Jim Miller's mother told him he was an only child and that his father had died in 1966.
He was put into care and eventually ended up as one of the many abuse victims in the Kincora Boy's home in east Belfast.
On the day after his 51st birthday his cousin rang him and told him there was an advert in the Belfast Telegraph asking for him by his full name.
"Richard James Anthony Miller, aged 51, born Canada and last known in Belfast 1964", it said along with a phone number to call.
His cousin encouraged him to take it seriously and when Jim rang the number he was through to an agency that searches for missing relatives.
They explained that he had family members in England and his half-sister was trying to get in touch. She gave Jim her contact details and left it up to him.
Jim was a bit nervous but eventually he made the call.
"These are things you see on TV, it's never actually yourself. It was amazing, a mixture of all sorts of emotions but I thought it can't do any harm to phone."
Judy said the connection was instant and a few days later Jim was on a plane to Manchester to meet her.
" I didn't need a photograph," he says. " Even though I had no idea what she looked like, as soon as I saw her I knew who she was."
Judy felt the same: "From the minute we spoke on the phone it was like what they call a soul connection, it was instant."
It was a life-changing phone call.
Jim now has a sister who, as a trained counsellor, has helped him to process some of the trauma he suffered as a child.
He has also discovered his extended family in Canada and recently spent a number of years living there and getting to know them.
Hear the full interview with Jim and Judy on The Sunday News, BBC Radio Ulster at 1300 BST.