Alabama brothers travel to Tampa Bay area to meet siblings they never knew they had after 60-plus years

Heart of Tampa Bay

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A special Thanksgiving for 63-year-old Louis Payne and 64-year-old Joey Shamburger. The brothers were adopted by separate couples in Mobile when they were babies. Their adopted parents were first cousins, so they grew up together knowing they were biological brothers.

“We always wondered did we have some siblings. We always had adopted parents, adopted families that loved us … but, we just wanted some … some of our own siblings, and so it finally happened,” Shamburger said.

Thanks to Ancestry DNA testing spearheaded by Payne’s daughter, two months ago the brothers learned they have two more brothers in Florida. One lives in Tampa. The other lives in Miami.

“It’s just jubilation, excitement. We were looking for them … they were never looking for us,” Payne said.

Shamburger and Payne say they both grew up in Mobile, lovingly reared by African-American parents. Here’s a photograph of their biological mother who died in 2009, Maria Rodgriguez. Shamburger and Payne have not only learned they have brothers, but they’re also Hispanic. Their mother was from Puerto Rico and both men are excited to learn about their heritage.

“I love it”, said Shamburger. “I’ve gotta learn how to do the Salsa,” Payne said.

Their adopted parents are deceased and until now said all they had were each other, Payne’s daughter and her children. Now, they have a whole new family including a nephew who bears a striking resemblance to Shamburger.

“Everybody in my church says he’s my son, but he’s not. We look just alike, and he’s the grill cook in the family and I’m a grill cook”, Shamburger said.

They look forward to cooking together and just feeling a connection that comes from family. “Just knowing these are your real people, you know,” said Payne with tears in his eyes.

“This don’t happen everyday. Being 64 years old and you meeting two of your brand new siblings for the first time. Now, it’s over 40 of us, so that’s a big blessing. I want everyone to be happy for us,” Shamburger said.

The men don’t know how it came about that they were adopted. They were always told their mother had died. Regardless, they hold no hard feelings. They are expected to unite with their Florida Family this week.

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