The Story of Finding My Bio Brother & Bio Dad

I have debated on sharing this story because it's a very personal one. It also affects a lot of people in my life as well as my bio dad's and half-brother's lives as well. But with their blessing, I want to share because not only do I want to document such an important event in my life, I also think it could help others who may be going through a similar experience. So sit back and relax... an epic story is coming your way.


Once upon a time...

 The day I was born

At the age of 10 years old, home sick from school, my mom told me the story of how I was conceived. My dad had a low sperm count and the OBGYN told my parents it was not likely they would have a child. My parents, especially my mom, wanted children so badly. In 1984 Reproductive Medicine was a brand new specialty and in my little town, these were truly the pioneer days for alternative conception. Her physician suggested artificial insemination. My mom recalls writing down a description of what she wanted the donor to look like (basically she described my dad) and they then found a man who closely met what my parents were looking for. When my mom came in for the procedure, she says the nurse told her that the sperm donor was "very handsome" and was going to the local university. And that's it. My mom says she immediately knew it worked. She felt extreme happiness. Nine months later, I was born. I had lots of crazy, dark hair and my skin was also very dark. My mom was concerned I might not look like my parents after all! But in time, I gradually have grown to look very much like my mom (spoiler alert! I inherited quite a few of my bio dad's characteristics as well!)



My Grandma Harris
Three months later my parents got a huge surprise! While enjoying their beautiful little miracle (AKA me), another miraculous thing happened: my mom was pregnant again! Although my dad had a small number of swimmers, one of them found their way into my mom's egg and boom! Prego city! So my half-brother, Dusty, was born 18 days before my first birthday!

My Grandma Harris' mom, my Great Grandma Alice


Grandpa Tucker, 1995

Obviously hearing this news from my mom was tremendous. The main feeling I had was... gratitude. I felt like the most wanted child in the world. Even though I was daddy's little girl and I love that man as my true dad, I wasn't entirely surprised. I feel like I somehow knew. I always felt different. My brother is my dad's mini-me and he and I have very few similarities.  When my mom told me, she wanted to know when/how to tell my brother. Initially I said we should wait a year but then I couldn't keep it from him. I was a little worried about how he would take it. I mostly feared talking to my dad about it. I didn't want him to think that I would feel differently towards him. It changed nothing about how I felt about him. Once I told Dusty, he felt it necessary to talk to our dad about it (side note-my parents divorced when I was 4. My mom got together with my step-dad when I was 5 {they are still together}). My dad did struggle with talking to me about it. He wanted me to know that he never has thought of me as another's daughter and that he believed I could still be his biological child. To this day I know and feel this to be true. I am Gerald Tucker's daughter. 


My Tucker cousins, DJ & Dawn (my baby brother, Dusty, in our Grandma's lap), 1988
Grandma Tucker, 2000

Although this information didn't really change anything (my family was still very much my family) I did start to wonder about my bio dad (as I like to call him). I also started to wonder if I had more siblings. In 7th grade I learned about genes, both dominant and recessive alleles, in biology. It was on this day when I knew my dad was not my biological father. I have brown eyes. Both my parents have blue. Thus began my search for a brown-eyed man.




Growing up as an AI kid

No, not artificial intelligence :) I've always been a really transparent person. I didn't broadcast this news but I didn't hide it. In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was making headlines in the 90's. When I would share my story, I had a few comments of being a "test tube baby." Using humor as a comeback, I would generally correct them and say, "No, I'm a turkey baster baby, get your science right." It didn't define my identity but it was something I thought about often. Once I began dating as a teenager, I always considered, could this guy be my brother? Because I REALLY hope not! Any guy with brown eyes and dark hair I scrutinized in order to rule out any relation. 
My Grandma Ground, 1986

My mom knew that I was curious about my bio dad. She asked her doctor if there was any way of finding out information about him. He had told her no. When I was a freshman in college I actually wrote an argumentative paper regarding the laws surrounding Artificial Insemination. It was a really good experience for me to learn the formal laws regarding this process. In the state of Idaho, there is no legal way to find out anything about your birth parent via donation. So I had hit a dead end. Around the same time my mom heard about a site called DonorSiblingRegistry.com from watching Oprah. She encouraged me to sign up and put my info out there and see if I could find anything.That was a dead end too. 


