Reunited: 5 Easy Ways to Deal with Meeting Long Lost Family

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I have a sister. Her name is Karina. I didn’t know about her for most of my life as we only share the same father. Having only first met her in September of 2013. It was definitely a struggle for me to be reunited with long lost family at the time as I was going through a lot of changes as a young woman.

First, I was starting my sophomore year in college. I had just reconnected with my dad after being distant for so long after my parents’ divorce. (Will share those details in an upcoming post) I knew she existed, but since she lived in New York and I lived in Florida, I really didn’t see her as a threat at all. Also, I had no idea that I was about to meet her.

Reunited: Long Lost Family – Wedding Anniversary

I only knew that we were driving up to South Carolina for my uncle’s wedding anniversary. He wanted his siblings, nieces and nephews all to be present for this occasion.

Early in the morning, we hit the road to South Carolina. We knew it would take about 8 hours to arrive at our destination. I remember sleeping for the first 2 hours of our drive.

Also, I remember the rental car that my dad got was easily the worst rental ever known to man. Yes, we left early, but we had to turn around about an hour into our drive because the rental car was breaking down.

Having gotten a different car, we hit the road again and hopefully for good this time.

Reunited: Long Lost Family – Blindsided

Upon arrival at my uncle’s church (the location of the anniversary), I got pulled aside into a private room by my uncle and he wanted to let me know that my sister would be joining us at the anniversary and that I would be confronting her face to face for the first time ever in 20 minutes.

Immediately, I felt betrayed and blind sided. How could they just think that this was going to be okay??? I excused myself to the rental car and called my mom to express how hurt I was. She reassured me that it was going to be okay and to go into the weekend with an open mind.

Shortly thereafter, my sister arrived with her mother and stepfather. Once again, my uncle brought us back into that same room that he brought me in earlier. My sister and I immediately cried and hugged. I was still very skeptical, but optimistic that everything would be okay.

Amazed by how much we looked alike, I kept my distance from her. I have always been an observant person, so I just let myself observe the way she interacted with other members of my family.

Reunited: Long Lost Family – Day of the Anniversary

The day of the anniversary arrived and my 2 cousins, my sister and I all were going to wear the same dress. We all decided to get ready together. We did each others’ makeup and hair. This bonding time really allowed for my sister and I to get closer and to truly be ourselves.

However, I still felt uncomfortable and weary of where this relationship was going to go. Putting my brave face forward, I got in the car with the rest of my family and we made our way to the church for the ceremony.

My sister, my cousins and I were to be my uncle’s escort down the aisle. The entire ceremony ran smoothly and so did the reception but I still felt awkward being there.

reunited: Long Lost Family - Three siblings smiling at the camera.
Photo of us from that weekend

The next day, we all went to the beach together and once again I stayed to myself because I was so hurt from nobody telling me that she would be there.

We finally drove back home and I felt safe again. The only thing was that we would all be meeting up again in Puerto Rico for my cousin, Vilmarie’s quinceañera in January 2014.

Vilmarie’s Quinceañera

The itinerary was set and I would be arriving in Puerto Rico on a Thursday. Upon arrival, my uncle and dad picked me up from the airport and took me straight to my aunt’s house where everyone else was.

Reunited: Long Lost Family - family posing together in fancy clothes
Us with my cousin in Puerto Rico

There isn’t a whole lot to do in my aunt’s town so we all went and saw the movie Ride Along. In the movie Kevin Hart’s character is saved as “Ass Face” in Ice Cube’s phone. My sister started to call my brother that and my cousin saved his name as that in her phone and I was pissed.

I am very protective of my brother and this set me off! No one was going to call my brother those kinds of names. I swore that my sister would be on my hit list for the rest of the trip.

Reunited: Long Lost Family - group of family standing in front of the movie poster for Ride Along
The Night we watched the movie Ride Along

Reunited: Long Lost Family – Last Day

On our last full day of all being together we went to El Morro in San Juan, and I stayed to myself the entire day. Unless spoken to first, I wouldn’t speak to anyone. I was angry and didn’t want to be around these people for a second longer. I felt like the old chew toy that your dog doesn’t want anymore.

Reunited: Long Lost Family - family hanging out by the pool

This trip also helped me believe that my aunt and uncle were both trying so hard to bend over backward for my sister and I NEVER felt that from them. I felt like I had known these people my ENTIRE LIFE and they were giving her special treatment because she wasn’t part of the family for as long.

