Right Time, Right Place: Long-Lost Brother and Sister Brought Together at Cook Children's
Two siblings went through life without knowing each other existed – and over the course of seven years, they were walking past each other at Cook Children’s.
Story by Eline deBruijn Wiggins. Video by Tom Riehm. Photos by Abigail Hodgson.
It was a typical day for Christina and Craig Sadberry and their 11-year-old son Bryson when they took him for a March 2022 appointment at Cook Children’s. As part of their routine, they always stop by the Cook Children’s replica LEGO display and look into the Sparklefly Recording Studio at the Child Life Zone where patients can sing, record, and play music. For the first time, they saw someone inside the studio: Recording Studio Producer Raymond Turner was playing the keyboard.
“I would like to meet that guy,” Craig said to Christina.
Little did Craig know that within just an hour later, his wife and the intriguing piano man in that studio would both read messages that would change their lives forever.
For Christmas, Turner’s wife, Maria Turner, gave him a 23andMe kit because Raymond wanted to know which countries in Africa he was from and he hoped to visit one day. He said African people would randomly ask if he was from Cameroon, but his 23andMe results showed that he’s from sub-Saharan Africa, west Nigeria and Ghana. Raymond was thrilled to learn something about his ancestry, not knowing he was about to uncover a more surprising connection with someone who walked the same Cook Children’s hallways as he.
According to 23andMe, Raymond had a “familial match, sibling.” That match’s name? Christina Sadberry. The same Christina Sadberry who, unbeknownst to him, had peered into the studio that very day while he was playing the keyboard.
A few days earlier, Raymond had messaged Christina on 23andMe. Her 23andMe profile said she had not been active for a few months.
“I said in the message, ‘I don’t even know if you will want to reach out. This is really strange, I know, but regardless I hope you and your family are doing well,” Raymond said.
Raymond said he kept checking 23andMe and there was no activity from Christina. A few days later, Maria “Facebook stalked” Christina and found out that they had a mutual friend. Maria asked the mutual friend to talk to Christina and let her know to check her Facebook messages.
The very next day, Maria and Christina were messaging each other, and Maria told her that Raymond’s results showed that she was his sister. They became Facebook friends and Christina saw Maria’s pictures of the family. She clicked on Raymond’s profile.
“Wait, your husband works at Cook Children’s?” she messaged Maria.
“Yes,” Maria said.
“Was he wearing a red shirt today?”
The realization that Christina had set eyes on her long-lost brother the very day the connection was unveiled brought Maria to tears. She was driving and had to pull over on the side of the road to collect herself. She called Raymond to share the news.
“Wednesday was the first time we saw somebody in there,” Christina said. “We probably walked past you a billion times.”
Raymond said it had been a frantic day because his ID badge broke and he had computer issues, so he was in the studio for brief windows of time. It was in one of those fateful moments that Christina and her family passed by.
All these years, the man in the studio across from the LEGO set was her half-brother. An extension of family. Family that she never knew she had.
“We talk now about how grateful we are to just be a part of not only God’s bigger story of reconciliation but thankful we have found each other and just we are in each other’s hearts even before we physically met each other,” Raymond said. “Our hearts knew that the other was out there and were still kind of searching.”
Raymond joined Cook Children’s in December 2015 and Christina started bringing her son, Bryson, for his treatments starting in spring 2015. Christina is in the U.S. Air Force and lived in multiple places before she and her family moved to Keller. In the past seven years, it’s likely they passed by each other at Cook Children’s, not knowing they were brother and sister, and not knowing the other existed.
“There are no accidents in this world,” Raymond said. “I hope that if people realize anything through this, it’s that yeah there are moments in our lives that we consider to be serendipitous, but when you put all of these things together when we recount all of this, there’s no way we could have planned this, could have scripted this. This was a divine appointment, this was on God’s timetable and it was at the right moment.”
On Friday, March 25, Raymond and Christina met in person at the Atrium of Cook Children’s and brought their families along. Raymond and Christina wondered how they would be received and were anxious about what would happen.
