COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – A Coquitlam man has found a half-sister he didn’t even know he had — and it’s all thanks to social media.
Six months after Rychelle Clairmont-Dipalo posted on Facebook looking for her half-brother who was given up for adoption as a baby, her dream has come true. Shaun Bons, 39, was scrolling through Facebook when he saw the post, which had his birth date and birthplace, and thought ‘what are the odds.’
Bons has never known much about his birth family. He sent the Facebook post to his wife who, with his permission, reached out to Rychelle to see if there was a family connection.
“She’s like, ‘I think my husband’s your brother,'” Rychelle says. “I was shaking. I was in my lunch room, and just shaking — I was just shocked.”
It turns out Rychelle was part of a family Shaun has never known.
“Eight neices and nephews, and sisters, and aunts and uncles. It’s nice, but it’s also terrifying,” Shaun says, laughing.
Rychelle, who now lives in Alberta, explains after her mother passed away in 2003, she was going through some of her belongings and found her brother’s birth certificate and a few pictures: “I was kind of holding onto that for awhile and just felt that now would be a good time to start that search.”
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“I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a chance. Maybe he’ll see it. I just wanted confirmation he had a good life. I always thought about him,” she says.
A few days later, it was confirmed: Shaun and Rychelle are siblings.
“We were able to finally confirm it with the birth certificate number,” says Rychelle. “The birth certificate I have and the one he has from when he was adopted match.”
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Shaun says the experience has been been exciting, and almost overwhelming. Not only has he found out he has two sisters, but now he’s also now learning about the rest of his family: “But it’s more surreal than anything, going almost 40 years, being an only child, and now having this crazy extended family.
“It’s nice, but also terrifying,” he says, laughing.
Shaun says he assumed he had family out there, but didn’t know what had happened to his birth parents. He said he didn’t make any attempts to get in contact because he didn’t feel a need to with his good up-bringing.
“There was no crazy desire to look. I was always curious in the back of my head, but not really looking for them,” he says.
The siblings have now spoken over the phone and started trying to get to know each other. Rychelle says they clicked immediately, began catching up and joking around.
Now they have plans to meet in person before the new year. Rychelle says her aunt has terminal cancer, which means they are trying to speed up the timing of the reunion.
“She’s in the hospital here in Calgary, so I think he wants to get out [here] because it’s my mom’s only sister. He wants to get out to see her, too,” she says.
Shaun was born in Salmon Arm in 1979. Rychelle says her mother and boyfriend decided to placed him for adoption because they were teenagers and felt they were too young to raise a child.
“He was adopted by a couple that couldn’t have children,” Rychelle explained. “They never ended up having any other children. So, he’s coming from an only child [family situation]. Then, of course, me and my sister have a bunch of kids and a big family. So, it’s probably quite a shock for him, going from only child to having sisters and nieces and nephews.”
Rychelle tells us her mother would have loved to have had the chance to meet her son.
“She always talked about my brother. Towards the end of her life, she had really tried reaching out more, trying to find him and always talked about him. He kept this envelope of his pictures. She passed away in 2003 and we held onto that hope that he would be found.”
She says finding her brother is bittersweet. “I’m happy that I found him, but the sad part is she didn’t get to see him. But we feel at least we can live out that legacy, to some extent.”
Rychelle was raised in Abbotsford and recently moved from Chilliwack to Alberta.
“So, I’ve always kind of been in the Fraser Valley. We actually were quite close together. The funniest thing is my son, my new sister-in-law did his onboarding for his company. He worked for her — he didn’t even know. My brother has actually even done electrical work where my son works.”
– With files from Estefania Duran and Lauren Boothby