Through the last 40 years of our marriage we wondered what Jeff’s story was and why he was put up for adoption. While very appreciative of his adoptive parents, he has always dealt with a sense of sadness and feeling of rejection.
After years of pleas from our children and me who wanted to know more about his family and medical history, he finally decided to contact Ancestry.com and order a DNA kit. After spitting in a tube, sealing and stamping the envelope, he sent it off and waited for results. Additionally, he had a baptismal record containing his biological mother’s maiden name, which we read as Valerie Payne, so we began checking online for her name, but to no avail. One day, when our son, Nick, was looking at the document he said, I think it says “Valsey” Payne, so in 2013 we began to search for her by that name. BINGO! We found her obituary with a “survived by” notification listing a son, George Dominix, of Grand Falls-Windsor, and daughter, Elaine Dominix Thorne, of St. Johns, Newfoundland.
Never one to let a good story drop, I insisted he contact the minister who presided at his mother’s funeral. After explaining the situation to him, the pastor agreed to give us contact information for both of his siblings. Jeff said he was too emotional and asked me to call his sister. Seriously, what do you say to a 40-year-old woman over the phone in another country – “I think my husband might be your biological half-brother.” That was it exactly! Immediately, Elaine refuted that stating that her cousin’s mother had a baby “out of wedlock” in the 50’s and that he could be the long-lost brother of her cousin, Joyce. She suggested we call her.
Within five minutes, Elaine had called us back and said she had spoken to Joyce who confirmed that Elaine’s mother also had a baby prior to marrying who she also had put up for adoption. While the family knew, no one had told Jeff’s two siblings out of respect for his mother. She was floored! Immediately, she called her brother, George, and told him, “you better sit down”. She relayed the news to him and since then all three siblings have been in contact via Skype weekly.
In August, 2015 our younger two children, Nick (25) and Becca (20) joined us for the adventure of our first face-to-face meeting. It was a tearful/joyful reunion that was 60 years in the making (well, at least for Jeff). George and Elaine are both younger than him, since his mother married later. Both siblings showed up with their families at the airport and the fun began in earnest!
From the moment we met George and Jeff gave him a gift, we realized how many “silly mannerisms” they shared. As soon as the gift was unwrapped, George took the “comic strip” wrapping paper and stuck it on his head as a hat. Becca commented, “Oh my, Uncle George, it’s scary, you’re just as crazy as dad!”
The Indianapolis Star wrote up a story about Jeff, which was picked up by USA Today: