Reunion with long-lost brother thrills Jackson woman
Wednesday, January 2, 2002
By Dave Hoger
Brother who was adopted out at 2 years old now is a truck driver living in Houston.
Being a Jehovah's Witness, Cida Trusty of Jackson doesn't celebrate Christmas.
But "presents I enjoy getting," she said, with a laugh.
None have meant more than the one she received when her phone rang Dec. 22. It was the brother she had not seen or heard from in more than 36 years.
"I'm just thrilled. But it's kind of bittersweet because we've missed so much," said Trusty, 56, clutching the arm of her brother, James Lewis Bailey, while the two sat on the couch in the living room of her home on Plymouth Street on Monday afternoon.
"Thirty-six years is a long time ... a real long time."
That frustration was compounded by the fact that Bailey, 39, a truck and limo driver now living in Houston, figures he came within a few miles of his sister's house on several occasions while driving a big rig along I-94.
"I feel cheated after all these years, especially being a truck driver going up and down the highway," said Bailey. "I came so close (to her), yet I was so far away. A lot of my years were wasted."
It wasn't until a few weeks ago that Trusty, a native of Brazil, had any idea where her younger brother was, though she had never given up trying to find him.
She received a letter from Jean Bailey, the missionary who adopted Bailey when he was 2. Even in the letter, Trusty said, the woman "never mentioned a word about" her brother.
Nevertheless, Trusty wrote back, with her phone number and address. Jean Bailey, in turn, sent the information to her adopted son.
A few days later, Trusty received a call from her long-lost brother.
Trusty and Bailey were finally reunited Sunday at Metro Airport in Detroit, where Trusty's husband, Tone, and children got to meet their brother-in-law and uncle for the first time.
It was while their family lived in Brazil that Trusty, Bailey and their eight brothers and sisters (one has since died) were involuntarily separated. Their mother died when Bailey was barely a year old and Trusty was 19.
Their father, a sharecropper, was unable to care for the 10 children, so the younger ones were scattered among orphanages and missions. Bailey was 2 when he was adopted by missionaries Jean Bailey and Lucille Stewart "and he disappeared," Trusty said. "We hadn't seen him since."
While Bailey was moving from Brazil to the Philippines to Oklahoma and finally to Houston, Trusty and her family never stopped looking for him. They searched the Internet, called all over the country, even tried to contact TV talk shows in hopes of finding him.
Trusty, who moved to Jackson 36 years ago because her husband had friends here, and Bailey are the only members of the family living in the United States. Their brothers and sisters still live in Brazil, where all were born.
Bailey doesn't hold any animosity toward his adoptive mother. But Trusty isn't so forgiving.
"She always knew that we were in Michigan," Trusty said. "She kept him away from us; a cruel thing, but she kept him away from his family. They knew that our father died in 1987. But he never knew about it."
"People didn't find my mom," said Bailey, pulling from his wallet the letter his mother sent him with his sister's phone number and address.
"I can't really get mad," he added. "I don't know who to get mad at. It's kind of like water under the bridge."
Still, Bailey had fun with his sister and her family once his plane touched down in Detroit. "Just to be funny," he had given them three or four different descriptions of himself. So "we were looking for a kind of heavy-set guy with no hair," recalls Trusty.
Instead, Bailey was dressed all in black, with his black limo driver's hat, because "I didn't have time to change into jeans." Though the family was holding a sign with his name on it while waiting at the terminal, he at first walked right past them.
"Just a test," Bailey said, chuckling. "I wanted to see how well they were paying attention."
-- Reach reporter Dave Hoger at email@example.com or 768-4971.