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Man who grew up in a children's home meets his sister for the first time at the age of 81

'Fate was there and gave me another chance—I'll take it with both hands,' the 81-year-old said.

Man who grew up in a children's home meets his sister for the first time at the age of 81
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Ronnie Kaufman

An 81-year-old man traveled 18 hours to meet the sister he only recently found out about. John Ellis, from North Walsham in Norfolk, England, flew all the way to Las Vegas this week to meet his 79-year-old sister, Shirley Jones. According to BBC, Ellis grew up in a children's home and only discovered in March this year that he had four younger siblings. He may have never known of their existence if his siblings hadn't contacted a website for adopted people to trace their family trees. Jones said it was a "shock" when he received a letter from the genealogy website, informing him he had such a big family.


Although Ellis had been placed in the children's home with his oldest sister and was aware he had one younger sister, the elderly gentleman said he didn't have the faintest clue about any other brothers or sisters. Soon after realizing he had a bigger family than he'd originally imagined, Ellis visited Nuneaton in the Midlands this year to see his other siblings. However, he had to wait a bit longer to arrange travel plans to finally meet his sister, Jones, as she had moved to America after marrying a U.S. serviceman seconded to the former USAF Sculthorpe base in Norfolk.


"My sister used to come over to England and go to the telephone boxes to see if there were any Ellisses in the phone book and she never did [find me]. Me and the wife were always ex-directory," Ellis said. "Fate was there and gave me another chance—I'll take it with both hands." Jones was waiting at the airport in Las Vegas to meet her long-lost brother for the very first time this week. Although they've spoken to each other every week since being contacted by the genealogy website, the siblings said it meant "everything" to finally meet and hold each other in a warm embrace.


"I've waited a lifetime for that," Ellis said of getting the chance to hug her brother. She was accompanied to the emotional meeting by her daughter, who also embraced Ellis and greeted him as "Uncle John." As the brother-sister pair walked out of the airport arm-in-arm, Ellis said: "When we found out... we were over the moon." News of the siblings' reunion warmed hearts on social media, with one Twitter user sharing: "Six years ago my brother Frankie found me after a 50-year search. Overnight my family grew substantially and the love, oh, the love. I’m so fortunate and thank the universe."


This isn't the first time a genealogy website has helped reunite families who never knew of the existence of their siblings or other blood relatives. Late last year, we brought to you the story of Linda Hoffman and Harriet Carter who connected by chance after both signed up for an account on Hoffman revealed that her parents never mentioned to her that she had a sibling and ended up taking their secret to the grave with them when they died decades ago. "I think we found each other when we were supposed to," Hoffman said. Carter agreed, adding: "Everything happens when it's supposed to anyway."

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