Stan Hecht and Dena Hirschberg are smiling and reaching for hello hugs as soon as they spot one other. For anyone watching and experiencing this, you can feel the love of a brother and sister connecting. To listen to the StoryCorps interview click READ MORE and then click here: Found Family.
You would never know that they found one another in 2019 after 60 plus years of being only children.
In the fall of 2017 David Hecht, Stan’s son was gifted Ancestory.com by his wife Sarah. He was looking for Native American roots and was intrigued to find out anything about his dad’s biological family. Over the years, everyone in the family was invested in finding out about Stan’s biological family.
David spent a month on Ancestory.com and by Thanksgiving found no Native American roots and no information about his dad either. He logged out. A year later, in 2018 he hopped back on only to find a 2017 message from someone with enough connection to David’s dad, that David knew it had to be his dad’s brother.
The message said, “Hey, you just popped up, we came up as close relatives, I’m not sure what that means. Do you know these surnames?”
David relays that his jaw dropped because one of those surnames was listed on his dad’s birth certificate.
“You’re not going to believe this,” he said to his wife and mom. “There’s a message from someone who is closely related to dad!” David thought: “I’ve got to find this guy!”
“The issue was that I found this message a year after he sent it! I responded via Ancestory.com and found him on Facebook. When I found him, both Sarah and I knew it was my dad’s brother. That’s why he came up as such a close relative-he would have to be my uncle. Reading his FB page, I realized that my dad and this guy were very similar. They shared musical tastes, sports, and political views. Nature vs. nurture even though they were raised in different families and states.”
David sent him a message, “Hey, here’s the situation.,” and explained what he knew.
The reply, “My mom didn’t have any other family.”
David messaged, “My dad’s adopted, and this is the name on his birth certificate. We don’t know if this was a married name or a made-up name.”
The reply, “That’s my mom’s name.”
David responded, “I think you’re probably my dad’s brother.”
What ensued was a conversation about family; David finding out that there was a younger sister as well.
David contacted his dad and said, “I think you need to sit down. I think I found your brother.”
Stan questioned, “What?”
David, said “Yes, I’ve been messaging someone who has the same name as your biological mom.”
Stan was shocked.
David recalls that it took the two men awhile to talk.
“They both felt hesitant. Then they friended on Facebook and spoke.”
In early 2019, Stan contacted David, “You’re not going to believe this.” His biological siblings told him, “We just found another sister. Her name is Dena, and she lives in Chicago.” The four siblings share a biological mother, each with different biological fathers.
From there all four siblings had a chance to meet. According to all reports it was a lively, fun meeting.
That’s where that particular story ends.
“My goal”, David says, “was to give my dad something that he hadn’t had, that I knew he wanted. But, also, to do it in a way that he could not get hurt. My real concern was that we would find family and the family would not want anything to do with him and that would be really hard. And in some ways, that is ultimately what happened. They don’t want a relationship, which sucks.
Which makes me even more grateful that Dena is in the picture. It took a story that could have had a really sad ending…and made it really amazing. Because those two have become close.”
Stan and Dena are very clear: they have one mother and father each. The families that parented and loved them. They also happen to share a biological mother who put both up for adoption.
Speaking with them they stand strong in their feelings and memories of their MOM and DAD, the people that raised them, protected them, loved them, helped them grow into the responsible, kind, respectable, loving, fun, funny, and generous individuals they are today. MOM and Dad.
The Hecht’s and the Hirschberg’s.
One of the BEST parts of this story is the gift that both Stan and Dena were to the Hecht’s and the Hirschberg family and the gift that these families were to Stan and Dena. They grew up knowing they were adopted-it was no secret-and that they were loved and wanted. Both the Hecht’s and the Hirschberg’s waited for THEIR baby, their child.
The other BEST part of this story?
Today, Stan and Dena are family. Shared blood, shared bonds, shared love.
If you didn’t know it, you would think they grew up with one another. When they interact, they look to one another as they tell stories. They are easy with one another and comfortable. They might not have a shared childhood; they have cellular history.
And. They have each other. Listening to their interview, you can’t help but feel their story of love and connection.
David says, “She is good with him, and he is good with her. They have a good dynamic together. She has challenged him and brings out the best in him. If Dena wasn’t the person she was, this might not have happened. Each are included in one another’s family get-togethers and celebrations.”
Stan and Dena have chosen this family. They like one another, enjoy one another, they laugh and have fun together. They are there for one another for all life has to offer. They might have only recently found one another, but their lives will never be the same. A sibling they never imagined finding. Family they didn’t know they had…yet might have hoped for.
More hugs and laughter. Brother and sister smiling at one another. Together at last.
Thanks to David Hecht for his time and help with the background information. And his idea for this interview.
Thanks to Stan Hecht and Dena Hirschberg for sharing their story. The time spent thinking about this and their generosity of spirit. I appreciate their willingness to be so open and vulnerable in telling their story.
As the recorder, I am grateful for their trust in me to tell their story. It was a lovely afternoon full of love, gratitude, laughter, and family.
Thanks, also to my writing/editing mentor Janice Denham who walked beside me with her knowledge and messages of confidence. She’s one in a million!
For more StoryCorps interviews, personal narratives, travel blogs and information about Whole Brain Thinking, visit my website: https://wilsonmentoringwriting.com/
Expect Good. Sparkle On. Defy Gravity. And…hug your family. Whatever family you have, and you have created!