All of that fell away when Christina walked through the door and they hugged with tears rolling down their faces.
“Oh, man. I never would’ve expected it,” Christina said after they embraced each other. “I don’t even know what to say. Just seeing you, I’m speechless.”
Raymond said it felt like there had been no lapse of time.
“That’s probably the best way I can put into words is it was like this immediate feeling ‘this is blood,’” Raymond said. “It felt like home. It was like I was hugging the sister I had known all my life.”
Their spouses and children witnessed the moment they had all been waiting for and met each other.
“You’re a missing piece of his puzzle, too,” Maria said.
For the special meeting, Raymond and Maria’s eldest son, Isaiah, 17, who has his own design and printing company, created two T-shirts with the words “Cousin Vibes” on the front. Their youngest son Elijah, 9, wore one and gave the other to his cousin Bryson, who put it on over his hoodie, beaming a huge smile.
The families sat down and talked about how they reconnected with each other.
Craig talked about the moment that Christina read the message on Facebook. She was crying and shaking; her husband asked what was wrong.
“I think I found my brother,” Christina told him.
These days, Raymond and Christina are in constant communication, asking each other their favorite colors, and favorite Blue Bell ice cream flavors.
“There are some eerie similarities,” Raymond said. “We both liked Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream growing up and then switched to Butter Pecan in our 20s.”
Christina gained a sister-in-law and two nephews, and Raymond gained a brother-in-law, two nephews and a niece.
From March until the first week of July, Christina and Raymond lived 45 minutes apart and the families spent time together every chance they could, celebrating birthdays, holidays, sporting events, and dinners at least once a week.
Before meeting Christina, Raymond knew of his two younger brothers and one other younger sister.
Christina was adopted and grew up with a small family of her adoptive mom, dad and two brothers. She had been searching for her biological family members since 2006 when she signed up for 23andMe. During that time, her 23andMe inbox remained empty.
She said that her biological mom told her that she was a secret. There was no doubt in Christina's mind that Raymond was her big brother. Her adoption paper confirmed information that only Raymond could know.
“This right here is nothing I expected,” Christina said. “It can only go up from here. It already feels like family.”
Raymond and Christina talk about growing old together, too.
“She said we’ll be going to the park to sit and feed the birds together,” Raymond said. “There were all these years that we missed, but we believe there will be more years ahead to get to know each other than the ones, and I won’t even say, lost, which were preparing us for this moment and to appreciate what we have.”
In early July, due to a reassignment with the Air Force, Christina and her family moved to Florida, but the Sadberrys and Turners still text and FaceTime as often as possible. They are looking forward to their first Thanksgiving together at the Sadberrys’ new home in Florida.
Raymond and Christina still have some reconnecting to do with other family members, but Raymond says they are grateful and realize that these moments don’t happen for everyone.
“It happened at the appointed time, at the right time and it just blows my mind,” Raymond said. “It’s just God’s timing in all of it and all the things. I believe things in heaven and earth had to move for all of those things to move at the right time, in the right place.”
Media partners: If you are interested in telling this story, please contact Public Relations Manager Kim Brown at Kim.Brown3@cookchildrens.org or at 682-885-1080, 817-266-3728
About Cook Children's
Cook Children’s Health Care System embraces an inspiring Promise – to improve the health of every child through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, we’re proud of our long and rich tradition of serving our community. Our not-for-profit organization is comprised of nine companies, including our Medical Center, Physician Network, Home Health company, Northeast Hospital, Pediatric Surgery Center, Health Plan, Health Services Inc., Child Study Center and Health Foundation. With more than 60 primary, specialty and urgent care locations throughout Texas, families can access our top-ranked specialty programs and network of services to meet the unique needs of their child. For 100 years, we’ve worked to improve the health of children from across our primary service area of Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties. We combine the art of caring with leading technology and extraordinary collaboration to provide exceptional care for every child. This has earned Cook Children’s a strong, far-reaching reputation with patients traveling from around the country and the globe to receive life-saving pediatric care. For more information, visit cookchildrens.org.