An Ontario adoptee still can’t believe how quickly he was able to meet much of his Quebec family, just days after posting a simple photo on Reddit.
“It answers a question I’ve had since I was born,” says Chris McNeil enthusiastically, a few days after the unexpected reunion with an uncle, an aunt and two cousins.
Born in Ottawa in 1981 and adopted shortly after, the latter had followed all sorts of leads to find out more about his origins.
One of the few photos of Chris McNeil as a baby.
Using his birth certificate, he was able to trace his mother, Leigh-Ann Sybrandy, who died of an overdose in 1988.
But it was more complicated for his father, given his very common name in Quebec.
“One day, I had to call 50 men with his name, just to see. But it didn’t work, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” recalls McNeil. As his father has not expressed the desire to meet him, he prefers to conceal his identity.
Strangers to the rescue
Running out of ideas, he decides to publish on Reddit a photo from the 1980s given to him several years earlier.
In the photo, a couple dressed in vintage denim coats embrace in downtown Ottawa. Her 18-year-old mother is in the very early stages of her pregnancy.
” It was a longshot, but… People try to find the name of movies or books all the time. So, I thought to myself, why not ask for information on my biological father? », Explains in English Chris McNeil.
The thread’s response r/ottawa far exceeds his expectations. More than 400 people comment on his post, which has gone viral.
With the help of strangers, he manages to find his public profile on Facebook, and begins to contact people who seem related to him.
Chris McNeil (center) has reconnected with his cousin Carolyn Sabourin, his aunt Carolle Laliberté, his uncle Éric Laliberté and his cousin Alexandre Sabourin
Five days later, he found himself in Gatineau to share a pizza with his aunt Carolle Laliberté and her relatives.
“I arrived, and immediately I felt better,” says Chris, who discovered the same sense of humor as his biological family.
If the Lalibertés were well aware of the existence of “Christopher, the little blond”, they knew nothing of his life.
“We thought he was in Vancouver, or somewhere else in Canada. To say that all those years, he was next to us, ”says Carolyn Sabourin, his cousin found.
After leafing through photo albums and exchanging many anecdotes, they promised to meet again soon and introduce him to his 89-year-old grandfather.
“This time I will come with my wife and two children. They too are parents, ”promises Chris, still under the influence of emotion.