Northern Ireland

Adopted Randalstown man reunites with biological family

family Image copyright Nicky Bonnes
Image caption Oliver Bonnes (centre back with hat) with his new found family in America

A man who was given up for adoption by his young mother more than 70 years ago has found a host of new family members thanks to an online genealogy site.

Oliver Bonnes, from Randalstown, discovered he had three half-brothers, an aunt and uncles and first cousins.

His son Nicky did the sleuthing online and was able to find a DNA match with a first cousin in America.

Oliver then found out he had many living relatives in the US, England and Ireland.

Adoption

Oliver's mother Mary Josephine Brady became pregnant as a young, single woman and when she gave birth she allowed a couple from Randalstown to adopt him.

Although his new parents never actually told him that he was adopted Oliver always knew.

"People in the town would have let me know, not directly, indirectly, but in those days you couldn't find out anything."

Image copyright Nicky Bonnes
Image caption Oliver's mother Mary Josephine Brady (front right) became pregnant as a young, single woman

An elderly aunt eventually confirmed Oliver's suspicions to his wife.

He spent years inquiring through churches, trying to find his baptismal records to no avail.

Then last Christmas he decided to treat himself to a subscription to a genealogy website.

Image copyright Nicky Bonnes
Image caption Oliver Bonnes reuniting with family members in America

At first this too seemed fruitless, Oliver joked "not much came out of it, another £40 or £50 down the drain".

But then his son Nicky took up the reins and had a bit more luck.

He made contact with a woman in America who was a strong match as a first cousin and from there they found out Oliver had three half-brothers, as well as much more extended family.

'Brady Bunch'

Lots of the "Brady bunch", as they have termed themselves, live in the US and invited Oliver and Nicky over for a good, old-fashioned, Irish-American hooley.

For Oliver the experience of meeting over 40 of his newest relatives was overwhelming, but "it was marvellous, there were times I was getting pretty choked up about the whole thing".

Oliver says he would encourage anyone who is considering reaching out to try to find family, adding: "It was unbelievable, it really was."

Image copyright Nicky Bonnes

Related Topics