Finding family after 60 years
Appeal Staff Writer
Pat Stanley waited 60 years to eliminate a void in his life that he didn’t realize he had, that is until he filled it.
Adopted at 6 months of age, Pat grew up the youngest of two children. He said that although he knew he was adopted for the majority of his life, he really had no desire to track down his birth family.
“Then I started getting older and was getting a little gray and became interested in my family history for health reasons,” Pat, now 63, said.
All he had was a Canadian birth certificate listing his name as Robert Louis Bryenton.
He tried for a couple of years to trace his roots, but it led only to dead ends. Then a friend with knowledge of genealogical research took up the cause.
Three days later, she called with news.
“She called and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, I found your family. You have nine brothers and sisters.’ I went from being the youngest of two to the oldest of 10,” Pat said.
He called his birth brother Hayden Chandler and was invited to come up to Prince Edward Island for Christmas that year, 2003.
“I was very nervous, not knowing what to expect. But when I met them I got the feeling that my life had come full circle,” Pat said.
After several flights traveling through four time zones, Pat arrived on Christmas Eve to meet his siblings.
“I thought they’d have a sign saying ‘Pat Stanley,’ but instead, I saw me,” Pat said. “I’d seen pictures of (Hayden), but it doesn’t do him justice. He looks just like me.”
Since that initial meeting, Stanley has returned to the island and met all but one of his siblings.
Pat’s adopted sister Martha said, “When you know you are adopted, it’s a big question mark. So when you find family, it’s not like your world is changing, it’s just filling in blanks.”
He was able to see his birth mother’s grave and the orphanage where he spent the first months of his life. He also recovered his first known picture. Just months old, he was in his mother’s arms.
He was supposed to arrive with the Stanleys when he was 3 months, but the family was contacted and told he had a terminal Thyroid condition and wouldn’t survive the year. After contacting their family doctor, the family discovered Pat had been misdiagnosed and had a similar but treatable condition.
However, his birth family wasn’t told of the misdiagnosis and believed he had died.
Despite the warm reception from his birth siblings, Pat said he wouldn’t change his decision to wait until after his adoptive parents’ deaths to seek them out.
“Our mother would have taken it hard I think, but it’s something you need to know,” Martha said.
Pat said, “Now that I’ve met my family, I could die tonight and be happy. I didn’t think there was anything missing, but there was a hollow spot that has been filled.”
Now Pat wants to share his experiences with others who were adopted or are looking to adopt.
“I’m hoping it will be a social group and in some ways a support group,” Pat said.
Anyone interested in more information should e-mail Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.
For more information
Anyone interested in more information about an adoption support group should
e-mail Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org.