Finding Family

My Dad and three of his half-brothers after the Memorial Day Parade

My Dad has always been a bit of a loner. He was adopted into a small family with one non-biological sibling. They were not close. His brother and adopted parents died decades ago. So he became an orphan, again. When I was a teenager, we lost my brother to leukemia. We were very close. It was a shock to become the only surviving child. I still feel like a huge chunk of me is missing. Since then I’ve been a bit of a loner too. A perpetually single introverted extrovert. I can enjoy groups of people in small doses. But I need plenty of quiet time to recharge afterward. I have one child of my own, giving us another generation in our line, while still carrying on in small family mode.

At the end of 2018, my Dad showed me an obituary and said “this was my mother.” He was so certain. He had been adopted through the Catholic Charities and given very little info other than his birth name and date. This woman’s maiden name matched his birth surname. It’s not a terribly common or uncommon one. An anglicization of the modern Irish Gaelic O’Riordan (which itself is derived from the original O’Rioghbhardain, meaning royal bard). A few years ago I had gotten him to do a National Geographic DNA test but it didn’t yield much. In 2020, we opted to do and 23 & me as well. When his results came back it turned out he was right. The woman in the obituary was his birth mother. Two of her surviving children popped up as my Dad’s half-siblings. My Dad doesn’t have a computer so I’ve been managing the bulk of this enterprise. I messaged the close matches and arranged a few phone calls. We learned that my Dad’s birth mother married the year after he was born. She went on to have ten more children. All single births. She was, essentially, pregnant from 1944 to 1968. Wild. And nine of these half-siblings are still alive. But, because of the pandemic, an in-person meetup was delayed. Until last month. When we met all of them. On Memorial Day. It was overwhelming but wonderful.

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