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‘Oh my God, you’re my brother’: Man in his 70s discovers 6 unknown siblings

Hugh McCormick had received a 23andMe kit from his son-in-law one Christmas after his daughter told her husband he was adopted. The Winnipeg resident was always curious about where he came from, partly wanting to know about his ethnic heritage, but also if he should be concerned about any hereditary health issues as he got older.

In an interview with CTVNews.ca, McCormick says he provided a saliva sample and sent it away, receiving the results in January 2023. He was relieved to know there were no health concerns, and the test confirmed his northern European heritage.

But within the results, McCormick discovered an unknown relative who also took the 23andMe test. McCormick had his own birth certificate in his possession, which revealed his birth mother’s name. When he made first contact with this person, he asked if the name meant anything to them. 

“Oh my God, you’re my brother,” McCormick recalls her saying. “There were a lot of tears, a lot of tears.”

But the news didn’t stop there, as his new sister informed him he had five other brothers, with whom he shared the same parents.

Learning about his birth parents

McCormick, 71 and now six-years retired after working for the Canadian National Railway, learned the story of his birth parents through his sister. His father was separated from a previous marriage when he met his mother. When they had a child, who turned out to be McCormick’s older brother, they sent him to live with his grandparents.

Hugh McCormick as a child. (Photo provided by Hugh McCormick)

“You have to put it in the context of the 1950s,” he said. “It was inappropriate (to have a child out of wedlock) in those days.”

The couple had a second child, Hugh, and gave him up for adoption.

“After that, the father’s separation was finalized as a divorce and the parents wound up getting married. They had the rest of the children, and they never even told anybody about me.”

Now married with children, the couple would raise their kids near Kamloops, B.C.

Making first contact

His first contact with his new siblings was over the phone with his sister, which he called “an emotional experience.” She gave him the names and phone numbers of all the brothers.

The first of his newly discovered family members to visit was a group of three brothers. McCormick says what stood out to him was how similar they were, despite having never met.

“We were all sitting outside and my wife came out and said, ‘You guys all sound the same,'” McCormick recalls. “When we compared our lives, it turns out we had done a lot of the same kind of things.”

Hugh McCormick and his brother. (Photo provided by Hugh McCormick)

They learned they had similar interests. Their father was a master mechanic, which explained where the brothers developed their love for working on cars. Despite never knowing them, McCormick shared that passion for the intricacies of mechanics and working with your hands.

Later on, he would visit one brother in Saskatoon then last July, two other brothers visited him in Winnipeg. He says every experience was a positive one.

A discovery in your 70s

McCormick says his adopted parents were “fantastic” and that he couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing. He has one sister with his adopted family who lives about a half hour from where he is, and they chat regularly.

Hugh McCormick and his adoptive mother. (Photo provided by Hugh McCormick)

He refers to his genealogical discovery as “a win-win situation,” but that it’s too bad it took 70 years to find out. Still, he feels like everything worked out in the end.

“We contact each other on a semi-regular basis, and actually, they’ve mentioned to me that meeting my wife and I has brought them together because families can drift apart over the years,” McCormick said.

“Finding an unknown brother has kind of brought them all back together.”

CTV News asked readers to share their discoveries after using 23andMe, Ancestry, MyHeritage and other genealogy websites. These websites surfaced stories of uncovering family secrets, locating long-lost relatives and exploring family trees. More than 100 people responded to our callout.

Visit CTVNews.ca Monday mornings to read the latest in our DNA Diaries series.

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