Brothers

Mark Ashbrook and Rick Bayne discovered they were brothers after nearly six decades of not knowing one another.

OSGOOD — Rick Bayne thought he had just one sibling for the last 62 years. Last week he discovered he has 16 more.

Bayne was adopted in 1959 at two weeks old by Paul and Jeanette Bayne. Paul was a Methodist minister and Jeanette was a teacher’s aide. When Rick was 9 years old, his parents told him they had adopted him but it was a closed adoption and so it lacked much detail. He described his parents as perfectly sweet and said the information never bothered him. The Baynes had a daughter 12 years older than Rick so he was effectively an only child throughout his adolescence.

Bayne never pursued his biological family for fear of hurting the feelings of his adopted parents. A few weeks ago, Bayne told his wife’s daughter-in-law, Amy Smith, about his adoption. The two decided to order an Ancestry.com DNA kit. A month later, they received the results.

Ancestry.com showed one close female relative who was inactive on the site but Smith was able to contact her via Facebook. Within four hours, Bayne was on the phone with a full-blood brother that he never knew existed. Bayne’s newly discovered brother, Mark Ashbrook, was also adopted shortly after birth and embarked upon the same journey Bayne has found himself on.

“Mark is 59 years old,” Bayne said. “Three years to the day younger than I am. We share the same birth date of June 2nd. I’m 1959 and he’s 1962, and he let me know that we have 15 half-siblings.”

Ashbrook discovered his biological mother and siblings in 1995 and they knew he had another brother. Ashbrook explained to Bayne that he (Ashbrook) and the other siblings had been looking for Bayne for 25 years. He was only a county away from several siblings. Bayne’s wife, Karen, had unknowingly shared a 7th grade class with one of Bayne’s sisters.

“I had been looking [for Bayne] over the years, I knew nothing of Ancestry.com,” Ashbrook said. “I had been questioned at a couple of stores I frequented by shop owners saying, ‘You were just here, why are you back?’ And I would say, ‘No I wasn’t.’ But that gave me hope that my brother was out there.”

There was always a curiosity about his biological family, according to Ashbrook, but he didn’t pursue anything until adulthood when he decided to contact the Indiana Adoption History Registry. Birth parents and adoptees can access each other’s non-identifying, identifying and/or medical history only after the other party has completed at least one of the three categories.

Ashbrook was 36 years old with a wife and children in 1995 and had contacted the register to learn more about his biological family’s medical history. Later, he received a phone call from his ex-wife saying his mom had called for him. But it wasn’t the mother who raised him; it was the one he had never met.

Around noon on August 6, 1995, Ashbrook met his biological mother. He was overwhelmed and said he was surrounded by people. His biological mother had invited many of her friends and family. She told Ashbrook that he had one older, full brother with whom he shared a birthday.

Ashbrook and Bayne were children resulting from an affair and his mother decided to give them up for adoption. Ashbrook said this was truly a blessing because he and his brother both experienced wonderful childhoods.

Their mother raised one daughter and lost custody of at least one other child. She has since passed away and Bayne was never able to meet his biological mother.

The biological father worked in Greensburg in finance. His marriage yielded 13 children and his affair yielded two. He and his wife have both passed away. Neither Ashbrook nor Bayne ever met him, but Ashbrook did find him and arrange a meeting years earlier. His biological father never arrived.

The two brothers share 15 half-siblings. Five of the half-siblings are deceased, but Bayne has been eagerly calling his other siblings. Bayne and Ashbrook have called each other daily since they found each other. They have the same hands, the same size shoes, the same nose and the same eyes. Ashbrook said that all 15 children plus their biological father have hazel eyes.

Ashbrook said it’s hard to have a bad day since finding his brother. He hopes to spend more time with Bayne and his children and grandchildren after retiring.

“We’ve started referring to September 23rd as our rebirth day, because that’s when we found each other,” Bayne said.

Josie Clark: josie.clark@greensburgdailynews.com or 812-651-0873.

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