Searching Backwards

I have a brother.

A half-brother, actually, from my father’s first marriage. I knew him when I was little but the last time I saw him was at my father’s funeral. I was nineteen.

I’ve been wondering about him lately. I remember he was closer in age to my mom than to my sister and I (my parents had twenty years difference in their ages). I remember he had brown curly hair but was balding. He had three kids and was married to a tall woman named Barbara. They lived in the farmland of California. He taught math. I once rode a pony at their sprawling ranch-style house. He gave me my first kitten. I named it Dumbo. He and our dad weren’t particularly close and my child’s mind recalls stunted conversations with awkward pauses during infrequent visits.

It’s weird to think that there is this person out there in the world sharing blood and DNA and yet I do not know him. The more I delve into healing my hurts around my dad, the more I think about finding him because I want to know my dad in a different context. I want someone outside of my immediate family to talk to about the man I called Dad because most days I’m not sure I knew that man at all.

So I’m mulling it over- finding my long lost half-brother- and feeling. . . well, feeling apprehensive and nervous. But it keeps coming up for me and so I know it’s something I need to pursue. Even if it falls flat. Even if he wants nothing to do with me. Even if he tells me things about our dad that I think I don’t want to know. Because I want to know. I need to. I do.


45 thoughts on “Searching Backwards

  1. I have a half-sister. She is about 30 years older than me, and I didn’t even know she existed til I was about 13. I always wanted to meet her. Up until then,I was the only girl, and once I found out there was a SISTER out there, I had all these images of girl days, etc.
    But, my dad had no way to get a hold of her, and he never talked about her, so she was always just a distant “What if?”

    Then, she got a hold of him a couple years ago, and he sent me along the info. Yeah, she wound up being really odd, really neurotic, and if I didn’t IMMEDIATELY answer an email (which i’m bad at with EVERYONE) I’d get another email like the next day stating something along the lines of “I understand that you never want to talk to me again. Have a nice life.” Um…wtf?? So, it eventually degraded into her telling me that all of my break-up issues and moving out, and all the hell i was going through was just a ploy to get money from the internet. (um…what?)

    So, yeah…the dream is sometimes better than the reality. I hope you find him, but be careful i guess. I know how you feel though.

  2. I would be the same way… I would just have to know. Way back when I started working through some of my issues I became obsessed with speaking to an aunt of mine who was my biological mom’s sister. I wanted to know how he treated my mother (who died when I was three) and if he was the same way before she died as after. I wanted to know if it was her death that drove him to the drink or if he drank before. If he was always so caustic, or was he once a warm and loving guy. I just had to know these things. It gave me a new perspective on my dad, but it could never erase the pain. Maybe someday.

  3. My opinion: Follow your feelings. At the very least, you connect briefly with a man that shares your father with you and, while you might learn nothing new, you at least stay true to your feelings and pursue a goal that means something to you.

  4. i agree with mighty hunter. follow your heart with this one. for some reason, you are feeling that you need to know more. you know, at this point and time, that you have access to this through your half-brother. i think that is a gift. it reminds me of “the locator” have you seen that show?

  5. My Dad has a…well, not sure what she would be. Sister of some sort. She was conceived by my grandma and a sailor before my grandpa came around (I know, scandal!!) and then put up for adoption. My Dad only found out about her last year, and we had a lot of debate about trying to find her…
    Ultimately, I always figure the other person might be wondering about you too and it will bother you more if you never reach out. You may get a hand slap, or you may get an incredible friendship. As long as your expectations aren’t pie-in-the-sky (which isn’t the way you seem to operate anyway), I say go for it!

  6. I have an uncle two years younger than me. My sperm donor’s half brother. Never knew my grandfather as he and my grandma divorced way before I was born. After he died, my uncle and his mom moved to Florida (my aunt still spoke to them). Now that I live in Florida I wonder about him. No one in my family still talks to him or even knows where exactly he is. I found him on the internet with a bunch of different addresses. Was really into calling him till I saw that. Seemed odd to have moved so much around the same few cities. Is that a bad sign? Plus, would he even want to hear from some ‘niece’ he’s never known? Heck, he might not know I exist. So, I dropped the ball on finding him. Maybe I’ll pick it back up someday, but I definitely think you should follow your gut instinct. I wish you luck on your search. I’m sure you’ll be braver than I have been!

