Searching for family involves using every tool available. Sometimes, there’s also a bit of divine intervention.
In Texas, Christy Landry and her family were going through a difficult period in March. Her husband, John, went to church and asked for a prayer for his family. The pastor told him that God would heal their family. They didn’t know how soon!
Christy shared their family story with MyHeritage.
She’ll never forget Monday, March 19. She was at the computer beginning the long process of doing their family tree (again), this time on MyHeritage.com.
I was going to redo the entire thing - this time with resources, evidence, and total assurance that I had it right. I began, like anyone else, by adding my name first, then my husband’s, our son and my husband’s father. I was about to add my parents when I saw the first SmartMatch. ’What’s this?’ I thought, as I clicked on it.
John (she calls him JJ) and Christy married in 2011 after being together for eight years. Born in Texas, she was raised near her entire extended family. A very tight-knit family, her parents’ home was the center for holidays and often some 30-60 people gathered there.
On Christmas Eve in 1994, my parents’ house was filled wall-to-wall with people. My cousin and his wife slept on the floor by the front door - the only empty spot. We are still close, but we now all have our own families, so we don't get to spend many holidays together.
Born in Maine, JJ moved to Texas as a 2 or 3-year-old toddler. The only family he knew was a sister, his parents and his maternal grandmother. He hadn't spoken to his mother since 2000; they have no idea where she is. His grandmother died in 1991. Not a close family, they can (and have) gone several months or a year or more without speaking, according to Christy.
SmartMatches were the key, wrote Christy.
When I saw Landry Jr and Wilson, I thought ‘hmmm, it couldn't be.’ When I saw Landry had married Ryan, I thought ‘What are the odds?’ I scrolled up to look at Landry Jr's parents, and when I saw his father was born in Rhode Island (which we had suspected) and that he died in California, I knew I might be on to something.
She looked at the photo of John Joseph Landry, Sr. and saw the family resemblance. Christy called her mother – who lives next door – and asked her to send JJ home.
When he walked in, I asked, ‘Are you ready for this?’ He had no idea what I'd been doing. I said, ‘Meet your grandfather.’ He was floored. At this point, I was 99% sure. We talked for a minute and continued looking at the photos. When we came to the picture of JJ, his dad and his sister, we knew - without any doubt - we'd hit the bull’s eye!
JJ and Christy talked, cried, danced, jumped up and down, and cried some more. Until that day, JJ had never seen a picture of himself before he was 7 or so. He'd never seen a photo of his parents’ wedding. The MyHeritage tree also listed his aunts, uncle and a Landry (born Andre) married to his grandfather. The couple realized what JJ had long doubted: His grandmother was still alive!
Back on the computer, Christy searched Facebook and found three aunts and his grandmother. They knew they'd found living, breathing relatives. JJ then sent a short email - via MyHeritage - to the site administrator who had created that family tree, with the subject, "Are you my aunt?"
The next afternoon, JJ dictated and Christy typed a Facebook message with the information they had, and sent it to his grandmother and aunts. JJ hit the “send” button. He hesitated the first two times. The third time, he clicked it so fast, Christy didn't even see it.
Then they waited.
Christy and JJ talked, read, cried, talked and cried some more. He stayed up all night waiting for a response. He refreshed his MyHeritage page at least 100 times. In the morning he went next door to his mother-in-law’s home and - within 10 minutes - Christy checked his MyHeritage messages again.
There it was, in black and white: "Yes, I am your Aunt Kathy." Christy immediately called him and they cried again as they read the message from Kathy, who’d been searching for JJ for 30 years.
A few minutes later, Kathy called JJ for the first time.
They were so emotional, excited and tearful, that I had to relay messages back and forth. When they could finally speak, they turned on the speaker and talked for three hours. While they were talking, JJ's sister called, and she also spoke to her aunt. JJ’s questions were answered, his past confirmed and he realized why (and how) he grew up the way he did.
Later that night, JJ spoke with his Aunt Cindy. A few days later, he received a Facebook message from his grandmother and was waiting to talk to her.
A meeting has not yet been planned, although Christy says there will be one. “I’m planning on buying stock in Kleenex for when it happens!”
We’ve learned there are many hard feelings and animosity from JJ's dad towards the aunts and grandmother. The animosity is one-sided – they’ve always been open to a reconnection – his father is the stubborn one. We know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the pastor was correct when he said God would heal our family, whose relationships had suffered for 30 years.
MyHeritage is happy to have helped bring this family together after 30 years of separation.
We'd like to hear about your experiences finding family on MyHeritage. We look forward to reading your comments.