water under the bridge; afterall times have changed, and who cares that Matt’s mom had a baby when she was young! Life happens; no one is judging.

      Love,
      S.G.

      Like

    • Dear Suzanne,

      Yes there’s a bit more to the story but I wanted to focus on the aspect that created happy chills. I remember when it all happened, I was stunned and so happy for Matt. I knew he was feeling a lot of pain over the falling out with his younger brother. If I do a part two, that may address family dynamics that are stranger than fiction. An old friend commented here about her father having a secret second family over in Italy when he was stationed there WWII; and then there is the story of my new desert friend whose abusive alcoholic mother left the family, remarried, and shot the new abusive husband (through a door) five times. He survived. I’m telling you – you can’t make this up!

      I so appreciate your reading and commenting.

      Love,
      S.G.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, what a story! The similarities between the two brothers are astounding. You never know what life may bring you! I always say that you have to keep growing your consciousness and advancing your living to the day you die.

    Hard things come, losses occur, but one has to gently feel them, accept them, and move through them as consciousness is forever so one can never stay stuck in any event or situation. Thank you for sharing! Makes me wonder what new door I am meant to open!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Donna,

      As always, I so appreciate you reading and posting a comment. You are able to whip up a great deal of insight in a succinct way. Yes, I made a decision to focus on the positive, and not include for the time being the more dramatic details that involve a tsunami of emotions and family and societal dynamics.

      I’m glad this story has touched people. Already an old acquaintance has written a comment here to share how she found half siblings in Italy!

      Love,
      S.G.

      Like

  2. Wow Susan and Matt,
    I had same experience. We found half siblings in italy! Post WW 2, my father stationed there and another family was created. My brother emigrated in year 2000 and is a US citizen (our half sister remains in Tuscany) my brother and I have the same birthday!
    So much to discover and glad that Matt is open to it all. New world awaits! (Children do not ask to be born but they can make the most and best of a situation) Whatever the circumstance Matt’s mother had a reason, he was raised by a loving family and it got him to this point in time for this reason. enloy and God Bless you all.-Vivian

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Vivian,

      Thank you SO much for stopping by and reading and commenting. It’s been so long since I heard your story but you have an incredible story to tell as well. Were your siblings found through DNA research as well?

      Readers are asking for more details and perhaps I’ll need to write a Part 2. I didn’t want to make this piece overly long, but yes Jed was raised by loving people and is a wonderful human being, husband and father. I believe he went to the same high school that Suzette and I went to.

      Life is not only full of surprises, but it is full of gifts!

      Love,
      S.G.

      Like

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I have a friend who at the age of 50 discovered she has a sister just 14 months older who was given up for adoption. They have been making up for lost time. And, feel blessed by the discovery.

    Sent from my iPhone

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    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Cousin Mary Jo,

      Everywhere I turn confirms that someone knows someone who has discovered a sibling they never knew existed. I’m so glad your friend is getting to know her long lost sibling and making up for lost time. What a blessing! But not everyone considers a long lost sibling a blessing. I know a woman who refused to meet a half sister because she was a product of an affair that the father had. That situation came about due to DNA ancestry sites and research as well. Personally I would want to meet my blood but that’s me.

      Jed was very brave for reaching out to Matt and it’s had a very happy ending that is really a beginning!

      Love you,
      SG.

      Like

  4. Thanks for sharing Jed and Matt’s story, Susan! A new chapter of “love-of-family” opened up not only for Jed and his brother, but extended beyond, touching the lives of all the other family members along the way.

    I was born into a large family on both maternal and paternal sides, and our family tree is not without a relationship or two who have chosen to disconnect from the rest of us. It is an emotionally painful experience. Estrangement isn’t always permanent, however, and we can hope for reunification in the future.

    God bless you.

