Christmas Surprise: Finding a long-lost brother

Christmas Surprise: Finding a long-lost brother

In honor of the holidays, we share an incredible story about MyHeritage user Roswitha, of Germany. She received a life-changing message on MyHeritage from her brother on Christmas. She believed he had died years ago.

Roswitha’s mother immigrated to Canada in 1956, leaving Roswitha, 2, behind.

I stayed and grew up with my grandparents in Germany. My mother was pregnant when she emigrated and, in September 1956, my sister was born in Montreal. A year later in December, my brother was born.

Until Roswitha was 24, she was only able to communicate with her mother through handwritten letters. She was never in contact with her siblings. Neither her sister nor her brother learned German, their mother’s native tongue.

When I was 24, my mother returned home for the first time to see me and my first child – her first grandchild. To be honest, I did not feel a mother-daughter relationship. After that, she only returned to Germany to see me twice more.

Many years later, in the 1980s, her brother Roger moved with his wife and daughters to the other side of Canada.

It was the last time he saw our mother. For a while, my mother tried to find him, but she failed! So she decided to tell us (my sister and I) that Roger had died.

Roswitha never looked for him because she thought he had died.

I didn’t try to find him after that.

She had been working on her genealogy for a while. She had researched the family history of her husband Albert and of her grandfather. But how did she get to MyHeritage?

My son will celebrate his 40th birthday in 2018 and I wanted to create a pedigree chart for him. I scoured the internet and came to MyHeritage. I liked the website and I decided to register. That was in fall 2015.

Unknown to Roswitha, at just about the same time, her brother Roger Byrom also registered on MyHeritage to look for his mother.

He visited Roswitha’s family site on MyHeritage and learned that his mother had died in May 2009. In that same year, Roswitha met her sister Mary for the first time.

We visited my mother because she did not have much longer to live. Our mother died while we were both with her.

On December 26, the day after Christmas 2015, Roswitha received an email from MyHeritage:

“I am your brother Roger Carlo Joseph Zontar Byrom.”

Says Roswitha, “I fell from the clouds. Until that moment, I had believed my brother had already died.”

 In his message, he mentioned things that only he could know as my brother. It was the most beautiful Christmas present I had ever received. I informed my sister Mary who could not believe it either. But it was true — it was our brother!

I cannot begin to describe the feelings that came up for me. It was just a Christmas miracle.

Roswitha (right) with sister Mary) meets her brother Roger for the first time [courtesy photo]

In March 2016, Roswitha and her husband Albert visited Roger for two weeks in Canada.

It was heartbreakingly nice to be able to embrace him after 58 years of not seeing each other. My sister Mary also came to visit. It was a family reunion that could never be topped. Since then, we have been in constant contact with each other.

What advice does Roswitha have for others searching for beloved relatives?

One should never give up hope! Even if you suspect that this person is no longer alive. You can see that in my story.

Only one thing clouded their family’s happiness — her nephew Roger Byrom, Jr.

Her brother Roger saw his son for the last time 34 years ago, when he separated from his wife Debbie. This prevented him from seeing his son again. Now they are trying hard to find Roger Jr.

“Never give up” is Roswitha’s motto!

Can you help Roswitha?  Or, do you also wish to share your story? If so, leave a comment below or send an e-mail to