Brendan White discovers an 18-year-old secret

Brendan+White%2C+Class+of+2018%2C+poses+for+a+senior+picture.
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Brendan White discovers an 18-year-old secret

Brendan White, Class of 2018, poses for a senior picture.

Brendan White, Class of 2018, poses for a senior picture.

IMAGE / Mr. James Wilcox

Brendan White, Class of 2018, poses for a senior picture.

IMAGE / Mr. James Wilcox

IMAGE / Mr. James Wilcox

Brendan White, Class of 2018, poses for a senior picture.

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“I found out the man who is my dad — who I’ve grown up with — is not my biological father,” White said.

This quote seems shocking, almost as if it’s a line from a Hollywood film.

But it is reality for recent graduate Brendan White.

“When I was in eighth grade I found out that my dad was not my biological father,” White said. “My grandma slipped up when talking to me and mentioned an adoption. She seemed surprised I didn’t already know.”

Mixed feelings washed over White and his parents, whom, for their privacy, will not be named in this article.

At the time, White was hurt that he was only just then discovering this secret about his life. As a senior, White said he understood the complexity of his situation and why it was so difficult for his parents to tell him.

How can it be explained to a child that their dad isn’t biologically related to them?

As White got older, his parents found it harder to tear the comfort of the lie out from under him.

“I didn’t ask many questions,” White said.

White didn’t want to upset his parents and, therefore, only researched the man by himself and with his friends. Also due to privacy, White’s biological father will not be named.

When White turned 18, he attempted to find out his biological father’s name.

He visited the 7th Circuit Court in Flint to look at his birth certificate and find out more information about his biological father, but since his dad legally adopted him, a new birth certificate was issued with his dad’s name on it instead.

Finding the old birth certificate turned out to be a long and expensive process. Being during his senior year, White did not have the time or money for this.

White was preparing to give his senior presentation in May and — without any expectations — decided to send an invitation to an address he thought would be his biological father’s.

I was focusing on the end of my senior year, and so I kind of pushed the idea of finding my biological dad to the back of my mind.”

— Brendan White, Class of 2018

Afterward, White’s mom received a phone call a short time later from a woman who said she was married to White’s biological dad. She said she had no idea about Brendan, as her husband had never brought it up.

White said she didn’t seem upset at him or his family but rather shocked by the secret her husband had kept from her. She ended up leaving her husband’s number, saying to call him if White had any questions.

With the end of the school year on the horizon, White decided not to dig more into the mystery until after graduation.

“I was focusing on the end of my senior year, and so I kind of pushed the idea of finding my biological dad to the back of my mind,” White said.

But one weekend in May, White and his girlfriend, recent graduate Rebekah Caudle, went to For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum for a walk. When they were walking they stopped to read a sign about snapping turtles. While reading, a man came up to them, noticing their curiosity, and told them some interesting facts about snapping turtles.

It was a sweet and, overall, insignificant conversation — until White and Caudle recognized the man.

He looked exactly like the profile picture of the man on Facebook who was supposedly White’s biological father.

I suspected he was White’s biological dad when I turned and saw his face. It was insane.”

— Rebekah Caudle, Class of 2018

“The man was really nice,” Caudle said. “He had no idea who we were, but he started conversations up that he thought we might be interested in.

“I suspected he was White’s biological dad when I turned and saw his face. It was insane.”

Intrigued, White and Caudle immediately went to their car and looked up his biological father’s profile on Facebook. The picture was a spitting image of the man they had just encountered.

White quickly dialed the number he was given to get a hold of his biological father. After a few rings, a man answered.

“Hi,” White said. “Weird question, but did you happen to be at For-Mar a few minutes ago?”

The man said he had, in fact, just been at For-Mar, and proceeded to ask White why he asked.

White said, “My name is Brendan White. I think you’re my dad.”

According to White, the man was in good spirits when White broke the news. The man explained to White how he was not in a good place in his life when White was born.

White said his biological father wants to get to know him and spend some time with him. Now that graduation is over, White plans to make time to approach him.

“He asked me to go fishing with him,” White said. “I said I would, but I plan to take a friend with me. I want to get to know him a little bit, but I don’t know if I really want him to be a part of my life now.”

While White is curious, he is still being cautious.

After all, this man was a stranger to him for the last 18 years.

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