I was out with my 79 year old dad one night a few months ago, and he introduced me as “the youngest of my five children.” There are only four of us kids. I chalked it up to old age and didn’t give it another thought. Until Dad turns to me out of the blue a little while later and says, “I took an at home DNA test and it looks like you may have another brother.” My mouth dropping to the floor does not even begin to describe the dizzying effect this new information had on me. He told me his name and said, “Look him up, he’s on Facebook.” With trembling hands, I typed in a name new and foreign to me. Chris … Chris. Staring back at me was a kind-faced man, smiling in a selfie with his wife.
My eyes searched his face, looking at his eyes, smile, chin … in that moment, there was very little doubt I was staring at the face of my father’s first born child that, until quite recently, he had no idea about. Another brother. Chris.
At Home DNA Brings Chris to Us
Adopted as a newborn baby, my brother Chris lived a happy life in Opelousas, living less than a mile away from me for some time even, and eventually settling in Baton Rouge. Never really set on finding his birth parents, he was gifted an at home DNA test from his in-laws for his 51st birthday. He tells me he only expected to learn more about his heritage, never imagining at his age someone would want to meet this new family member or that even close family members would also have an account on the same DNA provider.
Never imagined his birth father not only was alive and well, but a mere 65 miles away … tending his garden, watching his grandson’s soccer games, happily splitting a few dozens raw oysters with one of his daughters. And that they both had accounts on Ancestry.com.
Meet Your New Uncle
Chris entered my life with smiles, home-made cookies from his wife (my new sister-in-law), and magic tricks for his new tribe of nieces and nephews. My mother hosted a wonderful lunch where we all exchanged preferences in music, food, our backgrounds …
I felt an immediate connection to Chris. Two days later, I drove to his house for Taco Tuesday and broke out in tears mid-guacamole, choked up over the beauty and wonder of it all. I was unable to keep it together any longer, overwhelmed with this new reality and gift of another sibling. We marveled in the wonder of it all, still in shock that here we are sitting together. I brought old photo albums of my, I mean our, Dad to share with Chris. Conversations flip flop between answering questions about the entirety of lives until we met to casual conversations about day-to-day life.
The newness has still yet to wear off, and, at the same time, I am starting to learn his mannerisms, like the way he he puts his hand under his chin when he’s thinking. Or his South Louisiana accent rolling and relaxed, so different from my own New York-esq New Orleans drawl. Chris is almost like this new baby who I want to show off to the world. Look at my new big brother! I have a new brother! Isn’t he wonderful? He’s clever. And kind. And funny. And he’s here to stay. Neither of us knowing at first, will this be a single meet and greet and politely comment on each other’s pictures? We are slowly weaving into each other’s lives, connecting and bonding with each passing month. My children are young enough that they quickly accepted “You have a new Uncle, we just didn’t know about him until recently. Isn’t he wonderful?” They adore their new Uncle. They are so lucky. We are all so lucky.