Atlanta's Chris Thrasher seeks his birth mom on TLC's 'Long Lost Family' April 8

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Chris Thrasher grew up as a black adopted child was raised by a white family in the outskirts of Buffalo in the 1970s.

His adopted parents told him he was merely a dark-skinned Sicilian but he said he was bullied and teased anyway. He dropped out of school at age 16 and to numb his pain,  fell into an abyss of drug addiction and crack cocaine.

But Thrasher's story has a happier ending than most. At age 19, he entered rehab, finished school, became a professor and now works for former Pres. Bill Clinton's foundation as senior director of substance use disorders and recovery. The Atlanta resident, who is married with two daughters, also decided to seek out his biological parents via TLC's "Long Lost Family," which airs this Sunday at 10 p.m. and struck gold.

"I pretty much became unglued," said Thrasher, when the producers informed him of the good news that they had found his biological mom Joann Taylor. "I really lost it. I wasn't as prepared for the news as I had anticipated." He said he doesn't even remember huge gobs of that meeting and is looking forward to seeing the video for the first time.

Thrasher, who moved to Atlanta in 1999 and spent 13 years on the faculty of the Morehouse School of Medicine and two years at Jeff Arnold's Sharecare, said he now talks to his biological mother regularly.

He said three signs pointed him to finding his bio mom in 2016. First he saw the film "Lion," which starred Nicole Kidman and featured an Indian adoptee searching for his biological mother. Thrasher and his two adoptee friends in the audience, he said, "were in the fetal position at Phipps, boo-hooing watching this movie. It made me realize I have some issues I haven't addressed."

Soon after, a therapist friend recommended he see a new hit NBC show called "This is Us" about a white family which adopts a black child in the 1970s. While exercising on his elliptical, he watched a couple of episodes and was deeply affected. "It has a lot of parallels to my life," he said.

Then another friend told him the same time about TLC's "Long Lost Family," which is now in its third season and reconnects family members. He watched the first two seasons on demand and got even more emotional than he did watching 'This is Us."

"The more I watched these episodes, the more raw I felt," he said. At the end of one episode, he saw information to apply for the show. He did so immediately. It took several months and endless phone and Skype calls but TLC eventually signed on to tell his story and help find his birth mother.

He even flew up to Buffalo to meet with his adopted parents to break the news, worried they might react poorly. But they didn't. They supported him 100 percent. Relieved, he shot the episode.

Thrasher, who said he is 28 years clean from drugs, also did one of those genetic tests to find out how much of his racial makeup is from Africa vs. elsewhere. The results, he said, were not that surprising. And yes, he does have Italian in him, courtesy of his bio mom.

Chris Thrasher meets his birth mom Joann Taylor on "Long Lost Family" on TLC airing Sunday, April 8, 2018. CREDIT: TLC
Chris Thrasher with his new employer Bill Clinton. CREDIT: Special from Chris Thrasher


"Long Lost Family," 10 p.m. Sundays, TLC

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.