Are We Related?


I can’t recall exactly how old I was when I found out. I might have been 10 or 11 years old. I had taken a leisurely stroll through the kitchen/dining room area on the way to play outside. My parents were sitting at the dining room table in a deep and serious discussion, but as it was not anything about what kind of trouble I was currently in, I paid it little mind. But in my passing I heard one word that blared like a trumpet through the other conversation. That word was adoption.

It barely registered at the moment. But after some thought, it lit a spark in my rational thinking. Why was this word even used in a conversation by my parents? I started to think hard on its context. There were my sister and brother, Jody and Mark, six and seven years older than I respectively, and then me. I did the math and figured that my siblings would have been born while my folks were in their mid to late twenties. Then much later I came along. Then it struck me. I was adopted. The math just seemed to make sense. Plus, it explained why I was so much more attractive than the rest of the family. I was suddenly overwhelmed by emotions. I sat on the curb in front of our house and openly wept. I was angry that no one had ever told me about this.

At some point, my neighbor and best friend, Kevin, came out and sat beside me. He asked what I was upset about, and I told him of what I had heard and my theory regarding the subject. He consoled me and explained that it was my brother and sister who were adopted by my father as they were children from my mother’s first marriage. I wanted to feel relieved, but I only felt angrier. How was it that my neighbor, who was only one year older than I was, had a more accurate history about our family than I did? I was dumbfounded.

Over the years, I gained more details regarding my parents lives before I arrived. And although my siblings were half-brother and half-sister, they had been in my life the whole time and were always treated by my father as his children. And for me, the term “half” anything never really applied to them. They were, are, and always will be my sister and brother. It did help explain why they were so weird sometimes though, and that was a blessing. But I was still always a little taken back by my parents need or want to keep things like this so secretive.

I learned that family has little to do with genealogy and everything to do with presence and love. I also learned my parents were masters at keeping a secret. Yes, this one did not stand the test of time. But it wasn’t until my father passed away in 2015 that I learned I had a whole other set of a half-brother and half-sister (my father’s children from his first marriage) that I had never known about. Can you imagine that? A whole other set of siblings that would go unmentioned even to the grave. I found that out when my unspoken half-brother, Jeffrey, called to introduce himself after dad’s funeral. I probably should have been more inquisitive that summer day sitting on the curb with my neighbor Kevin.

It is a crazy family. I have cousins who aren’t really cousins. A stepmother that is my aunt. Siblings I have never met. But I have learned a valuable lesson. I have learned to be kinder to the people I meet, as I now wonder if we aren’t somehow related.


18 Responses to “Are We Related?”
  1. Oh, brother dearest, I, too, did not know that Mark and I were adopted until I accidentally came across something that had mom’s name on it with a last name I didn’t recognize. Yes, our parents were truly adept at keeping secrets! I mean, heck, they had to have known, but never said a word, that I was living less than a mile away from my biological father for quite a few years as an adult! They had many secrets each of them took to the grave with them. I did try asking once about one of them (after learning they were moving to Florida) and was told I wasn’t going to get an answer. Even grandma and grandpa weren’t open about details – I suspect Aunt Fern was the one most likely to spill her secrets. There are things I will always wish I knew, but what I do know, and makes everything else forgivable, is that, together, mom and dad created this amazing human being to be the best brother a person could ask for! You’ve sometimes been a half of a pain in my butt, but that’s the only way you’ve ever been half of ANYTHING in my life!

  2. Reblogged this on Ramblings and Ruminations and commented:
    My amazing brother, Brad, wrote this about our family dynamics! Trust me, he is completely and wholly my brother by heart, blood lines be damned!

  3. beth says:

    I love this and your thought process along the way, trying to make sense of it all. we found out just before my father died that he had a ‘secret sister’ who my grandmother had given birth to when she was young and living on a farm, and we knew nothing else. his whole life, he yearned to have a sib and it turns out he did but we didn’t find out until much too late, and after anyone who knew anything had passed away.

  4. K.L. Hale says:

    Brad, I can only imagine the shock. And I’m not shocked by what little separates us all. The only thing shocking in my family was when I learned my grandmother had been married at 15 and lost her first son and husband in a house fire. My Mom has 6 brothers and sisters, and we (my sisters and I-and other cousins) never knew this until we were older. And strangely, we were then shown the two markers at Union Chapel church, were they are buried next to all the Wilson’s. It just felt strange to not know this until almost 30. But to not know siblings history must be indeed shocking. Thank you for sharing with us in such a relatable way.

  5. kristianw84 says:

    Have you ever watched the show This is Us? I’m asking because a similar situation happens in the story. It’s an amazing show that touches very deeply on very real, often dark, and serious issues.

    Anyway, I share your sentiment about half-siblings. I don’t personally have one, but I have cousins who are, but there is no telling them that, they are full brothers in their hearts and minds, and although they are biologically my cousins, my brother and I have always looked at them like brothers. I also have friends who are more like family to me than some of my blood relatives.

    I enjoy learning more about you, my friend. I feel a little closer to you every time I read one of your personal stories.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thanks Kristian! I guess all families are a hybrid to some degree. I have not watched the show, but I do know is got rave reviews for both storyline and the actors. Glad you find these old stories of interest. Much love to you both!

  6. Jim Borden says:

    wow – what a story. but from the stories you have told about your brother, to the comments your sister makes on your posts, it is obvious you grew up as part of a wonderful family…

    have you stayed in touch with Jeffrey?

  7. Families are what we make them and secrets travel quietly but love makes the whole experience worthy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Awesome, thank you for sharing.
    Life can be amazing, rewarding & scary as hell.
    Funny how we play with our own minds

  9. jonicaggiano says:

    Wow Brad what a story. Of course I am sure you were hurt and even angry but your parents sound like they loved and treasured you all. To be a child and feel loved, safe and not afraid of what horror might befall you, is a blessing. It sounds like you became a man that your parents would have been so proud of too. It sounds like you are close to your siblings and that to is a blessing. Brad this must have been so sad when it happened and I am so sorry. I am glad that you have your siblings especially your very kind sister. Thank you for sharing that great story with us. Sending you my love. ❤️🤗🥰

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