On friday evening I celebrated my (half) Sisters 18th Birthday. This was the first time we have celebrated her birthday together in 14 years.
As some of you know, a few months ago I finally found my half-sister online and made contact with her, for everyone else, here is the very complicated story of our relationship.
My “father” – and yes I put it like that because really, it isn’t a title that I feel he deserves and it isn’t one I usually address him by – met a lovely woman called Natalie, they were in a relationship for a few years and she ended up becoming pregnant with my half-sister Siani. Now, my dad being the straight up waste of space that he is, and the all round failure as a father (possibly even a human) managed to treat Natalie so poorly she ended up leaving him not too long after Siani was born. Natalie being the amazing woman that she was kept me involved in Siani’s life after their split, until Siani’s 4th birthday.
That was the last time I saw her, in nearly 14 years. At the last meeting Natalie told me she was getting married, and as soon as they were back from Honeymoon and everything like that she would be in contact (via my dad) and we would arrange more meet ups and life would carry on.
However…that was the last I saw or heard from them. Around this same time my dad moved to China, having given me all of 12 hours notice that he was leaving… that is another story for another day however….
Anyway, when I asked him for contact information for Natalie he told me he didn’t have it, because Natalie’s new husband wouldn’t let him be part of Siani’s life (something that even at 14 I didn’t believe) and he also went as far to tell me that they had moved to Wales.
So, my father left for China, the family I did have remaining on his side of the family carried on with the tradition of pretending I don’t exist and I had no way of know where my sister was or how to even find her.
Over the years whenever I would hear from my dad, which was once in a blue moon, I would always ask “Have you heard anything from Siani?” He would always so “No” or say “She’s in Wales” or something else. Then one day he his answer changed “Natalie wanted me to sign some papers so Siani could change her name and not be a Stratton anymore, but I told her to fuck off, she’s my daughter…” – Again even at a young age I knew my dad was full of shit. But still… I had no contact.
My mum drove me to Siani and Natalies old house once a while after my dad left but they had moved and the new owner didn’t have a forwarding address.
I knew where Siani’s grandparents on Natalie’s side lived, but I didn’t want to knock, incase they weren’t getting in contact for a reason, maybe they didn’t want me part of her life…
As the years went on and I grew up and she grew up and social media became popular I tried looking her up online, the problem here… She had changed her surname, she now went by Natalie’s new husbands name… it also didn’t help that I was looking in the completely wrong location. More on this in a little while.
So, the years ticked by, on her birthday and christmas I always thought of her, and whenever I would drive past her old house or her grandparents I would say to myself “I need to find her.”
I kept looking, but I didn’t have much luck and I couldn’t find Natalie, because I didn’t know her new married name. I knew nothing really.
Then one night, at about 3am when I couldn’t sleep again, I decided to have another go at finding them. I took what I did know, her birth date, her name, her place of birth, and Natalie’s maiden name.
I googled both of them, and searched every social media site I could. Then I started to get really in-depth, I was looking up Birth Records, to try to find out if I had Natalie’s maiden name correct, and then I started to google that, and putting it in to Facebook.
Then suddenly, at about 4am, Facebook showed me a Natalie with a different surname but with her maiden name in brackets after it. Her profile picture was her as a child so that didn’t help me, but I clicked her profile, and started scrolling down her page. It wasn’t long until there, in a post, was the name “Siani” tagged. I clicked her name and 14 years rushed past me in an instant and my little sister was now this beautiful woman. She was 17…. I had missed her whole life. Whenever I thought of her, she was still 4. Tiny and my little mini me, in my arms on her birthday. But she isn’t that little girl anymore… she’s a woman.
I cried initially, I was so happy to have found her. I wanted to message her immediately, but then I thought to myself “She might not even know who I am.” That thought was terrifying.
So, I back tracked and I messaged Natalie. I decided that I would reach out to her first, it was only fair.
So I sent her a very long message. It took me hours to write it an perfect it, but I basically wrote how I hoped she was the right person, and that I hoped she didn’t mind me contacting her, and telling her that I wanted to get in contact with Siani, but I didn’t know if that was ok, or if she knew who I was and just everything like that…
After that message was sent, I slept so well… I awoke in the late morning to a reply from Natalie, I was so nervous to open it… “What if she tells me to fuck off” or something like that. She didn’t. In fact she told me how happy she was to hear from me.
She told me that Siani knew exactly who I was, and that they too had been trying to find me for years, but didn’t know if I wanted them to be a part of my life etc etc.
She told me that she had shown Siani the message and that Siani was excited to hear from me, and that she was so touched that I had come to her first before contacting Siani.
