When it came to tracking down his long-lost brother, Stewart Oaks reckoned that many hands were better than one. So, he stuck a picture on Facebook in the hope that someone might be able to help. However, probably the last thing he expected was to discover that his sibling lived just a couple of miles away.
Stewart Oaks grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He graduated from the city’s Washington High School before settling in the area to raise a family. Adopted as a child, Oaks knew that he had a younger brother, though sadly that was pretty much all he knew. Other details about his long-lost sibling were sketchy to say the least.
Actually, all Oaks really knew was that his younger brother was born on August 7, 1960. With a six-year age gap between them, the brothers had been apart for 57 years when Oaks decided to do something about it. During this time, Oaks had often wondered what had become of his sibling. It was likely an odd feeling, as Oaks himself said, “Knowing that I had a brother somewhere, but not knowing where or how or anything like that.”
As a matter of fact, over the years Oaks had considered looking for his long-lost brother. However, something had always made him hesitate before making that vital first move. “My biggest fear at that time,” Oaks told KSFY, “was that he didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
However, Oaks’ family finally persuaded him to start searching for his brother, if only to get answers to the questions he’d been asking for so many years. And luckily, Oaks’ daughter had a good idea of how to go about it. “She said, ‘Let’s make a poster,’” Oaks explained to KSFY, “‘and just put it out there on Facebook and see what happens.’”
So, that’s exactly what the older brother did. With a big piece of card and some different colored marker pens, Oaks created a poster that he hoped would help locate his sibling. His family subsequently took a picture of him holding the sign. “Looking for [a] male,” it read, “born in Sioux Falls, SD, August 7, 1960. Please share.” Then, they posted the photo on Facebook.
Barely 48 hours after uploading the picture, Oaks’ plea had been shared more than 6,500 times. And one of those shares brought it to the attention of his missing sibling, Mark Payne. Amazingly, after more than 50 years apart, it had taken just two days for the two men to move that little bit closer together.
Meanwhile, when Payne came across the image, he was sure that it was his older brother. He explained to KSFY, “It didn’t have his eyes, it had it from like his mouth down, and I looked at that, and I said, ‘I see that every morning in the mirror when I get ready for work.’”
Payne, too, had always thought he had a brother someplace – he just didn’t know where. “Whenever I thought about it, I imagined across the world, miles apart, states apart, continents apart, I really didn’t know,” he told KSFY. “But I never would have imagined that we were both here in Sioux Falls this whole time. Almost our entire lives, we were probably no more than two miles away from each other, the whole time.”
Even more surprisingly, it turned out that both of their adoptive fathers worked in the same place, at the Sioux Falls VA hospital. “They had to have known each other,” Payne told KSFY, “[I] just don’t think they ever would have had the discussion or made the connection or anything like that.”
Luckily, after all these years apart, the men finally made the connection for themselves and the siblings reunited at last. Now, they are building new relationships with their newly acquired relatives, as Oaks explained to KSFY. “We’re enjoying our journeying,” he said, “enjoying getting to know each other and our families together.”
And their families have spotted some very telling similarities in the brothers’ behaviour and mannerisms. Payne told KSFY, “My kids and wife said, ‘If you don’t think that’s your brother you’re crazy because you’re doing the same thing.’” The younger brother’s family were referring here to how both men gesticulate wildly when they talk.
Oaks’ family also noticed this amusing family trait, and the older of the brothers joked about their exaggerated hand gestures. He added in their interview with KSFY, “Two of my kids said the same thing, ‘He talks with his hands just like you do, stay out of their way.’”
In fact, even just talking on the phone highlights one of their most noticeable matching habits. Payne explained that because their voices are so similar, “When we talk on the phone I feel like I’m talking to myself.” Explaining these similarities, Oaks added, “Biologically, there are some things you can’t change.”
As it happens, separate adoptive families raised each of the biological siblings, while the brothers also attended different high schools. Despite this though, the pair don’t just look and sound alike, but they also have plenty of common interests, too. “We both ran track,” Payne told KSFY. “He loves basketball, I played a lot of basketball. We both high jumped in high school.”
Moreover, the brothers do concede that their paths may have crossed in the past without them even realizing. However, as far they are aware, they’d never met before Oaks got the ball rolling with his Facebook post in summer 2017. And over the next few years they can look forward to discovering even more about themselves and their families.
The story of Oaks and Payne finding one another using Facebook is actually not the first time that social media has played a part in such family matters. Kieron Graham, a student at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, is another who was adopted as a baby. And, despite being proud of his adoptive status, Kieron wanted to know more about his biological background.
So, to find out more about his birth family, Kieron took an Ancestry DNA test. And when the results revealed that a man called Vincent was his brother, Kieron reached out to his sibling. Consequently, he messaged him on Facebook, and the pair arranged to meet up at a nearby tea bar.
Furthermore, on meeting his brother, Kieron soon found out they had a lot more than just genes in common. Incredibly, it transpired that they went to the same university and even declared the same major – political science. What’s more, the students even had classes in the same building so had likely walked past one another on multiple occasions without ever realizing their connection.
Unsurprisingly, Kieron was over the moon to discover his biological brother. “Meeting him was a surreal, amazing experience that I will cherish forever,” he told Babble. Since then, Kieron has also linked with his biological parents and several other siblings. As for his hopes for the future, he added, “I hope we can all grow closer together after missing out on 20 years of life.”