    Virginia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Virginia,

      You are my faithful friend and reader and I truly appreciate your support of my writing. Yet, more importantly you and I have shared values and appreciate large families. As you may know, my husband is one of 10; I am the oldest of 4 girls. When a painful estrangement happens in a family, it feels like more than a loss, it feels like a death. I was thrilled when Matt found his brother Jed, and the two families bonded so well and became close very quickly. It’s really an honor to share Matt’s story and I’m so glad he agreed to write it down for himself, for Jed, for his family and for this blog!

      Love you friend and God Bless You!
      S.G.

      Like

  5. This was an astounding story, and so filled with love and hope for the future. It was particularly great to read it in Matt’s own words. DNA reveals so many family secrets and previously unknown ancestry. I was especially amazed at the personal similarities – career, tattoos, etc. – that the brothers shared.
    I had always thought my Filipino ancestry was mixed with a large percentage of Spanish. In fact, the Spanish part is only 5% and I recently discovered that I am 66% Filipino and 29% Chinese! Never knew that! With the remaining teeny bits a mix of Spanish, and of all things, Basque. Wonderful post, Sue.
    Question: So was Matt’s genetic racial makeup the same as he originally thought?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Susan, I appreciate how the concept of “estranged” is very complicated.

    The hairs are rising on my arms as I continue to read this story. Yes, DNA testing is revealing many new relationships.

    Oooh, short and cryptic immediately arouses my spidey senses. “…the similarities between us were astounding.”

    Everything about this is amazing. The similarities blow me away. Almost as if they were twins.

    The quote from “Courage to Change” is empowering. Unfortunately, many of us have complicated or (almost) no relationship with certain family members. Beyond our control and complicated. I appreciate the story and the positive words to move forward.

    (An aside: I have been away a great deal the past few weeks, and then we are unplugged again for awhile, camping in September. I am delayed in reading and I want to devote my full concentration on your posts, Susan. I finish reading your stories, your gems, your wisdom and I am always a changed woman. In a good way. Thank you.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear E/E,

      I just loved your comment and always appreciate how you detect deeper levels and can relate to all the levels I write about. I think both you and Donna are superb at it, and especially at articulating it. I’ve come to accept that life is simply MESSY with a capital “M” and yet it’s all we have so we take the good with the “bad”. Speaking of “bad”, I spent hours and hours today trying to navigate the new block editor. I really want to write that part two to this story and I know readers are eager to hear more.

      It really is humbling to hear that a fellow experienced blogger like you takes time out to devote full concentration to my writings. I appreciate that more than you know; but I’m sure you know! A friend once said to me after reading one of my early blogs “I didn’t know you were so deep.” Ha ha, I didn’t know what to say. I really do ponder the mysteries of life and I take away lessons with each passing day and try to share those insights in my writings.

      I know you’ve been away having precious time with loved ones and friends (life on Vancouver Island is never dull) and I am so happy to hear you are getting away again, camping and unplugging.

      I always deeply appreciate you reading and commenting. It helps to keep me going. I’ll look forward to your next installments and being thrilled to the marrow by your equally wisdom-filled stories!

      Bless you,

      Susan Grace

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, Susan, I am hearing such a mixed bag on the Block Editor. I am looking at freshening up my site and playing with the Editor. I have my 2 granddaughters this week sleep overs and all sorts of activities. No true quiet time. Yet, real life is always my priority and I know you get this, Susan. I would love to hear the Part 2 to your story. Part 1 is very interesting and I found it discrete on the actual identities. I do appreciate you sharing the insights. You write as if you allow the reader to build their own conclusions, too. You have a gift for this.

        As far as a seasoned blogger. I just hit the 2 year mark and I sometimes post only once a month. I often feel like a newbie. 🙂Only if I have focused time and something I want to share. Similar to you. I think we both can feel how we are kindred spirits.

        My husband has the two girls with an activity right now so I can have a bit of quiet to think/type. I will be taking them on a bike ride in the neighbourhood in a few minutes. Such a privilege to have this time. We feel things will significantly change when they go back to school next week.

        Thank you for sharing your gems and your wisdom. You always make a difference. xx ❤️

        Like

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