A Bittersweet Reunion: The Troubling Past Of A Birth Father And The Beauty Of Finding Siblings

Frank L. Christlieb, a multi-platform copy editor for the Dallas Morning News, was in college at Texas A&M when he found out through his mother that he had been adopted. He wasn’t all that surprised, as he didn’t look at all like the family who had adopted him. In 2005, after a falling out with his adoptive father and brother, he began to search for his biological family.

Through a great deal of internet searching and a host of local public records, he figured out that his birth mother was a woman named Betty Workman and that she had died 13 years earlier. At the hospital when he was born, she had listed herself as Mrs. Richard Williams. As it turned out, that was not completely true; those were the initials of Christlieb’s father, but it was not his true name. A DNA test confirmed that his birth father had been Betty’s ex-husband, Robert Workman. He had fathered two other sons and a daughter with her during their marriage, and Christlieb had the opportunity to meet them later in 2005. They helped him gain a better picture of the man who, under different circumstances, would have been his father.

Robert’s lifetime of alcohol abuse and drunken conduct had plagued their family life and ultimately contributed to his death. The alcoholism was no doubt a contributing factor in his molestation of his oldest son. On July 2, 1962, the body of Robert Workman was recovered from the Davis Shipping channel. It had been in the water for over 24 hours. A drunken brawl on the Fortune Street Bridge ended when he was thrown into the water. Although there was much in his life for his children to be upset or angry about, they tell a tale of love and forgiveness.

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