Then she told me where they were living. For the past 14 years, Natalie, Siani, and their family have been living in…. Crawley. They have been the next town over all this time, and I never knew. I could have passed Siani in the street and not known her. All of those years lost, because my dad told me they had moved to Wales.
I told this to Natalie, the fact that the man who calls himself my father had told me for 14 years that Siani lived in Wales or had no idea where she was, and Natalie informed me that they had never lived in Wales… less surprising is the fact that he has never made any effort to contact her or Siani. I wish I could say I am shocked, but I know him.
I wish I had never believed him when he told me they were in Wales and that I had knocked on the door of Natalies parents, because they would have told me where they were.
I messaged Siani that day, after talking to Natalie, and within 10 minutes we had swapped phone numbers and we were texting, and they were essays these messages. Within a week or so we had arranged our first meet up. It was amazing. There wasn’t a single awkward silence, or anything. We talked for hours and we realised how much we have in common and how similar we are in ways. In fact we joke all the time about how weird it is that we didn’t grow up together but we are so similar it’s like we did.
She told me about everything she had been doing in those 14 years, about her little sister, her dad… everything, and I did the same.
Then we got on to the subject that couldn’t be avoided anymore… Our father.
She told me she didn’t even know what he looked like as there weren’t any photos of him from the neck up.
She asked about the family on that side, and she asked about our relationship. My initial response to her question was “I don’t want to tell you anything that might make you judge him… whilst he’s been a crappy father to you from day 1, there might be a time where you want to meet him and you should be able to form your own opinion.” However she told me she had a Dad, the man who had married Natalie and brought her up as his own. The man who loved her like a dad should (and I witnessed this at dinner on Friday.) and the man whose surname she used.
So I told her about the man who created us both. I told her how she looked like our Aunt and told her all about that side of the family. Well, I told her what I knew…
We have spoken every day since our first ever messages to each other, and we’ve met a few times, it was hard whilst she was doing her A-Levels as she still had college and exams etc, but now she’s off and she starts Uni soon.
But on Friday she invited me to dinner with all of her family. I already knew her mum, her aunt and cousins, her grandparents, but then there was her Dad’s family.
I was so nervous, but she had obviously told them all about me, and she saved me a seat next to her. I met her little sister, and we got on well… everyone made me so welcome and I had a great time. Siani and I spent a lot of time talking and laughing, and everyone was taking pictures and saying how lovely it is for us to be in contact again. When I see them I will add one of us on here.
Her dad also came up to talk to me, and made me so welcome, I thanked him for letting me be part of it all. He said “We sort of lost contact for a bit in the middle there..” and he laughed, I smiled at him and said “I was reliably informed you’d all moved to Wales, so I was looking in the wrong places for you…” and we gave each other knowing looks about my dad.
Siani had already been to dinner with me and my mum a few weeks before, and she had said to me after that Siani and I are very similar, we have a lot of the same facial expressions and the same mannerisms, and on Friday, Sharron, Siani’s aunt, said the same thing. She said to Natalie, “They are so alike aren’t they!” What was nice to hear was Natalie say “You’d never think they’d been apart 14 years, they are like best friends.”
I think she hit the nail on the head really. Siani does in a way feel like a best friend, finding her and bringing her back in to my life was like finding a piece of myself that was missing. In a weird way, I didn’t know it was missing but at the same time I did. That probably doesn’t makes sense. I have been without her for most of my life and I coped, but now I have her back I wonder how I managed it.
The other awesome news…. Initially I had just asked Siani to come to the wedding, but as we got closer it didn’t feel right her not being part of the wedding more, so on Friday I also asked her if she would like to be one of my bridesmaids. She was so happy and excited when I asked her, and she’s agreed which makes me so happy.
For the rest of my life I won’t have to wonder what she is up to and I won’t have to go through any more life stages without her to share it with. We have missed so much of each others lives, but that never has to happen again.
I may not have anything to do with my dad or his family, and he has caused me a lot of pain and heartache over my 27 years…. but at the same time, I wouldn’t have Siani without him. He tried to keep us apart, or that’s what it feels like, but he is half of both of us. Some how there are parts of him or weird genes that we both have, that shows nature over nurture – I mean what else explains all of the things we have in common, our interests and I mean some of them are weird like the fact we are both OBSESSED with Murder Mysteries….
Our handwriting is identical, our sense of humour is the same, this thing we both do with our eyebrows (apparently) and so much more, and whilst soon neither of us will be Stratton’s anymore we will always share those things, and we will have each other… and what is in a name anyway?