My Grandpa Harris, 1989
For awhile I didn't actively do anything about it. Then a few years ago I found out about a DNA site called 23andme. I was very curious. My initial thought was more of wanting to know where I come from. I had flashbacks to 6th grade where we were learning about the Medieval era and were given an assignment of finding out our heritage and making a family crest or coat of arms (by the way, if there are any elementary school teachers reading this, I found this assignment to be VERY traumatizing. I did have a sweet teacher though and she told me if I didn't know that I could just make it up. So that's what I did. But it made me feel like a total outsider.). The prospect of finding out my ancestry was very exciting. I began to look more into it and made the decision to purchase a kit.

I Have a Half-Brother! 

I waited 6 long weeks to get the email telling me my DNA was ready for me to view. I happened to get the email at work and, like Christmas morning, I COULD NOT WAIT to log in to my account. When I logged in I got a notification asking me if I was sure I wanted to see my results. I had to acknowledge that I was going to receive information about my DNA relatives. I remember thinking, do I REALLY want to know? But that lasted about 0.2 seconds and I quickly clicked that I agreed. I was then taken to the home page and the page offered tutorials on how to read the information. I went through the genetic testing info and then the ancestry page and finally, the DNA relatives section. When the page loaded, right at the top, was a man who 23andme claimed was my half-brother. At first I thought it was part of the tutorial, as in, this is what your page could look like. So I refreshed and looked again and he was still there, at the top of the list of relatives. I clicked on his profile and he had posted his name and picture (there are many anonymous relatives) and after staring at his photo for a long, long time, it finally sunk in that this guy was my brother! I didn't notice any striking resembling features. He has dark hair, like me, but otherwise the only thing else that seemed like me was, as odd as it sounds, our teeth! 

My Marler Family, 1992
From there I hemmed and hawed about sending him a message. My instincts were to do it because I thought, maybe he is looking for me too? Typing that message was weird. "Um hi, it looks like I'm your sister?!" That's not what I wrote but that was essentially the jist. And then I waited. A week went by. A whole freaking week. Then I had the bright idea to see if I could find him on Facebook (no idea why it took me a week to think of that!). And I found him on there. And guess what? He lives in the next city! WHAAAAAAA?????? He had a wife and two adorable children and just looked so... familiar. So I sent him another message, thinking maybe he doesn't check 23andme often, if at all. And late that evening, I got a response! He confirmed with his parents and yep, he was conceived via AI as well, 2 years before me. He grew up in this area most of his life. We have one mutual person we know. We never met in 25 ish years of living within 20 miles of each other. Crazy.


My family 1992
We immediately started sending messages, getting to know one another better. This happened in November and between the shocking news and the holidays we just kept to sending messages back and forth. And then I suggested we meet. We decided on a coffee shop, as it was now January. I got there a bit early (which is normally my jam, especially when excited), he arrived on time. I waited in the coffee shop (to stay warm) and watched the door. When he walked in I just knew. Granted I had seen pictures but the way he walked, his smile, all of it was just so flippin' familiar! The only surprise? He's a lot taller than I expected him to be. I mean, I'm tallish for a woman so I figured he would be a bit tall but not that tall! We were both nervous and a little anxious. But once we got our drinks, we found seats and just starting talking. We spent about 3 hours getting to know one another and it was just so comfortable. My mom had really wanted a picture so we took a selfie outside the coffee shop. It's still crazy to me how similar his mannerisms are to mine. And the cadence of his voice... we definitely share DNA :)

After that we scheduled a meet up with our spouses. And then the next time we got together I got to meet my niece and nephew! I'm an aunt already to my step-sister's daughter, which is so special to me. Regardless of blood relation, my niece is my niece. But meeting my biological niece and nephew was really special, too. They were a little shy at first but quickly warmed up to me. I'm sure it's in my head but I felt like they knew. And they very quickly took to playing with me and I could tell they were comfortable. 

