UNA Student unites with long-lost sister

Emmeline Rochester Volunteer Writer [email protected]

How would you react to finding out that you have a sibling you never knew about? Would you be welcoming or not so much? For University of North Alabama sophomore Courtney Brown, this hypothetical situation became her reality.

About three years ago, Brown’s life changed forever when she went from only having one sibling in the house to discovering that she was no longer the oldest child in her family anymore.

“It was weird,” Brown said. “I already kind of knew.”

Brown said she found letters to a girl named Ashley Devine growing up, but never really asked about them.

“Ashley, my sister, lived in Indiana and we had a family trip planned to there about three years ago in January,” Brown said. “They told me on the way down there that we were going to meet my sister. When my dad mentioned that he had a daughter, he mentioned that she had a husband and a child of her own she was 21 at the time, and he wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.”

Not only did Brown gain a sister, she also added a nephew and a brother-in-law.

When she found out, Brown admitted that she was shocked.

“I had so many questions but at the time, my mind wasn’t really thinking about that,” Brown said. “I was thinking that instead of the great dad that I had known she was probably thinking about how he abandoned her.”

Brown’s family reacted in a calm manner to finding out the news. Her mom knew the whole time, but her brother was quiet he did not have an opinion about it because he was more worried about sharing a room.

Brown said that she had never seen her dad so nervous and that he kept asking her mom what to say.

“We didn’t really tell the rest of my family until we met Ashley,” Brown said. “Everyone just had to adjust, and you can tell that she is meant to be a part of my family.”

Brown met Devine for the first time at a Logan’s Roadhouse and as soon as she got there, she felt pressure to figure out how to make a lasting impression on her new sister.

“A car pulls up next to us,” Brown said. “As we were getting out, this family got out and it was my sister. As she got out of the car, she just stood there and looked at me and went in for a hug.”

Brown said she will never forget that hug because it felt like she had known her new sister her whole life. It was like she was hugging her best friend.

The next day, Brown’s sister told them that she wanted to move to Alabama.

“My family agreed, and we prepared two rooms in our house for them,” Brown said. “A little after a month, they moved in officially. When she first moved in, it was a little awkward, just adjusting to living with basically a stranger, but now we are practically inseparable like she’s always been a part of the family.”

Devine said she had known about her father for a while, but she had never met him.

“[O]ne day I sent him a message on Facebook saying I was his daughter and he quickly responded,” Devine said. “We began an online relationship a couple months before we met in person.”

Devine was nervous, but she needed to meet him to figure out who she was.

Finding out that you have a sister that you did not know about has the potential to change your life in either a negative or positive way. In Brown’s case, it changed her and her family’s life in a positive way, bringing her them closer than ever before and completing a family unit most of them did not know was missing a key member.