  7. I think it’s so very exciting and scary to want to meet a half-brother you never knew all that well. So long as you’re prepared to learn more than you ever wanted to know … or learn nothing at all … about your father, I think it’s worth seeking him out. And remember, no matter how much preparation you think you’ve done, you’ll probably never be fully prepared for a reunion, should there be one.

  8. I have a half-sister that is two years older than me.

    There is a common denominator that no matter where they were raised, or how, that you ironically share certain things– and often relate. She is far more like me and my sibs, than her own half sibs. We were a huge comfort to her.

    I grew up with Dad, and she did not, but still she was like us. I always felt in her and my sameness, there was a full circle.

  9. I agree with Mighty Hunter- go with your heart on this one. This is obviously something that you need to do, and if you decide not to do it, “what if” is always going to be in the back of your mind.

    Who knows? You might end up connecting with your brother and it could turn out really great. I think the very least that could happen is that you’ll get some closure, and it’s worth it just for that, in my opinion.

  10. Do it. Without question, do it.

    I found my dad and met him for the first time in 25 years when I was about 27. He left after the divorce (long story short)and I just never knew him. He just disappeared. He worked off payrolls so he could get out of paying child support. And you know what it feels like to grow up sharing DNA with someone that you don’t even know, and it’s not your choice to not know.

    You may already know this, I don’t know, but I ended up learning through a former job that Social Security Administration has a letter forwarding” program under FOIA. It took me about a year to write something to someone I didn’t know, who apparently didn’t want to know me and it was a letter I didn’t even know if he would receive.

    He did. He called. I met him after 25 years of not knowing and beating myself up for not knowing or for being the person someone with shared DNA doesn’t want to know.

    It didn’t work out (long story short), but you know what? I’m so happy I tried, that I reached out, tried to find him, tried to have a relationship, etc. Because this time when he left my life, it was MY choice. It wasn’t made for me; I got to choose whether or not to forge a relationship with this man.

    IMHO, you won’t regret it, no matter how scared you are, what you find out, or how the meeting goes. You will never know anything unless you try it. I’m actually thinking about trying to find my half-sisters. Let me know if I can help in any way. Good luck, sunshine.

  11. Whoa. This is weird that you are writing about this. I just literally switched over from reading one of my closest friends blogs, and the parallels are amazing.

    Her dad is dying, and she recently got in touch with her half siblings. She is really glad she did, because it gave her some serious perspective. Although she has had to set up boundaries with them, she is very happy to have them to talk with. Her dad has also been the cause of a lot of therapy and emotional issues. I say, do it, if you feel the urge. It could be great at putting a bit of spackling on a hole or two.

  12. I have a half-sister that is the same age as my son. I met her once while visiting my Dad. She was two at the time. I was taking my son to meet his grandfather for the first time. I hadn’t seen my father in 15 years when I took him. Imagine my surprise to find out my Dad had a child my son’s age. Even though she has my dad’s DNA, we are not family. My Dad died earlier this year due to a twenty year drug habit. I hadn’t seen him in 8 years when he died.

  13. …you had interaction with him when you were younger, even into your pre-adult life …i found out that i had another brother only a few years ago …he’s at least 12 years older …i know his first name …the topic is taboo with my parents …such bullshit

  14. Do it. I have older half-siblings that I got to know as a teenager and it’s been awesome.

    I also have a sibling that my Mom gave up for adoption that I think about often…

  15. I have a sister I knew while growing up, but who moved away. We haven’t communicated in Years. The last time I tried,I discovered She Moved,left no forwarding address or phone number & none of her neighbors knew where she or the kids moved to. It’s up to her now. I haven’t moved in Decades, nor has my number changed. Her kids are Grown & I don’t know either of them. Good Luck!

  16. I think as long as you want to meet him just to meet him, and not because you have a huge pile of expectations that he’ll be a certain way… then it’s worth it. But if you know that you’ll need him to be how you’re imagining that he is, and that you’ll need him to tell you only certain things about your dad… then at the very least it will require serious thought before you move forward with this. But it sounds from your post like this is more about the former. In which case, I think this is totally worth pursuing.

  17. I have a large extended family and I don’t like any of them. That is pretty much the attitude with my entire family. We’re happier having each other out of our lives.