Do You Want Help Finding Your Biological Father?

My new brother happened to have a bit more information that his parents shared. The nurse that inseminated his mom said that our dad's major was pre-med (in addition to what was shared with my mom), that he went to the local university and is very handsome (apparently my dad is some sort of stud, eh?). So I did a little research trying to see if there were yearbooks at the university at the time. I guessed he would have been between 18-25 during 1982-1985 and that he might look like my new brother. Turns out, they didn't do yearbooks, so that was yet another dead end. At the time, only 3rd and 4th cousins were on 23andme on my paternal side so I didn't think much of reaching out to them. My profile did include information about my being conceived via AI and that I did wonder who my bio dad is. Fast forward to last year, I received an email from a 4th cousin, who asked if I wanted help finding my bio dad. To be honest, I figured it wouldn't amount to anything so I didn't reply. Then in April of this year I got another email, from a 3rd cousin, asking me if I wanted help finding my bio dad. I decided to take her up on it and gave her the information I had. While I was at it, I responded to the 4th cousin who has emailed previously and found a 2nd cousin who had popped up on my list. I thought, whoa! This lady could be my dad's cousin! Surely she will know something! 
The Harris family, 1999

Within 24 hours my second cousin had responded to me. She didn't know that part of her family well so she reached out to another cousin to see if she could find out anything. She emailed back and told me that her aunt had 3 boys and one of those boys had 3 boys, one of whom is now a doctor on the east coast. She believed that he might be my biological father. She gave me his name and from there I didn't hesitate in finding him on Facebook! 

I started to look at (read: stalk) his Facebook account. I looked at every.single.photo and then all of his friends and posts. I wanted to learn everything I could. I scrutinized every photo to try to see me in this man's face. I looked at the comments from others and determined who his brother (maybe my uncle?) was as well as nieces and nephews. I really felt like it could be him but maybe it was wishful thinking. One of the cousins who offered to help is very into genealogy. I provided him with the information from my second cousin and he began to search. He found this man's resume as well as many published journal articles. I, too, have recently published a journal article. We both have careers in the medical field. It seemed too much of a coincidence! Regardless of whether or not he was my biological father he is definitely related to me and we have several similarities. 

The next week my husband and I invited my new half-brother and his family over for dinner. I shared what I had learned and wondered their thoughts. My half-brother was a bit skeptical, thinking he didn't look as much like us as he thought he would being our bio dad. He wasn't opposed to me reaching out though and told me to let him know if I decided to. His wife and my mom had even offered to reach out to him on our behalf, which is very kind. 


The First Conversation with My Bio Dad

On my parents' wedding day, 1998

After a few more days of consideration, I decided to just go for it. I really wasn't sure what to write but I figured to just be myself. I started by telling him why I was contacting him and asked him if he donated. I then told him about myself and the similarities I had discovered. I finished by telling him how grateful I am to him for donating (if he had indeed done so) and how much gratitude my family has for such a generous gift. I told him I knew the process was anonymous so if he did not want to respond I would understand. Then I hit send. And I waited. Another long week passed. Then I got a notification on Facebook that one of his relatives had liked one of my photos. Immediately I knew he had to have seen my message, told his family, and now they were stalking me back! A message didn't come that night. But the next afternoon I had a response. He explained that he doesn't check Facebook that often and apologized for the delayed response. Then he told me I had excellent sleuthing skills. I literally laughed out loud so hard reading that! It sounded EXACTLY like a response I would have. Being the cautious (read:  scared and disbelieving) gal I am, I wrote back and had to clarify that my sleuthing skills did indeed come to the correct conclusion. He confirmed that they did. Then he offered his phone number and a time to chat on the phone. OH.MY.GAWD!!! I had found my brown-eyed man! 

