Doug Henning grew up with a set of adopted parents, who he loved very much but he wanted to know more about his family and birth parents. The likely first step he thought was, hoping to at least learn about his heritage.

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According to a story from, an email from a cousin helped him connect with one of his two biological sisters and then his biological dad, who didn’t know about his son.

“So within a day we exchanged emails and phone numbers,” he said. The following day he was on the phone with his sister, and since March, the family has connected on Zoom. Henning, who is married and has two daughters of his own, finally was able to connect the dots of his past.

Just days before the meet-up, Henning and his family had watched the 2003 Holiday classic movie “Elf,” and that’s when he had the idea that he should dress up as Buddy.

(In the movie, Buddy the Elf meets his biological father (James Caan), who is unaware he even has a son and sings a song to him when they see each other the first time).

It’s not often someone can say they’re meeting their biological father for the first time in their 40s...dressed as an elf.

As Raul, Henning’s father approached him at the airport, Henning broke into Buddy’s song from the movie about father and son finding each other. He couldn’t get the whole thing out before Raul reached out and put his arms around him. Who knew at that point if it was out of affection or just to subdue him.

“When he came out of the airport, he probably thought I was a lunatic,” Henning said. “It was a really good way to break the ice.”

There was one catch: Henning’s dad hadn’t seen the movie, but his two sisters had. Both were laughing as Henning sang.

“We ultimately sat down as a family and watched the movie,” Henning said.

The two men, though separated for decades, found they had more in common than one would imagine. Both work in television: Henning a camera operator, his dad coincidentally a sound mixer.

The event was highlighted on WHAS-TV



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