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‘Our family is finally complete,’ says Pictou-born woman reunited with brother

Kathy Ahmad and her brother John were able to reunite in February after more than 50 years apart.
Kathy Ahmad and her brother John were able to reunite in February after more than 50 years apart. - Contributed

Kathy Ahmad’s heart is whole again.

In February she got to meet, face to face, with the brother she had been separated from in childhood.

Ahmad’s story was first made public in November 2018, when she shared with The News about her more than 50-year search for her brother John Tanner. The story was spread in other Saltwire Network- owned newspapers and was picked up by other media.

Born in Pictou, Ahmad and Tanner had always been close and even after they were placed into foster care in Pictou County, the two found a way to connect, Ahmad had told The News. Both their foster families attended the same church on Sundays and afterward the siblings would find their way to each other and play.

But in 1962 when Ahmad was about 10 years old, a family living in Toledo, Ohio adopted her. Her brother, unfortunately, couldn’t come and all she left with was a photo of him taken the day they were separated. It stayed with her for decades.

As happy as she was with her new family, Ahmad missed her brother. But despite everything she tried, she couldn’t find him. She had even hired a private investigator and tried unsuccessfully to get information through the province.

It was the telling of her story in newspapers that eventually worked to reunite them. About a week after The News published Ahmad’s story, her brother made contact with Saltwire Media, which owns The News, to say he thought he was the person she was looking for. His adoptive brother’s wife had seen the article in Halifax and connected it.

Tanner had grown up with a family in the Halifax area, and was living in New Brunswick. On Nov. 22, 2018, they had the chance to talk for the first time and the conversation hasn’t stopped.

“Even though we are still separated by 1,300 miles, we are in touch daily still, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and throughout the day,” says Ahmad. “We have watched long distance hockey games together, and talked on the phone for four and a half hours one day.”

Both felt the strong childhood bonds from the very first conversation, but it strengthened even more at their face-to-face reunion which they were finally able to achieve in February.
“Our reunion was absolutely amazing.”

There were some delays along the route and a missed connecting flight, but Ahmad finally arrived at 2 a.m. one morning in Moncton.

“John and his family were there with flowers and Canadian flags in hand to meet me. John's adoptive brother Clyde, and wife Betty, who had original seen (The News) article in Halifax and contacted John, drove to Moncton from Halifax to surprise us all,” she said.

A photographer friend of the family drove up from Saint John to videotape the reunion.

“Everyone was emotionally and physically exhausted by 2 a.m. when I landed, but it was a very loving, wonderful, exciting reunion,” she said. “John's family could not have been more welcoming or loving.“

She was able to spend a week with them and travelled to meet extended biological family.

“The weather was frigid, winds blistering cold, but our hearts full and warm. Needless to say, it was a very emotional experience for both of us, particularly John who was meeting everyone for the first time in 56 years. Our family is finally complete.”
Ahmad is back at her home in the U.S. now but still the conversations continue.

She and Tanner still have some closure to find as they deal with the past, but now she says they have each other to lean on for support on those difficult days.
“The more we talk, the more we remember. Both our lives have been changed forever again with our reunion and we are looking forward to many visits in the future.”
She encourages other people who have been adopted and want to reunite with biological family not to give up.

“Keep asking questions and keep searching,” she says.

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