A teen knew he was adopted and enjoyed a home filled with love and joy. However, he always wondered about his biological parents, and the search to find them revealed something shocking.
When children reunite with their parents, there are often tears and heightened emotions—Steve Lickteig's story is no different.
The Kansas local grew up under the impression that Don and Mary Jane Lickteig compassionately adopted him into their Catholic family of 11. Shockingly, the truth about Steve's past was something entirely different.
[Left] Steve Lickteig with the people he believed were his adoptive family; [Right] Lickteig and his biological mother, Joanie. | Source: youtube.com/TODAY
"I KNOW WHO YOUR MOM IS"
The Lickteig family was related to Steve biologically, and everything they told him was a lie. The night before his high school graduation in 1987, two of Steve's friends shared some news that changed his life forever.
The friend knew that Steve was curious about his past, and they told him: "I know who your mom is."
A young Steve Lickteig with his grandparents, who he believed were his adoptive parents. | Source: youtube.com/TODAY
THE SHOCKING REVELATION ABOUT HIS PAST
Don and Mary Jane were not Steve's parents. They were his grandparents, and his older sister, Joanie, was his mother. She fell pregnant in the early 1970s, and her family tried to hide the occurrence from their small community.
Facing the truth was not easy, and Steve struggled to understand it.
Many community members were aware of what happened, and the truth was an "open secret" among a few neighbors and friends. The then-18-year-old Steve was confused and angry when he heard the truth.
Steve Lickteig with the people he believed were his adoptive family. | Source: youtube.com/TODAY
SPEAKING WITH HIS MOTHER
He kept the revelation to himself for a month, after which he confronted Don and Mary Jane. He fled the town in a fit of rage, but his sister turned birth mother, Joanie, managed to track him down.
"We had a moment of, 'Yes, this happened. I'm sorry.' I was mostly silent. And then we didn't talk about it again for another 15 years."
Steve Lickteig's biological mother, Joanie. | Source: youtube.com/TODAY
STEVE'S STRAINED RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS FAMILY
Facing the truth was not easy, and Steve struggled to understand it. He revealed that the revelation transformed him from a "really happy-go-lucky guy in high school" to someone that had a disconnected relationship with his entire family.
He eventually accepted his family's actions, and while their relationship remained strained, they worked on it, and Steve believed they would end up in a good place.
A young Steve Lickteig at a high school event. | Source: youtube.com/TODAY
YOUR LIFE DOES NOT NEED TO BE DESTROYED
In 2019, Steve shared that Joanie sent birthday cards to his kids. He added: "We're building something over time, but it takes a long time to get to another place, and we've just been trying to make that happen."
Steve hoped to help others who discovered shocking truths about their family histories by sharing his story. He offered people some encouragement and expressed that their lives do not need to be destroyed when something like this happens.
ANOTHER CHILD'S BIRTH PARENT WAS SOMEONE FAMILIAR
In surprising and rare instances, adopted kids discover that their parents are not entirely strangers to them. Lisa Wright was stunned when she found out who her birth mother was.
It was someone she recognized instantly. Wright's mom was actress Lynne Moody, and she starred in one of her favorite television shows growing up.
In 2018, they reconnected thanks to modern technology, and it was a special moment for them.
Finding out the truth about your past is not always easy. For Wright and Steve, it was an adjustment, but both of them were grateful for the chance to work on a relationship with their family members.