So in about an hour or so, I called him. My bio dad (!!!!). Immediately I could tell he was excited. He told me he had so many questions. I knew he was happy to hear from me, which made all of the nerves and butterflies disappear. We spoke for awhile, him answering every question and I answering his. When we got off the phone we began exchanging pictures and asking more questions and basically stayed in communication the rest of the day as well as many of the days that followed. I told my half-brother about it all and he was excited my investigation had led us to the right place! I was truly shocked, elated, relieved, excited, and so many other emotions that are hard to even pinpoint. Never in my life had something like this happened. There is no rule book to tell you how to manage this type of life event.  
My (step) Dad, Ron, and my Grandpa Ground, 2001

All You Need is Love

I never could have imagined the responses that I have received from my bio brother and dad. Yet, when I debated reaching out, the major feeling or thought I had was, if these men are related to me, isn't it likely they would respond the way I would respond? And it was that thought that pushed me forward. And I'm so glad because I was right. Their responses have been full of curiosity, acceptance, and love, which is how I would like to think I have processed this from the very beginning. 

It has now been 6 months since I found my bio dad and nearly 3 years since I found my bio bro. My bio dad visited shortly after and we spent most of the weekend together. I just got back from visiting him back East. All of these encounters have meant so much to me. We are still navigating it all. Neither of them had to respond to me. Neither of them needed to keep in touch with me. Yet, it has been really natural and comfortable for us to do so. These relationships are choices we are making. I have no idea what the future holds but I imagine these two men will be a part of it in some way. At least I hope so. 



With my Dad, Ron, on my wedding day, 2014

Family is complex. This has been a literal mind f*ck for me. I've been lucky enough to be born into a family who loves me. That family includes a mom and a dad and their families.  My maternal grandparents are divorced so I got even more family. Then my parents divorced and my mom brought this amazing man into my life who has been another dad to me since I was 5 (whom I could write a whole blog post for all of the amazing things he has done for me! He went to to every choir concert, taught me how to drive stick-shift, comforted me through all of my break ups, walked me down the aisle, is best friends with my husband... I hit the JACKPOT when it comes to step-dads. And for me, there is no step. He IS my dad.) He came with his daughter who I get to call my sister. And with both of them came my step-family, who has always shown me so much love. Most recently I now have my bio paternal family that I am getting to know. Guys, at one point I had 11 grandparents (13 if we count my bio dad's parents who were both alive at that time)! I love them all, especially the ones that have always made it a point to be a part of my life. I truly feel my family is THE definition of a blended family. It can be confusing, sure. And jealousy is bound to happen. But the thing to focus on is all of the LOVE. There is just so much of it. All of these people are a part of me and I am a part of them. It's so beautiful. Thank you to everyone who has been supportive and kind during this huge life event. It means so very much to me. 


I am the luckiest girl in the world! 

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Stacy. I am happy that this turned out the way you had dreamed. I enjoyed hearing of the similarities. I can tell your bio dad and family will continue to be in touch. I hope there isn't too much jealousy happening. Life is good!

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    2. Thank you, Aunt Kathy! I appreciate that very much! I think this is all such an adjustment for all involved and things will get easier with time. We get protective of the ones we love! But there is PLENTY of love to spread around :) Life is fantastic!

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  2. YOU are one of the world's greatest LOVE GIFTS...I can ONLY IMAGINE all the added JOY you have brought to these new finds. THANK YOU for sharing your story! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

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    Replies
    1. Thank YOU! Being surrounded by so many loving family members and friends has helped me to give and share love freely. I am so lucky!!! ❤

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    2. We are fortunate to have you in our family.

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    3. Thank you! I am so fortunate to have such great Aunts like both of you!

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