A woman who took a DNA test for a laugh as she had always felt she’d been ‘switched at birth’ got more than she bargained for when her results came in and she uncovered a family secret
Image: Matthew Lofthouse SWNS)
If you don’t look like your parents or siblings, you might find yourself feeling like the odd one out from time to time. You might even have the occasional thought about being adopted or switched at birth. Farrah Khiji-Holmes had always wondered if this might be the case as she says she’s ‘nothing like’ her family.
So she decided to finally find out the truth once and for all, by taking a DNA test. But what started out as just a laugh, ended with a real shock as the 52-year-old discovered she had a half-brother that none of her relatives knew anything about.
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Farrah has since met her newfound sibling Steve Bolton, 62. after he travelled to the UK from Canada to see her and his other relatives.
The siblings share the same father, Dr Mohammad Elijaz Khilji, but have different mothers and didn’t know the other existed until they got a match on their DNA tests.
Initially, the results suggested they could be first cousins, but as soon as Farrah saw Steve on a video call, she was gobsmacked as it was ‘like seeing her dad in the flesh’.
And it was eventually confirmed they were in fact half-siblings, not cousins.
The pair chatted online for 18 months, using WhatsApp and having video calls before Steve flew to meet Farrah in her hometown of Pontefract, West Yorks.
“I only logged on as a joke to see if I was switched at birth. It’s been a bit of a running joke in our family for years,” explained Farrah.
“I always said I must have been swapped at birth because there’s no way I could be part of such a bizarre family. So I did a DNA test as a joke and made my mum do one too. She’s my mum, there’s no doubt about that.
“But it came back with a close match to a man that it said was a first cousin or closer, but it couldn’t be sure because there was a wide range.
“I was sat in the pub when a message came through from Steve about 18 months ago and I shouted out ‘I’ve got a brother!’
“It’s absolutely like seeing dad in the flesh. My friends who have seen him say he’s the spitting image of dad.”
Farrah has since learned that her dad had a relationship with Steve’s mum, Pamela, in London in the 1960s before returning to Pakistan without knowing she was pregnant with his child.
Tragically, Pamela died when Steve was just seven and Dr Khilji died in 1998 having never learnt that he had another son.
In the meantime, he fathered children in Pakistan and when he returned to the UK, he had two children from a relationship with Sue Burton, Farrah and her sister Zarah.
Farrah also had three other half-siblings which she knew about as she grew up, but she never knew about Steve until her DNA test results came back.
Farrah added: “I sent the information to my mum and she filled in the gaps, she said Steve is most likely my half-brother.
“My dad had me and my sister with my mum. My dad looked after all his children and if he’d known he had another child, we’d have known about it.
“Dad was a big part of all our lives, if he’d known about Steve, he would have ensured he was part of our family too.
“He took an active role in all his children’s lives and there is no way dad would have seen any of his children taken into care.”
Steve was born in London and he didn’t know anything about his father other than his nickname and that he had connections to Karachi.
After his mum died of Pneumonia, Steve spent time in an orphanage before his grandparents took him to Jamaica where his mum was born.
But when his grandmother got sick, he was placed back in an orphanage in Jamaica before being adopted by a Canadian family. He then lived in Toronto from the age of 13.
After his adopted mum died he got his birth certificate and started looking for his dad.
He sent off a DNA sample two years ago and was matched with several cousins. He was considering giving up his search when he got a message from Farrah out of the blue to ask if he was her brother.
While in the UK, Steve visited his father’s grave before meeting up with Farrah, which he said was ‘really emotional’.
“After you’ve been waiting for so long it’s hard to believe it’s happened. It’s completely surreal, I didn’t know how to process it,” Steve said.
“As I got older, a friend helped me get my English birth certificate. My wife did all the research and got me to go on Ancestry.com.
“I got a couple of hits from cousins, but I was about to cancel my membership when Farrah messaged. She reached out to say I think you’re my half-brother and started asking questions about dad.
“When she sent me a picture of dad, I showed it to one of my aunties on my mum’s side and she said: ‘that’s the bugger’.
“I hope this encourages other people who have been adopted to do their research because it’s really amazing.”
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