  18. Yes do it. It might not be a long term connection but it sounds like you have some history there.

    Like adena I have a half sister who does something similar because I will not accept her connection on facebook. Also I founf out about my half family at the same age (13) when a young girl called and asked to speak to her grandfather, um yeah so I called out to my mom to tell her about the crazy girl on the phone. Oh the look on my parent’s face! Not sure why they were keeping it a secret..

  19. Fascinating how little we actually know about the bloggers we read.

    I say tread carefully. You want to know more about your dad, but he may be a painful topic for your half-bro. If you find him, be open to his needs too.

  20. Wow could we have a long conversation about this.
    But he sounds like a decent guy, and with the opportunity, even with it’s scary possibilities, there’s still more to gain than lose. I support you from afar, because I know about wondering.

  21. I like what one of the previous commenters said about it being a good thing as long as you don’t have expectations of how your relationship might be (which it doesn’t sound like you do). It makes sense to me to want to know more about him, esp. if you share a parent.

  22. i can’t imagine it will be easy (in any sense) but i say go for it. he let you ride ponies and gave you kittens… he seems like a nice guy to know 🙂

  23. I agree that you should go with your instincts on this one. If you need to reconnect, GO FOR IT! You never know what might happen, but I think it’s always OK to reach out to someone.

    My mom has an estranged older sister… we hadn’t seen her in 20 years, and then, in graduate school, I moved into a house a block away from hers. She came to a few of my performances, and we had lunch a few times. It wasn’t anything particularly deep, but I am definitely glad that I called her up out of the blue.

    It’s funny, I read a Mark Twain quote this morning, something about how he regretted the things he hadn’t done, but never the things he DID.

  24. Yeah, I think that you should go for it. The best thing about doing it right now where you’re at is that you’re doing it on your terms, ya know? You make it what you want and let it affect you how you choose to filter it. So since it will give you insight and perhaps closure no matter what comes of it I say it can’t be a bad thing.

  25. I’m amazed by how many people commented with the same situation. You know this already, but this past summer I found my biological father after many years of searching. I’m so happy, its beyond words. What I also found out is I have two half brothers I never knew about, which has just now as I’m writing this brought me to the realization that truly I’m an only child. (WOW! I need to process that one more). Right now I’m very content to just spend time getting to know my Dad, but at some point would like to get to know my half brothers. What I’m saying in a very long winded way is if you know you want to meet him, regardless of how it turns out, don’t stop looking for him.

  26. I always think if something keeps coming into your mind, you need to explore it. Maybe nothing much will come of it, but maybe it will. Either way, at least you can put it out of your mind, right?

    Good luck!

  27. My husband has a half-brother who is four years older than him that he did not meet until recently. The brother was from one of his father’s previous marriages and there was bad blood/fall out and his dad never had contact with the son after he was born (which is horrifying, yet somehow understandable if you’ve met my father-in-law).

    There was a lot of drama surrounding FIL and other family when we wanted to invite the half-brother to our wedding reception. I’m glad we did because even though he doesn’t share my DNA, it was incredible to look into this stranger’s eyes and RECOGNIZE my husband and his relatives…AND even better to see my husband and new SIL have this experience with someone who shares a part of them that they never even knew. The new (to me) half-brother was a DOLL, I enjoyed every second of getting to know him and look forward to continuing getting to know him in the future. It was strange and neat to see how not having his birth father in his life affected him. I know half-bro is curious about his birth dad (how could he not be?), but what he doesn’t know was NOT having him in his life while he was developing and growing was a greater blessing for his sense of self and general well-being than you could imagine.

    Extended over share complete! Just couldn’t help myself. 😉

  28. I have a half-brother. He’s nine years older than I am. I met him a few times when I was a kid, but haven’t seen him since . . . well . . . since I was a kid. Last I knew, he was married and living in Florida. He has at least 4 kids that I’ve never met. Honestly, most of the time I have no recollection that he exists. Every time I remember him I wonder if he ever thinks about us. I doubt it.

  29. My mom’s “have safe sex” lecture when I went to college consisted of her telling me she had a baby ~3 years before she met my dad. She put him up for adoption. That’s all I know about him. I really would like to find him, as I share no siblings on my mom’s side, and my 1/2 siblings on my dad’s side are much older (and my only 1/2 brother passed away suddenly 7 years ago). I have no idea how to look for him, as I don’t even know what year he was born.

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