First Christmas spent with biological family

PHOTO+COURTESY+OF+MIKE+FRANCHINO

PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE FRANCHINO

By Mike Franchino, Social Media and Advertising Editor

Social Media and Advertising Editor Michael Franchino has been adopted since birth and has known his entire life. He was contacted by his biological siblings, who he was unaware of in the early winter of 2019, and went on to find he was one of fifteen children; with five fully biological and the rest with the same father. His older brother, Austin Ellis, flew from Houston, T.X. to visit over the holidays. 

I’ve always wanted to find the truth, about everything: the workings of the universe, the nature of the mind, what’s moral and immoral – the list goes on and on. I might like to think I know everything sometimes, but the truth is, ironically, that no one really knows. Some might think a God or all-powerful instrumental force is behind the creation of the universe and others rely on science to find a physical, tangible reason for everything, but both sides of the card are just interpretations of the reality we find ourselves in. There are too many perspectives and too many unique individual experiences for me to say that I know the ultimate truth, but I can say I have my own story; and that it’s contributed immensely to my own, personal interpretation of the world.

My biological brother, Austin, came to visit over the holidays, bringing a new perspective and tone to my world I didn’t think would be possible. I’d only ever met him one other time – last spring when I attended his high school graduation. I didn’t even know he existed until a little less than a year ago. The first time we met began a long journey of personal growth and finding my path, and it seems like our time together now has wrapped up everything I needed. Seeing as we think the same, have constant parallel thoughts and he can unlock my iPhone with face identification, it makes a lot of sense why his presence brings so much influence; he’s practically me.

Time seemed to slow down during his stay. There were a thousand thoughts flying through my head every second of every moment. It felt surreal most of the time, and the dreamlike atmosphere filled me with this strong, constant deja vu. There were lots of “I feel like I’m in a movie” moments, and that expression was shared a lot throughout the course of the nine days. We got to spend a lot of quality time with each other and he got a real taste of how my life has been going for the past 18 years.

Austin had a very rough upbringing and had to go through a lot of hardships. Seeing how overjoyed he was at the little things made me realize how often I take things for granted in New Jersey.

One of my main takeaways from the experience is that regardless of what could’ve been, or simply what’s happened in the past, does not define the present. The moment is what it is, and every person has the choice to make it good or make it worse. To lead a good life, perspective is key as well as accepting that you’re where you are because it’s all a part of a greater plan.

I truly do believe a greater power separated us at birth for a reason. Although a life with my brothers and sisters would’ve been beautiful, it’s not how things turned out. Sitting on that idea and letting it soak in is useless, so I just have to move on. Austin and I believe to our core it was just meant to be in order for us to get to where we are. He’s headed into the Navy, and I’m headed for California. We have things we want to do, and we’re going to do them. Regardless of who got spoiled and who had to go through the mud, we came out following our dreams, on our individual destinies. We’re lucky to have found each other, and I’m lucky to be where I am.

I’m not sure how true, unconditional sibling love feels to others. But to me, it’s a feeling that I can’t describe. It’s a bone-chilling, spiritually-enriching passion that comes from the most animal part of myself. The love I felt, and the power of that love, really healed something in me. It brought me to the headspace I always try to be in and did it naturally. There’s truly nothing like it.

Saying goodbye was really difficult, but it left me feeling even better about my life. It gave me hope and helped alleviate some of my worries. It’s really nice not feeling so alone when it feels like the world is against you, and having someone of amazing virtue and character to look up to as a big brother truly has helped. I almost feel like a different person, which sounds generic, but it’s completely true. Austin has opened my eyes to what the world really is.

Before he left he told me to make sure to do what I need to do right now and that the rest is just waiting for me. It’s how I’ve always lived my life, but the optimism fades every now and then. I think now it’s really ingrained in me, and I’m not going to let it go away. I don’t think anyone should let that go away, because passion, at the end of the day, is the only motivator for anything.