I missed the first two seasons of the TLC docu-series "Long Lost Family," which reunites long-lost separated family members.
But then I got a note from a publicist advising me of a Buffalo angle concerning the third season premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday.
I wish the publicist had warned me to have a box of Kleenex handy.
I haven't cried this much watching a show since the fictional family series "This Is Us" ended its season.
The "Long Lost Family" episode actually has some similarities to "This Is Us" that will be explained later.
TLC's release noted that Buffalo native Christian Thrasher sought to finally understand his racial identity by trying to find his birth parents.
Thrasher, who is the senior director of substance abuse disorders and recovery for the Clinton Foundation and lives in Atlanta, was adopted by a supportive family.
He was raised with two other siblings adopted by loving parents, Craig and Peg Thrasher.
However, viewers hear that Christian was mistreated by some fellow students and teachers in a community where he was the only African-American. I was a little confused hearing that Christian was supposedly the only African-American living in Buffalo, but that confusion also will be explained later.
Christian's adoption papers were confusing, too. The paperwork said his birth parents were white when his appearance suggested he was multiracial.
With the approval of his adopted parents and the help of compassionate program co-host Lisa Joyner, Thrasher searches for answers.
Feeling that he was different from his classmates and being mistreated by a couple of teachers, Thrasher admittedly turned to drugs in high school and was able to go into rehab before turning his life around.
We learn that Thrasher became a success, working and meeting some important people, including presidents. It would have been nice if the program spent more time dealing with his successful career.
However, the program is split between two heartwarming stories – Thrasher's and the story of two sisters who are reunited after being separated since they were young.
Each story could easily fill an hour program by itself, which would have enabled viewers to better understand how Thrasher became successful.
The segment is designed to focus on Joyner helping the 48-year-old Thrasher uncover the mysteries of his life and finding out who he is, where he comes from and why he was put up for adoption.
It does so powerfully. You can almost feel Thrasher's early pain when he says, "This wound is never going to be healed," and subsequent joy when the truth finally sets him free.
The program also seems like an advertisement for Ancestry, which is understandable. It is a partner in the production, providing DNA testing and family history research to help solve family mysteries.
Ancestry helped Joyner find Thrasher's birth mother, Joann, who lives in Rochester. She explained her parents influenced her reluctant decision to put her son up for adoption.
The episode in this non-fiction series follows the narrative structure in fictional dramas like "This Is Us" that postpones discoveries before participants – and viewers – get happy endings.
In the end, Christian is overwhelmed by meeting his birth mother, who dealt with her own pain for years and ultimately provides all the answers Christian needs to make the result "the biggest thing that ever happened to me in my life."
If you don't cry watching the extended hug between son and his birth mother when they first meet, and Christian proclaiming, "I feel totally complete," then you should check your pulse to see if you are alive.
In a telephone interview, Christian's parents explained Christian and his two very accomplished siblings, Kate and David, grew up in East Aurora. He attended school there and in West Falls.
In other words, he was the only African-American student in East Aurora, not Buffalo, as the program says.
It could be difficult for some parents to share such a personal story on national TV, but Christian's parents were supportive of his decision to be on the program, saying they would do anything to help him heal.
"There was absolutely no difficulty from our point of view," said Craig, who added all three children were told they were "more than welcome" to investigate their history. "There was no angst from our point of view."
"We were so thrilled that Christian was finally making some headway with it that we were willing to do whatever it was they needed us to do in support of Christian," added Peg.
"Our two older kids knew that he was often troubled. Both of them were absolutely fine with (the program). Our middle child, David, was very concerned that somehow Craig and I would be hurt by this whole process. We have just reassured him over and over that we are just fine with it."
The Thrashers added they have become "dear friends" since the program was filmed with the birth mother, who they call "delightful."
Craig noted Christian also wanted to pursue the program after learning his oldest daughter had developed diabetes and believing it would be helpful to understand her family's medical history.
The similarities with "This Is Us" begin with the family structures. The NBC series centers around three siblings born on the same day – twins Kate and Kevin to white birth parents -- and a third child, an African-American, Randall, who was adopted and as an adult became interested in knowing about his biological parents.
Craig explained that their first two adopted children, who are white, were born on the same day two years apart. Christian was born two years and two days after their second child. When the Thrashers were asked if they had room for a third child having almost the same birthday, his father said: "It was a sign."
The Thrashers regularly watch "This Is Us."
"I love the show," said Peg. "Our family is very much like that family. A lot of things that we experienced. I identify with many of the situations that all three children and the parents -- feelings and emotions -- had."