I wanted to share with you my reason for changing my writing name. I was born Sarah Holmes and after my marriage became Sarah Seaton. Three years ago I did an Ancestry DNA test to reveal my ancestral origins. As an historian, especially a family historian, I thought it could help me to confirm my lines of inheritance. What it revealed to me was something that took me on a whirlwind emotional journey that changed the very fabric of who I am...
Checking my DNA results against DNA matches revealed (or rather didn't reveal) any of my father's relatives whom I knew had already taken the test. I then had a feeling that perhaps my grandfather was not my dad's biological parent so tried to have a look at my matches to see if they supported this theory. It was difficult to work out. So I uploaded my DNA to My Heritage and other websites who accepted my Ancestry results for free. Instantly My Heritage gave me a close cousin, a girl named Tiffany. I looked at Tiffany's family tree but didn't recognise anyone on it. I messaged her but she couldn't really help as we had no idea how we connected.
I decided to test my brother John Holmes, who looked just like my dad (Dave Holmes), and my mum Georgina who was still with us at that point (my dad had already passed). It was an agonising wait for the results, but when they came back I was shocked!
John was my half-brother! I contacted my mum for an explanation but unfortunately she wouldn't give one, insisting that my dad was my real dad!
Now I knew that the family history I was so enwrapped within from childhood was no longer my own. I knew that I belonged somewhere on Tiffany's tree so I returned to look there. Through DNA matches, I worked out who my grandparents were, Alf and Gladys Francis. I contacted Tiffany again and she said she would put me in touch with her mum Kelly. You can meet Tiffany here https://www.starnow.co.uk/tiffanyhunt2/ She is an award winning make-up artist.
Kelly (born Francis) was estranged from her own father but put me in touch with her uncle Darren Francis. Darren lived locally and promised to find out who my father was. He advised that everyone from that generation had already passed, except for one, so the likelihood of my father being alive wasn't a possibility. There had been seventeen children in the family, so this was a huge task and I didn't have any confidence in finding the truth. I sent Darren a family tree showing me as a baby, my mum and an 'unknown Francis' as my father and continued with life.
One week later, whilst I was holidaying at Port Stewart in Northern Ireland, I got a phone call from Darren about 10pm in the evening. He said he had found out who my father was. I was sceptical. He told me my dad's widow was with him and would like to speak with me. What she told me completely blew my mind!
She told me that Darren had been very naughty. He had shown her the Francis tree that I had sent him without saying anything about me or my mum but as soon as she saw my mum's name and me, she knew that I was her Brian's daughter! My dad (Brian) told her many years ago that one of the loves of his life was a Georgina Bettaney. They dated. Then one day she disappeared. The next time he saw her, she was with her husband (my dad Dave) and me. He took one look at me and knew I was his daughter! Following this Brian went to my aunt's house to find out where we were, but my aunt and uncle had left that house (the police house in Broxtowe - and where I was conceived). The new 'bobby informed my aunt he had come looking. Then my other aunt who still lived at home with my maternal grandparents recalls a woman coming to the door to ask about the baby girl. This was probably one of my dad's sisters. Perhaps he had already called himself and got nowhere, one can only assume. Cathy (my dad's wife), told me that he would have been very proud of everything I had achieved and that I had two brothers! I already had four brothers! That then made six! I felt like Snow White with her seven dwarves! Ha ha. Cathy asked if I would like to speak to one of them and so, the following day, I spoke with my brother Andrew for the very first time!
We spoke for over an hour, the conversation flowed and there were no awkward moments. Andrew said as soon as he saw my picture, he knew I was his sister! I looked like him and his daughter Kezia. Personally, I couldn't see it. I said I didn't want to meet my 'brothers' until we had done a DNA test confirming the fact. I didn't want to build relationships to find out they were based on false information. I offered to pay, but Andrew declined. He sent off straightaway for a test and we waited for about five weeks before the results were in.
On my return from Northern Ireland, I met up with Darren (my cousin) and Cathy (my step-mum) at Patchings Farm Art Centre cafe in Calverton. Both Cathy and I cried a lot, me for the dad (Dave) that I felt I had lost for a second time, and for Brian, the dad I had never known but who recognised me at first sight (I can't tell you how much this meant to me!). And Cathy for the husband she had lost but had a little bit of him sitting next to her! Cathy gave me my dad's pens (he used to do the crossword every day) as she knew I was a writer. Such a thoughtful gift! I went on to visit Cathy regularly at her home (which was where she lived with my dad Brian). She still had his ashes and gave me some of them, again so thoughtful. Cathy told me lots of stories about my dad and helped me to know/understand him, for which I will be forever grateful. The picture above is my dad Brian Geoffrey Francis 22/10/1942 - 22/11/2014. Finally the results of the DNA test were in!
I got a text from Andrew saying the results are in sis! And YES we were siblings! I couldn't put off meeting my new brothers anymore and we arranged to meet up on a Monday night at The Bridge Inn at Oxton. Andrew only lived in the next town to me, Stefan, a little further. It was a fabulous evening, we all talked a lot, and laughed a lot. We got on amazingly. Stefan pointed out that Andrew and I looked so alike, he felt left out! We even had the same hands! It was bizarre and amazing, and one night I will never forget!
The reason I am writing as S L Francis is in honour of Brian Francis, my biological father, who was denied access to me. A man who would have been my father given the chance. He was a lover of crime fiction and I have tried to do him Justice in my books. I may never know you, but for my whole life, I carried you with me. I am fifty per cent of you dad, every time I look in the mirror I see you now. Before I saw no-one, because I didn't resemble anyone except my mother Georgina, who left me when I was six years old to be raised by my dad Dave. Dad (Dave) who did his very best raising three children on his own, myself, John (aged three) and Steffan (18 months). Yes, you read that correctly! I have two brothers named Stef/fan now. My mum saw my dad Brian again as bizarrely, we lived on the next street to each other for a short while. Mum saw him doing his gardening and my two brothers were playing out there and she must have found out one of them was called Stefan. She INSISTED that her third child was called Steffan sometime later! Go figure!
Images below are myself and Andrew, Andrew and I at the same age and Stefan and I.