I sometimes still feel this way but I get over it pretty quickly because I know it’s them and not me. One day I will be able to tell them how their actions made me feel.

For quite some time, my sister and I would talk occasionally, but overall we’ve pretty much kept our distance and not really communicated until about 4 months ago when we rekindled our relationship.

Rekindling a beautiful friendship

Since we rekindled the relationship, we’ve communicated next to every day. She even started a blog because of me and her first post is about her view about finding out about us. (I will add the link once her post is live!)

This whole process has taught me so much about being open minded and how to deal with this kind of situation. I would like to share some of my tips that helped me through the process of finding out that I have a sister.

5 ways to deal with being reunited with long lost family

1. Take your time

Make sure YOU are comfortable with the situation. You don’t have to rush anything you aren’t fully certain about. Taking it slow doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it makes you strong and a total bad ass.

2. Keep expectations reasonable

Don’t go into the situation expecting to be best friends or to be worst enemies. Make sure that you are going into it with an attitude that is balanced and ready to take what might come your way.

You don’t know this person yet and they don’t know you. Don’t be overbearing, but also don’t be too passive either. Make a plan before your first meeting. How do you want the relationship to turn out? Do you even want to meet them?

3. Share contact information slowly

Like I said in the last point, you don’t have to be best friends right away. You may not even like each other and that’s okay.

You can share your contact when you are comfortable with it. There may be some things that you don’t want them to see right away and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I don’t think I shared my number with my sister until we were in Puerto Rico. I just wasn’t comfortable with her knowing everything about me right away.

4. Remember, you are under no obligation

People who contact you may have an opinion about how you ought to respond. They may or may not tell you what they want. They may be needy, or angry, or in denial. On the other hand, they may be willing to respect your boundaries, and something amazing may be about to happen. You won’t know until you wade into these waters and take the chance. But I want to tell you that the choice is yours. You don’t have to rush into anything that you aren’t ready for.

5. Keep an open mind

The most important point is to keep an open mind! They may be just as nervous as you are and may not know how to engage with you. Keep in mind that they didn’t ask for this situation either. The most constricting thing is your own mind and if you limit your mind you are limiting basically everything in your life. If you want the relationship to blossom, keeping an open mind is key.

Reunited: Long Lost Family – Other Resources

I hope you all enjoyed reading a little bit more about me and my family. Tell me some more about you and yours in the comments! Do you have a situation where you found out about a long lost family member?

If you are having trouble dealing with a difficult family member check out these tips to help you deal with them.

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(11) Comments

  1. Great post, Jackie. I can relate. I have 2 sisters that I found out about many years ago. I have no clue if they even know about me. And I have never met our mutual father.

    Part of me wants to connect…but I am hesitant for many reasons.

    Maybe in time…but I am getting old. Lol.

    I appreciate your insight on this topic.

    1. Jackie Espada says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting!!

      It was definitely hard in the beginning, but we have formed a great friendship.

      Take your time. There’s no rush!

      If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. And if it’s not, that’s okay too. 🤗

  2. Wow, this is such an interesting and complex experience that you’ve been through! I’m so glad you two are on much better terms now, but it still was a bit unfair of your family to spring your meeting on you like that. If you’d had more time to prepare for it you probably would’ve been more comfortable! It’s so interesting to hear what it’s like – I have half-siblings but I grew up with them, I can’t imagine having met new siblings after many years!
    Beth x

    1. Jackie Espada says:

      I think it would’ve been a smoother transition for sure. I’m so glad we have a better relationship and that we are actually friends. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I cannot relate but always very curious how people react in these situations, it sounds as tho you went about it in the right way.

    1. Jackie Espada says:

      Thank you! I think it all turned out for the best 💜

  4. Wow. Blindsided indeed! But, the outcome is awesome. Glad everything worked out in the end and you have something to pass on to others. I’m afraid to say….you do look like sisters!

    1. Jackie Espada says:

      There’s no denying that we are sisters 🤣 im so glad that we can be friends now! Thanks for reading and commenting 💜

  5. Family is everything! I am so glad you finally managed to meet your sister. It’s one of the best feelings ever to meet your long lost family member after ages. (:

    1. Jackie Espada says:

      It has definitely turned out to be a great feeling! So glad I gave her a chance. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. A very tough time for all of us but so glad that you finally decided that it will no longer consume you. I remember having that telephone conversation with you and hearing the hurt in your voice and being all the way over there and me not there to protect you. ;(
    God has a funny way of doing things but so glad that you let him show you that it’s ok to sometimes take a step back and reevaluate.

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