At subsequent reunions, family members found themselves gawking at their newly found brother. One sister stared at him from across a room. Later, Skip told Steve, “All she did was stare at me.” The reason, Steve explained, is that he looks so much like her brother and father.
Skip’s biological family has embraced him, including him in church functions, funerals, weddings and other family gatherings. “If my wife and I could pick who we would want to be our family, we couldn’t have done any better,” says Skip. “They’re wonderful. They’ve just taken me in I will be eternally grateful to Steve for the courage he had to make that call to me.”
Steve, Skip and their families have met frequently and vacationed together. The brothers meet or talk on the phone frequently. They have been surprised to find so many similarities, just small things that must have traveled through their DNA. Both were contractors early in their lives. Both like automobiles and drag raced in their teens. Both have been described by others as quiet types who don’t like crowds and aren’t much for banter or conversation. Both are prone to streaks of orneriness and easy frustration.
As if to complete the happy ending, Clara met Charlotte — Skip's adoptive mother — for the first time, in the LDS Bountiful Temple a few weeks after meeting Skip. After embracing, Clara thanked Charlotte for raising a good son and Charlotte thanked her for the opportunity.
For Clara, finding Skip and bringing her family together was the last piece of the puzzle in the completion of her life. Approaching her 79th birthday, she had finally found a good man in Joe Hill, a widower who sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was a stake patriarch in the church. They had met decades earlier in the mission field — because of a shortage of missionaries during World War II, they actually were mission companions, a rarity in church history. They were married in 2001 and enjoyed nine years together before Joe died.
“It’s obvious that our family tree does not look like a tree,” said one family member at Clara’s funeral. “It is a thicket, but I assure you that love exists in that thicket. And I’m so grateful for all of my brothers and sisters and family members. Not all of Heavenly Father's children come to earth through a typical family or stay in a typical family. And this is part of our test to understand each other as God’s children (and) to love each other.”
As for Steve, the only child, he now has 21 brothers and sisters in that thicket — counting half-siblings and step-siblings — not to mention three step-children and three biological children.
“This happened so quickly,” says Steve. “It’s miraculous, the way Judd found him immediately. We all believe there was help from the other side and that Joe and especially my father were involved. After my dad — and mom — spent a lifetime seeking forgiveness from God and from all involved, we felt he was part of our finding Skip. It’s been a miraculous thing. The way Skip describes it, "it’s like we’ve known each other all along. This has brought so much happiness to our family."
Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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