Central Okanagan  

OK siblings meet after 60 years

Don Bone and Wendy Emerson sit across from each other looking over family photos, arguing like brother and sister over whose who in the pictures.

The fact is they sound like brother and sister, they look like brother and sister and they are definitely related, but a year ago they were merely strangers.

Brought together by Emerson's determination, the two met for the first time after being born to the same mother and perhaps the same father in Alberta, some 60 years ago.

Emerson had grown up with her half sister and adoptive parents on Vancouver Island, and says she lived in a happy home, but always knowing she had other family out there.

In 1984, Emerson took action and called an Alberta adoptive agency to track down her real mother, believing she might have a sibling or two.

"You don't feel complete for one thing, you are always looking at people wondering if they are your relatives," says Emerson of the search for her family.

After 30 years, Emerson finally tracked down her mother, Leona Rose LeBlanc and her supposed father Howard Bone. They had divorced in 1944, but it is believed they stayed in touch and conceived several more children together.

Howard Bone had five children with his second wife, but more interesting to Emerson were Bone's two son's he conceived with Emerson's mother while they were still married.

At the beginning of 2011 Emerson picked up the phone and called the man she believed to be her brother, Donald Bone, who was living in Armstrong, BC.

Don (Donald) Bone says it took him three days to call Emerson back.

"Well I am very skeptical of people calling and saying I have a plan for you, I'm your mother I'm your grandmother, can you lend me some money. I figured it was just a scam, so I didn't even answer the phone, but as it turns out as she said she is my sister."

As proof of her identity Emerson sent all the information she had uncovered along with some photos of herself.  Bone says as soon as he saw the picture of Emerson he knew who she was -- she looked just like Bone's grandmother.

However it was not just the photos that convinced Bone of Emerson's identity. Ten years earlier another woman, named Carol had contacted Bone, claiming to be his sister.

Carol had also been born to Howard Bone and Leona LeBlanc, but was adopted to a family in the United States.

Emerson was delighted to find out she too could be related to Carol, but it nagged on Emerson's conscious to find Don's brother Harry. 

Don and Harry were separated when Don was six, while they were living in an orphanage. Don went to live with his real father Howard and his new family, while no one knew what happened to Harry.

Emerson once again went to work, searching for another sibiling.

"I phoned him and told him I might have found Harry, but I wasn't quite sure. So we both said at the same time let's go to Facebook," explained Emerson.

Through several connections Emerson had managed to track down Harry.  The four met together for the first time in Denver back in the spring of 2011.

"I mean I have always wanted a big brother, so I found two big brothers and I mean I thought I was only going to find one and I found two and a big sister," exclaims Emerson of her new found family.

"We are just getting to know each other and forget the part where we were strangers for 60 years," says Bone.

Although the four have connected it's Bone and Emerson who remain the closest as Emerson lives just a few hours away, in Grand Forks.

"We are of the same character," notes Bone, as Emerson nods in agreement.

"I don't feel like he's been out of my life all these years, we don't get mad at each other, we have a connection," she says.

"We don't feel like strangers," adds Bone

Since the two have met, they also discovered there are three more siblings out there. Emerson says she is continuing to look, despite the many blockades from the Alberta adoptive agency, for two brothers: one born in 1941 the other in 1948 and a sister born in 1943.

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