Finding Family, Part Three: The Family We Choose

My sisters faced an unexpected choice: let in this stranger or not?

David Valdes
9 min readOct 17, 2021

Imagine, if you will, that you have lived a half-century without knowing that you have a sibling. Imagine that your parents remained married until the day your beloved father died. And that you and your sister were the apples of his eye, daddy’s girls with no reason to doubt the size of your family.

If you can imagine that, then you can imagine what it would be like to hear thirdhand that some of what you believed about your father wasn’t true. That is exactly what happened to my sisters.

When my aunt said that my newly discovered uncle would tell my older sister Maria Elena the news of my existence, she made a serious marketing error: she overpromised and underdelivered. The closeness of the families didn’t entirely live up to her description; their two households had at one point been estranged and, though that is no longer the case, they were not routinely sharing deep secrets.

Instead of telling my sister, my uncle called her husband and asked him to do it. My brother-in-law didn’t try to sugarcoat it. He just walked into the kitchen where Maria Elena was doing dishes and announced the facts: “You have a brother.”


(When I heard this story later, I couldn’t help but think how I dropped a Fernando bomb on my mother while she stood washing dishes forty years before. Kitchen sinks are…



David Valdes

David Valdes is a Cuban-American author who writes about family, race, and LGBTQ issues. His book Brighter than the Moon releases in January 2023.