Will Nadeau


I was born in 1969 in Alabama. My mother is from central Florida, but during that time period she was staying with family in Alabama. My birth certificate father (BCF) is from Indiana. He joined the Army in 1967; subsequently went to Vietnam and then came back to the U.S. and was stationed at Ft. Rucker (late Feb/early Mar 1969). My parents were married in April 1969 and upon my BCF’s discharge in 1970, my mother was transplanted to Indiana. My parents then had a son (Robert) in May 1972.

Growing up, I perpetually had indescribable feelings such as questioning why I didn’t feel close to my BCF. Why the lack of resemblance to his side of the family? It didn’t help that Robert looked just like our dad. I really didn’t resemble my mom’s side of the family either. People outside of the family would occasionally ask where did you get him from?

The response from my parents was typically “he was born in an Army hospital and probably switched at birth.” There were times that I actually bought into that and started to believe it.  Perhaps I was really switched and my “real” parents were out there somewhere?

Once I reached adulthood and had a family of my own; the feelings that I experienced growing up subsided. Typically, during times of frustration when dealing with my parents, they would resurface. I was blessed to marry my wife Patty and have two wonderful children.  Not having a close relationship with my own parents; I developed a tremendous connection with my in-laws. I always felt so accepted and loved by them both. That relationship remained strong until they passed away.  

A few years back, I started to show interest in learning more about both sides of the family I already knew quite a bit about my mother’s side. Quite a few of the maternal side had done a lot of research and passed that along to the rest of the family. But since I grew up around the “paternal” of the family, I focused my research on them. Discovering that my BCF’s maternal side came from Holland and Germany in the late 1800’s settling in the Cincinnati Ohio area.

Fast forward to the summer of 2020. With my paternal grandmother’s health declining and some generational conflicts involving my parents and other family members, I started to have all of those indescribable feelings revisit, along with bad childhood memories as well as just questioning my life, in general—all rushing back. Ironically my wife and I had been watching the DNA Detectives series during that time frame. She suggested that I should order an Ancestry DNA kit. If nothing else, I decided maybe it will FINALLY put a lifetime of doubts to rest.

I submitted the test in August and waited. On October 6th, I received my results and initially looked at the regions of origin. I didn’t see Germany and Holland which raised a red flag. I did see my maternal uncle and cousins show up as matches; so I at least knew for sure that my mother was indeed my mother!!!  But then I wondered why no paternal side matches, not one. It was then I then noticed a close relative match who I didn’t know. I looked at our shared matches and to my surprise there appeared to be a number of people (all with French surnames) who I had no idea who they were as well.

It then hit me with every assurance that the man who raised me, the man who I have known to be my father for 50 years WASN’T my “real” dad. While some of it is still a blur, I do recall my wife Patty (we were both still working from home) coming into the family room. I said look there are no BCF paternal surnames, coming up on my “paternal side” matches.  We then started separating the two sides and messaging quite a few “new” cousins hoping to get some answers.  My wife and I started doing our own research trying to find this close relative.

During our search, my wife found an obituary of a gentleman from Massachusetts who passed away in 2015. She remarked on how there was such a strong resemblance. He (Albert) was also in the army during the Vietnam era. But it was so early on in the search it was hard to know what was what. At some point, I got on Facebook and discovered a few DNA groups and started seeking advice. A gentleman then messaged me about an NPE group. Upon acceptance, a lady then volunteered to be my search angel. She and I were in constant communication trying to figure out who the mysterious close relative is; as well as trying to figure out who my biological father is. She was able to create a family tree and narrow it down to two potential men.

After a few weeks of research, she reached out on 11/10. There were two things that would help solidify who the right one was. First, the potential biological father was stationed in Ft Rucker Alabama during the time period. Second, she also believed his mother was a WW2 bride from Naples, Italy. The search angel then seemed pretty confident that the person we were looking for was indeed Albert. Ironically, it was the same man my wife had pinpointed early on in our search—Albert Nadeau.

My search angel found FB profiles of Albert’s widow and three sisters. She then advised that we should reach out to them to confirm the Ft. Rucker placement during late 68-69. That evening my wife FB messaged Al’s widow Diane. Basically stating that she was assisting me in trying to find close relatives and that I had strong Nadeau ties. The key was placing Al In Alabama. Diane was obviously taken aback but did confirm that Al was stationed there and during that time. Note: Diane and Al didn’t meet until 1971 and were married in 1976.

After exchanging more information and photos with Patty that night, Diane said she would contact his sisters the next day and then call us that evening to talk about the conversations she had with my new aunts. Two were very receptive and in fact, the youngest sister offered to take the Ancestry DNA test. I received her results in mid-December confirming that she is my aunt. During my call with Diane, the subject of the actual date of my DNA results came up – it was 10/06. She said oh my gosh that is five years to the day that Al passed away: 10/06/2015.

The relationships and connections with the new family started to develop and grow. After establishing who my biological father was; my question then was “does my BCF” know and how to approach my mother about all of this? In early December 2020, I called to confront her. My BCF answered and I asked if mom would be willing to talk and he said no.

So I said to him “as you guys know I’ve been doing ancestry research the past few years and recently submitted a DNA test. Is there something you guys need to tell me?”  He hesitated and at that moment, I knew that he knew, and said do you really want to know? He added if you say anything to your mom about this, she will never speak to you again. He proceeded to tell me that he knew Albert. They were both in the same army unit in Vietnam. Albert then came back home (to be stationed at Ft Rucker Alabama) earlier than he did and evidently was seeing my mom. My BCF didn’t get back until the first of March. 

I am still trying to fill the holes as to what all transpired back then. Some time went by and then out of the blue, my mom called and berated me for finding out the truth. The positive of the call was that she actually admitted that Al was my biological father. I resolved to just try and have a relationship with her; knowing that it was a lost cause to even try bringing up the subject. In fact, there’s been no communication whatsoever since July 2021. 

I found it hard to live with a name that wasn’t truly mine; so I decided to change my surname to the rightful one. I’ve since focused on continuing to develop relationships with the new family who have accepted me. To include so many close and distant cousins.  Not to mention a lot of amazing NPE friends.