Brothers united for the first time

Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 6:39 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Two brothers are meeting face to face for the first time this weekend.

Norlyn Freese of Marshfield opened a letter from his mother in June 2019 that changed his life.

“She’d left me an envelope that said on it, ‘only open upon my death.’ So I put these things in a lockbox and shut it up. Well, a year ago last June she passed away, and we were looking for a will, and in the box was that letter,” Freese said.

The letter said he had an older brother who was put up for adoption. His parents had the boy out of wedlock in the ’50s, when that was stigmatized, especially in places like small-town Iowa. Freese decided an at-home genetic test might help him track his brother down.

It turned out that Freese and his brother’s daughter had both taken the test. It identified them as related. He contacted her, and the next day his brother Douglas Hansen called him from his new home in Ecuador. That was back in March.

“Well, Unfortunately that’s when COVID really kicked in for us here, and that kind of ended that, and they got under that lockdown, and there was absolutely no way to get to him once I landed,” Freese said.

Some eased travel restrictions allowed that meeting to finally take place this weekend. The brothers met for the first time.

The two say this is the first of many planned visits.

“From having basically no family as an only child other than cousins and things, to having someone close, was big,” said Freese.

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