I didn’t know these 3 kids when this old B&W photo was taken — I wasn’t born for about another six years.
And from the date of my birth, Feb. 28, 1961 — which, amazingly, happened to be the same day the boy on the left turned 17 — I wouldn’t learn these kids even existed for another 44 years.
When I did, on June 10, 2005, a new world opened up to me, as I found out who my late biological mother was, who my siblings are and volumes more information than I had been able to dig up in months of searching.
But 16 years ago today, on June 11, 2005, when I reached out — not knowing whether I’d be accepted or rejected — to that toothy-smiled boy on the left, the new world I’d discovered blossomed into a whole universe.
Crystal “Crys” Edward Workman, the oldest of my three birth siblings, it turned out, wasn’t only receptive to the news he had a long-lost baby brother who’d grown up with an adoptive family — he was thrilled. (I’d say jubilant or overjoyed, but Crys doesn’t really do emotional outbursts. He’s much more the reserved, low-key type.)
At age 16, he knew our divorced mother Betty had become pregnant not long before turning 39. But what else could he think when she told him the following spring that she’d “lost the baby” except that I’d died in childbirth? And now that he knew I hadn’t, was his father Bob — the alcoholic who drowned in Tampa in 1962 — also mine?
DNA tests are a dime a dozen these days. But when Crys, our sister Terry and I had ours in July 2005 — during the driving trip Kay, our two young children and I took to Colorado to meet them and their families — they hadn’t become a genealogical craze yet.
Ours confirmed what we already had figured out: That Crys, Terry, our brother Robin in Florida and I were full-blooded siblings, and that Betty and Bob Workman — married from September 1939 to April 1959, an often-turbulent period during which they had three children in Huntington, West Virginia — were the parents of all four of us.
The possible scenarios of my conception in 1960 have played out in my head and heart repeatedly since I found my siblings. He said he’d stop drinking and she gave him yet another chance as she had so many times before. They both were drunk and one thing led to another. He did the unthinkable. We know he was back in the picture, because my sibs remember him being around after having been gone for months.
We’ll just never know.
When I found my three remarkable siblings in June 2005 at age 44, Crys was 61, Robin 57 and Terry 50. It was stunning to me to find not only that I had older sibs, not younger, but that they were so MUCH older and, as our saliva revealed, full-blooded kin, not half-siblings.
We bonded immediately, but in the 16 years we’ve been blessed with to get to know one another, learn one another’s quirks, and share memories, sad and happy moments, it’s become remarkably obvious, at least to me, that we ARE full siblings. To be sure, there are stark differences, but the similarities in personalities, interests and other areas make it clear we share all the genes both our parents gave us.
I grew up *with* one family. I loved my dad, I love my brother and, deep down, I loved my disturbed, abusive mother.
I grew *into* another family. And even though my biological parents died before I could meet them, they left behind three pretty amazing kids for me to find.
Happy “found ya” anniversary, Crys, Terry and Robin (who’s been in heaven since January 2009). I love you all.