Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Longboat author finds her family closer than she could have imagined

Julie McGue searched for her birth family and discovered a brother within sight of their Michigan home.

  • By
  • | 3:46 p.m. May 7, 2021
  • Longboat Key
  • Neighbors
  • Share

In a cluster of Michigan lake houses, chance made them neighbors, but hearts made them friends, as the saying goes. But in the case of Longboat Key resident Julie McGue, those friendly neighbors had been family all along. 

McGue just became a published author with the book “Twice a Daughter,” which came out on May 11 via She Writes Press. It details her journey to find the birth family that had been secret to her in her closed adoption, and how at the end, her biological family was closer than she could have ever imagined — her biological brother literally lived next door. 

“It's like that last piece to the puzzle that you can't find, and all of a sudden, you figure out where it goes,” McGue said. “It was an incredible story arc.”

Now 62, McGue and her twin sister, Jenny, had been adopted along with their brother in a closed adoption. Their parents also had three biological children, so McGue grew up in a big, loving family. 

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

“I kind of don't know what it feels like not to have siblings, but certainly having a twin sister is phenomenal,” McGue said. “I mean, we went to college together … Back in Indiana, our houses are like a mile away from one another. We don't have to have long conversations, we just seem to understand each other.”

When she was 48, McGue went in for a breast biopsy, and after years of having no answers when doctors queried about her family’s medical history, she decided there was a lot she needed to know about herself and her biological family’s health. It was for the health of her four children, too, that she decided to approach her twin about starting the search for their parents. Their father gave them the adoption papers right away, but their mother wasn’t happy about her daughters looking for a family other than the one with which they’d grown up. 

“There was a lot of tension in my personal life during the search,” McGue said. “I didn't know anybody that had done an adoption search, and because closed adoption is such a unique animal, there weren't a lot of avenues. So I did what most people do nowadays. I went to the internet.”

There were lots of starts and stops over the journey, which lasted five years. This was in 2010, so not as many people had done Ancestry DNA or other family-finding methods yet. McGue tried it, but wound up with a handful of third and fourth cousins. 

“When I would match with somebody, they'd say, ‘Well, what are your family names?’” McGue said. “And I'd say, ‘I'm adopted. I don't know.’ That's the travesty that adoptees from closed adoption have is we don't have anything, and it's super frustrating to us.”

Eventually, McGue found the right documents, her birth mother, the all-important family medical history and the reason that the not-so-athletically-proficient McGue and husband produced three collegiate athletes. That led to finding her birth father and discovering that she had other biological siblings. After five years of looking for members of her biological family, she and her twin discovered that their brother had married the girl next door. 

“We just have not stopped laughing since, I mean, it is such a ridiculous turn of events,” McGue said. 

So ridiculous, and so seemingly ripped from a novel, that McGue decided to write a book about her experience. She’d been keeping journals the whole time under the guidance of her mother-in-law, who taught a course in reminiscence writing. After some more writing courses, McGue set her pen to paper with intention in 2016. 

“The hard part was putting enough emotional distance between living the story and writing the story,” McGue said. “There was so much disappointment and loss and rejection and acceptance and forgiveness to work through that it took me a while to be able to write the story in the way it needed to be told. So rather than an angry adoptee story, it's a story of healing and becoming content with your identity.”

She wrote most of the book from her Longboat Key home, busting writer’s block with walks on the beach or at St. Armands Circle. She found an editor before the pandemic, and after the usual gauntlet of revisions and edits, the book went off to She Writes Press. About 11 years after it started, the final version of McGue’s journey to becoming a daughter twice over was published May 11. Locally, “Twice a Daughter” can be found at Bookstore1 on 12 S. Palm Ave. in Sarasota, as well as online at Amazon and on Audible. 

“I think that the adoption experience has definitely gotten cleaned up over time, but we're still struggling,” McGue said. “People my age, to try and figure out our background, it's puzzling.”


Related Articles

  • February 27, 2013
The Villa on the Sea