- Spend years searching via telephone using Directory Assistance. Rack up what could be hundreds of dollars in charges calling 4-1-1. (Have pen and paper ready because you can ask for multiple listings per call.)
- Call everyone who could possibly be related or has a name in common. Leave many messages, most of which will not be returned.
- Wait. Soon, someone will invent this thing called 'The Internet'.
- After much resistance, embrace this 'internet' and learn all you can about it. Concentrate specifically on a site called 'Google', which specializes in internet searches.
- Do random internet searches, finding outdated information about this relative you seek, but never quite connect with them.
- Make fun of people who are obsessed with Facebook, a popular social media website.
- Join Facebook and spend years living vicariously through other people. Learn their dislikes, likes and habits.
- Actually care enough about the people on Facebook to do things like acknowledge them on birthdays and anniversaries.
- (This is where the magic happens.) Randomly search for relatives, based only on being reminded of them because you have an aunt who has a birthday the same day as your husband. As you go to wish the aunt a happy birthday on her Facebook wall, note that someone else who just happens to have the same last name as your brother has also wished her a happy birthday. Upon seeing this random and unrelated person's post, feel the urge to do a random search for your brother. Note that, even though there is no Facebook connection between you and your brother or ANY OTHER RELATIVE ON FACEBOOK, the search engine pulls him up in the first 8 entries. This ensures that you cannot possibly miss it, especially since there is such a strong family resemblance AND because he has his birth date listed on his public profile.
The Short Version of the Story
I found my brother on Facebook the day before yesterday. We have the same mom. When our mom and his dad (my step dad) divorced, she and I moved away and never saw him again. That was over 30 years ago.
My whole life I wondered and worried about him. Now, we have finally found each other.
I'm going into the situation knowing we are both kinda screwed up so the expectations aren't high. Having the family life I had growing up...I'm not surprised to hear that his live wasn't exactly a bowl of cherries either.
So far? I like him. Already multiple conversations on the phone and not nearly the weirdness you'd expect. Getting off the phone yesterday, he ended the conversation with "Talk to you tomorrow!" and that just made me smile.
I have a picture of us together. He was maybe two or three and I was just a few years older. I got this picture about ten years ago while on a different journey seeking out my two other brothers (which is a long story for another day). When the picture was given to me, I asked who the boy was in the picture and I cried when I found out it was a little brother that I could barely remember.
When I saw his profile on Facebook while doing a completely random search...I knew immediately it was him. He looks like my mom, he looks like my uncle, but most significantly - he looks like my son.
I'll let you know how it turns out. ;)
P.S. There are so many more details to this story and so many more people that have been involved in my search. I am so grateful to everyone who have been helping me on this journey. I have had friends, other family members and a particularly wonderful spouse who have been searching right along with me, not just for this brother but for other family members as well. In order to tell the 'whole' story I'd practically have to write a book. In the interest of brevity and humor, I had to simplify my list. ;) Please know that I am so grateful to everyone who lent a hand in my many years of searching. We aren't done yet but this is a great start!!! Love you.