Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper has a whole new understanding of family after meeting his biological siblings.
Napper was given up for adoption when he was a baby and was adopted in 1946 by his parents. He always knew he was adopted, but wasn’t curious about his biological family until much later in life. His mother encouraged him to find out why he had been given up and to find his siblings, but he waited.
‘I had such a wonderful life with my adoptive parents I would never ever look until they passed on,” says Napper. “I was very happy, I had an older sister and she had six children – there were always kids around that were my age. I had a wonderful grandfather…my mother was the strongest woman I’ve ever known.”
But Napper’s family passed away, so when the province opened up adoption records several years ago, he began looking. With the help of several people involved in geneology and armed with his birth name –Ronald James Mackenzie – he was able to find out a few things.
“We came very close they found where my mother lived on Proctor Street and the trail ended there; so I kind of given up until I got the call on Friday night.”
That call was from Maggie Peters, a friend of Patty Brain and Robert Mackenzie. She had been looking for their long-lost brother for some time and went to the on-line paper The Lambton Shield with the story. One of Napper’s friends saw the story and called him Friday.
On Family Day, Napper met the pair for the first time since he was given up as a young boy.
“I’d always known I had a brother and sister,” he says, adding he felt prepared to meet them right away. “I had no memories but they had something taken away from them and they have memories of it.
But several days afterward, Napper still couldn’t describe the feeling of meeting them for the first time adequately. “I can’t describe it. I had myself pretty much prepared.” Napper was in a room at Sumac Lodge where Brain and Mackenzie live when they were introduced.
“It just come natural there was just that one moment when they said this is your brother. He just jumped up you knew it was something they’d been looking for for a long time.
“It was very emotional but once you got past that, it seemed like I’d known them forever it was the funniest feeling.”
Napper talked to Brain and Mackenzie for several hours, talking about how they were raised and his life with the Nappers and the mother he never really knew.
And they were able to answer the why question – why his mother would give him up. It turned out the 22 year old had a marriage proposal but the prospective husband didn’t want three children – so the young woman gave up the baby of the family. And Napper says everything worked out for the best.
“I didn’t know why – I was just given up for adoption, I always said I wasn’t wanted,” he says. “Once I found out why I think it was the greatest decision she made in her life…little did she know the impact that she made on other people’s lives. I loved my parents…they gave me everything in the world.
“She had to make a tough decision and she had to make a good decision,” says Napper adding he believes everything happens for a reason. “She fulfilled the dreams of my adopt parents…they’d just lost two boys in a terrible truck accident one was 18 and one was eight they were both burned to death …they were looking to fill a void.”
Napper says he left the meeting feeling very blessed to have been adopted by his family. “I always respected my family I don’t know if I was that grateful at the time…I can see now the sacrifices they made. I come away from that thinking it was a damn good life I’ve had.”
And Napper has a message for people looking for their parents: “If your actively looking for someone it just takes that one phone call.”