DALLAS — What you need to know about Dennis Blackstone is that family is his constant. It started at birth, with his twin brother Doug. Both boys were adopted at 3 years old by a family in Corsicana. They grew up knowing they had a biological sister, but knew nothing else about her.
Dennis would finally meet her 70 years later, outside of a restaurant. Our cameras were rolling when Connie Rusk came running toward him.
What happened next was a flurry of tears, hugs, and introductions. By finding his sister, Blackstone also gained two half-sisters — instant aunts to his sons. There were cousins and nieces who were all strangers minutes before, but who’d always held a space in each other’s hearts.
It was modern technology that made their meeting possible. Last year, Blackstone received a DNA kit from 23andMe, and sent it into the company. This month, he received an email alerting him to a fairly strong match in DNA. That led him to a cousin, and ultimately Rusk’s number. Last week, he sent a text.
"I said, 'I was told I have a sister named Connie, and I’m just curious and wanted to know, does this happen to be you?'" he said.
"I was driving, and when that text came through, I slammed on my breaks and I had to pull over to the side of the road," Rusk said.
Turns out, Rusk had looked for him just as long. Name changes and other issues led her and her half-sisters to dead ends, but they often spoke of the boys.
They also learned that they'd been just miles apart all these years. Dennis lives in Arlington and Connie lives in Little Elm.
After their warm greeting, the siblings settled into a booth at a restaurant together, armed with photos from their own family histories.
In their years apart, they lost their biological mother and Dennis' twin, Doug. But it brought them joy to think how happy those two must be to see these four together now.
"It is just a flat miracle," said Rusk. "That’s all this is, it’s a miracle!"