Rhys Williams grew up in Wrexham, U.K., with his mother Karen and her husband — whom Rhys always assumed to be his biological father. When he was 9 years old, however, his mother died, and Rhys’s relatives revealed to him that the man who raised him was not actually his birth father.
It turned out that Rhys’s parents got divorced in the mid-90s after having two children together, and while they were separated, Karen had a relationship with another man and got pregnant. Later, her ex-husband was involved in a serious accident: he was hit by a tram and was in a coma for a long time. After he recovered, Karen went back to him, but they never remarried.
Though Rhys grew up knowing he had siblings and stepsiblings, he wasn’t close with any of them. The brother and sister his mother had with his stepfather were much older than him, and his stepfather had 3 children from a previous marriage. His relationship with his stepfather wasn’t very close, either, despite the fact that Rhys continued living with him after the death of his mother: “I was in the same house with my father, but took care of myself,” he says. “He was the closest thing to a father, though very lacking.”
Over the years, he tried to find information about his biological father, but found nothing.
Then, last year, his girlfriend bought a DNA test for her father as a Christmas gift. He was excited by the idea of the test and decided to purchase one for himself. Unfortunately, the results were not very significant. He reached out to a distant match — a second cousin — to ask if they had any information they could share. This eventually led to distant relatives of that cousin: 3 siblings with the surname Williams, like Rhys, who lived in Wrexham.
Rhys managed to find one of them: a woman named Gwyneira. She turned out to be his paternal aunt — his birth father’s sister. Gwyneira still lives in Wrexham with a huge family, and one of her brothers, Geraint — Rhys’s uncle — lives in Liverpool. Sadly, Rhys’s father, the third sibling Gwilym, passed away in 2017.
Rhys learned that his father, like him, lost his mother at a young age, around 16. The siblings’ mother died of heart failure in her early 30s, and Gwyneira was like a mother to her younger brother Gwilym.
Gwyneira told Rhys that he was not the first person to contact her about Gwilym. Around 15 years prior, a young woman named Jojo contacted her, also looking for her father. Through this information, Rhys discovered 5 paternal half-siblings from 3 different mothers: two live in Australia, two lived in Wrexham and passed away, and his half-sister, Jojo, grew up in Blackpool and now lives in St. Anne’s. Jojo and Catarina have already formed a great long-distance relationship, and the three of them are looking forward to meeting each other.
Rhys finds Chris on MyHeritage
This past December, Rhys learned that he could upload his DNA data to MyHeritage. Since he didn’t receive significant results from the company he originally tested with, it seemed like a good idea. He had also heard that people get better matches in Europe with MyHeritage.
And so it was! Within 6 days of uploading his DNA kit to MyHeritage, Rhys was matched with another half-brother, Chris.
He immediately sent his brother a message via the MyHeritage account, but received no reply. The MyHeritage team saw his Tweet and reached out to see if we could help. Rhys agreed, so our Research team contacted Chris several times until he finally replied: “That’s amazing news and I’ll get in touch for sure.”
Soon after, Rhys wrote to us to let us know that Chris had responded and the brothers were in touch on WhatsApp. “It’s crazy how much we look alike!” he said. He later Tweeted again that he’d just spoken to his brother for 3 hours. “All thanks to MyHeritage for having such an amazing life changing product,” he wrote. “DNA testing is quite literally a life changer.”
The brothers clicked from the moment they first spoke via video chat, and they have been in touch constantly ever since. They keep discovering more and more uncanny similarities between themselves and their father: they are both heavily tattooed, and both have a tattoo of a blue eye; they both love the color purple; they both love cats; and their sense of humor is very similar. Chris also had a workplace accident many years ago that resulted in a serious eye injury, and it turns out that their father also experienced a workplace accident resulting in a serious eye injury — at about the same age, and in the same eye!
Chris was also born in Wrexham as Michael Hooson and was adopted when he was a few months old. He grew up as an only child in Flint, North Wales, about 18 miles from Wrexham. His birth certificate lists his adopted parents and his adopted name: Christopher Michael Jones. His parents gave him his original name as a second name, “which was a nice thing to do.”
Eventually, Chris was able to find his original birth certificate, which listed him as Michael Hooson. He went to London to search the record archives with a friend in a similar situation, and found the address of his birth mother, Brenda Hooson, as well as an electoral register revealing that there was still a Hooson living at that address. Given that it’s not the most common of surnames, especially in Wrexham, he got a solicitor to write and ask if she would be interested in meeting him, and she agreed. They met at a coffee shop in Ruthin, along with her sister and toddler son in a stroller. Chris says they got along pretty well, and after that he sent her a Christmas card every year, but she made no effort to put him in touch with his half-siblings. Apparently, it took 20 years for her sister to finally persuade her to put them in touch. Chris gets along very well with his sister Debbie and brother Dave.
Chris was overjoyed to find Rhys, and says he definitely sees his younger self in his newfound brother.
This May, during Coronation Day weekend, the brothers met in person for the first time: Chris surprised Rhys by showing up during a video interview in his home. Rhys had been told that both he and Chris were being interviewed separately, and couldn’t believe it when Chris walked in! Watch the sweet moment — and enjoy the brotherly banter between the two — in the video below:
“For me it was crazy to meet who is my blood and is older,” says Rhys. “I know I will have a very good hairline in 20 or so years.”
Chris says it would have been nice to have found his brother 20 years ago, but “it is lovely how it has all happened now. I have never had a younger brother. It is a different experience.”
After Chris’s surprise, the brothers went out for dinner and had a lovely meal together.
“If people are hesitant of DNA testing like I was for the longest time, then honestly, just go for it,” says Rhys. “It might be scary, but it’s better to know than not to know.”
We’re deeply grateful to Chris and Rhys for sharing their story with us. If you’ve also made an incredible discovery using MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it! Please send it to us via this form or email us at email@example.com.
The post Welsh Brothers Find Each Other via MyHeritage DNA, and the Similarities Are Uncanny appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.
Source: My Heritage