This is an article about the importance of family and its special love and connection. With the rise of social media, there must have been lots of these stories, though this is Troy, New York. It is an amazing journey! Maybe this story will encourage other adopted people to search and find their birth family to help them complete the circle of life. Thanks, Katie!
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Glens Falls man gets birth family reunion 45 years after he was born
Updated: 12/01/2015 5:05 PM
Created: 12/01/2015 3:43 PM WNYT.com
GLENS FALLS and WYNANTSKILL – Jeff Purner lived happily for more than 40 years knowing he was adopted.
His adoptive parents, Frank and Joan Purner, loved and cared for him like he was their own flesh and blood.
“There was never a time I didn’t know. I was fine with that. I had great parents,” Purner said during a conversation on a couch in his Glens Falls home.
But he always wondered about his birth parents.
A couple years after his adoptive parents passed away, Purner sent away to Massachusetts for his birth certificate.
It listed his mother’s name, but it was so common—Lynn Patricia Smith— it didn’t help him much. He repeatedly searched the internet, but came up with nothing and was nearly convinced that it wasn’t going to happen.
Until one day last year, after finishing his morning prayers, he decided to search again.
And this time a bittersweet result: His mother’s obituary. Thankful to find out who she was. Sad to never have the chance to talk to her.
“If the only thing I got out of this was a two-minute phone conversation where I said, ‘Thanks for choosing life because I wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. And if you ever wondered how it turned out, it all turned out okay.'”
But it didn’t end there. That obituary offered more clues about his family. It said his mother married a man named Alfred Deeb and they had nine children and lived in Wynantskill.
He wondered if Deeb could be his father too. He searched Facebook for the Deeb name and found a photo of seven men that struck him immediately.
“That’s what did it,” Purner said. “It was a photo of my seven brothers at one of their bachelor parties in Boston. I’m looking at each one and I’m like ‘Oh my goodness, they’re my brothers.'”
Now he was eager to find out more, but not sure their father was his father. He drove to Wynantskill from his home in Glens Falls, and knocked on Alfred Deeb’s door, not knowing what he’d say if anyone answered.
And no one did answer, so Jeff did another internet search and found there was an Al Deeb who managed the well-known Jack’s Drive In in Wynantskill.
So he went there, looking for the man he believed to be his father. He talked to an employee he found out was his cousin and asked him to put him in touch with Alfred Deeb.
“I made a joke saying ‘Are you going to tell me you’re his son or something. And he said, ‘Well, actually,'” Albert Deeb recalled while standing inside the kitchen at Jack’s.
Albert Deeb made a few phone calls and eventually got Alfred Deeb on the phone and handed it to Jeff.
“And he says, so you think you’re my son? I said, well, here’s what I know. I was born in Berkshire Medical Center, my mother was Lynn Patricia Smith. He said what year, I said 1969. What day? That’s easy. April 7th.”
Alfred Deeb gets choked up as he continues recounting the story of that first phone call. “I said yesterday was your birthday Jeff because I prayed for you yesterday like I have through all the years.
Alfred Deeb was just 18. Lynn Smith was 17 when she was sent to Massachusetts to give birth and give him up. They were both heartbroken because their church ordered them to stay away from each other.
But their love was too strong. A couple years later, they married. And went on to have nine more children. None of them knowing about their brother who came before them.
Until the day after Jeff’s 45th birthday, when Al Deeb told them all, most of them via a conference call.
“You have a brother. And your mom and I had a child outside of marriage.”
Sunday dinners were suddenly more crowded. It took 45 years for this reunion but it seemed to happen overnight.
All of the family has eagerly embraced Jeff, his wife, Nicole, and their children.
“Happily ever after,” says Brian Deeb, who was the oldest child until Jeff came along. “They’re going to be part of the family for longer than they weren’t.”
Jeff Purner was raised in Latham, just a few miles from where the Deebs lived and many of them worked. He smiles thinking about the prospect that they may have crossed paths and never knew it.
“There were so many instances where I was under their nose.”
If this were a Hollywood script, Jeff and his mom would’ve had the chance to meet each other before breast cancer took her life in 2007. But he’s comforted knowing each of his siblings is a reflection of her.
“They’re the most amazing people with hearts that are so big. They’re a living tribute to her.”
And he’s convinced that it was his mother who orchestrated this reunion from her place in Heaven.
“As I was told, my mother insisted on seeing me the next day (after he was born). And if you do the math, that’s 45 years to the day that I was brought back to the family.