Finding His Family At Age 61

After decades of separation, Brett Bell and his biological siblings are happy to be back together.

Denalee Chapman May 02, 2016
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Brett Bell is 61 years old and still trying to put together the pieces of his life. When he was just a toddler, Brett was removed from his home because of neglect. He doesn’t remember any of his early years and feels blessed to have his family. His adoptive parents are Caucasian and Brett is Hispanic, but the difference never seemed to matter to him or to his family. His was a loving family and Brett’s life has been good.

But a good life doesn’t mean there are no questions. Brett was raised not far from where he lived with his birth family the first 2 ½ years of his life. But when the time came that he decided to search for his birth family, he met with dead ends everywhere. Birth records being sealed, Brett didn’t know where to turn. When a friend suggested looking at Catholic Church records in the area, Brett finally found some success. His persistent detective work and the kindness of one tender-hearted nun eventually led Brett to his brother.

The reunion with Brett’s brother, who is ten years older than Brett, was a tender one. Brett had no idea that any of his birth family was searching for him, but when his older brother recounted being present when Brett was removed from the home, tears streamed down everyone’s faces.

Brett was born Manuel Maestas and was the sixth of ten children. His brother remembers standing in the doorway as Brett was taken away and crying with all the tears that live in a little boy. He was afraid he would never see his brother again. And he didn’t . . . for decades. But while Brett was searching for any information about his birth family, his brother was also searching. So when Brett showed up on his doorstep, he was a welcome sight, indeed!

Searches and reunions can be frustrating and even heartbreaking.  But it seems that, even in this case, the pendulum swings both ways. The exhilaration, relief, peace, and excitement are as great as the frustration, concern, worry, and fear. In Brett’s case, the result has been sheer joy! You can see it on his face in the photo above (far right), where he’s pictured with three of his newly-found siblings.

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Denalee Chapman

Denalee is an adoptive mother, a motivational speaker, a writer, and a lover of life. She and her husband have adventured through the hills and valleys of life to find that the highest highs and the lowest lows are equally fulfilling. Book Denalee to speak to your group, or find Denalee's writings, including her books on her website at

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