In January 2010, Christian Dean uprooted his life in California to settle in Montana.
He announced the decision to his parents at a family gathering in Great Falls, Mont. I’m not leaving, Dean said. I’m staying right here with Josh.
Dean wanted to stay and live with his biological older brother, Josh Huestis. Adopted to different parents at birth, Dean and Huestis were separated by nearly 1,200 miles their entire lives.
Only 15 months apart, the two met each other occasionally at family gatherings. But each visit was far too short. For years, the brothers fancied the idea of living together.
Time was running out for both of them. Huestis, a senior in high school, would go to college in the coming fall.
“It was our only time as kids to live together,” Dean says. “It was now or never.”
The Deans and the Huestises both understood, too. The two families gave their blessings, and for the next six months Dean and Huestis lived together in Great Falls — brothers for the first time.
Dean, who gave up his own burgeoning soccer career in Palo Alto, Calif., became Huestis’ biggest cheerleader as the latter led the high school basketball team to a state championship. He saw Huestis walk the graduation stage with a basketball scholarship to Stanford in hand.
Dean cherished every moment of those six months. He savored the talks with Huestis when commuting to school at 6 a.m. and the snowball fights in the thick Montana snow.
All his life, Dean looked up to Huestis as a role model, copying how Huestis talks and acts. Now, he was living with Huestis under the same roof, embracing the younger brother role.
“I thought every day how lucky I was to do this,” Dean says. “Some parents would’ve never allowed something like this to happen.”
When Bill and Elizabeth Dean adopted their newborn son from Alvin, Texas, they named him Christian William Lindsey Dean. William comes from Dean’s dad; Lindsey was his biological family’s surname.
Despite giving up their baby, the Lindseys have remained an integral factor all through Dean’s life.
The Lindseys put both Dean and Huestis up for adoption because they were too strapped to provide their two sons with the best education possible. They weren’t impoverished, but they already had trouble managing their first-born son, Holden.
“It boiled down to this: love, time, energy and resources,” Elizabeth says. “The time, energy and money wasn’t available for Christian. The love was always there.”
The Lindseys weren’t going to give up Dean without an open adoption. The Deans agreed that despite the distance, the Lindseys would see Dean several times a year. Whenever Dean wanted to talk to his biological mother, he could simply call her up.
Since the day he could understand what adoption meant, Dean knew he had two sets of families. At a very young age, Dean was aware of the reasons behind his adoption.
He was thankful that he was adopted to a family that not only loved him but also gave him the best education possible. The upfront honesty and emphasis on education by both his families ultimately paid off.
“I think it all worked out for the best,” Dean says.
Dean and Huestis first met each other when Dean was three years old. They were glued to each other. When playtime was over, the two had to be forcibly separated.
“They were the premium deal,” says Elizabeth. “When they had to split, they were always pissed.”
The Lindseys were by Huestis and Dean’s sides whenever possible. The Deans and Huestises were even invited to Texas for an annual family reunion complete with barbecues.
When Dean made the decision to stay in Montana, the Lindseys were there as well, supporting Dean’s decision.
The Lindseys saw Dean and Huestis grow up to be standout athletes. Huestis, who shot up to 6-foot-7, was Montana’s most coveted basketball recruit. Dean was an up-and-coming soccer star in the Bay Area, always playing one group above his actual age.
When Huestis chose Stanford, Dean was ecstatic. Stanford was just minutes from Dean’s home. Now the brotherhood would continue to grow in California.
Dean came back to California in the summer of 2010 alongside Huestis and immediately picked up his soccer boots again. Now competing within his own age level, Dean excelled and was recruited by many programs.
“I wouldn’t say it was easier, but it was more doable,” Dean says.
Dean sought a California school — or at least a Pac-12 school — at which to play soccer and therefore stay close to Huestis. Cal entered late in his recruiting radar, but since it was in the Bay Area and Stanford’s Pac-12 rival, it was a natural fit for Dean.
The brothers now lived closer than ever. They were finally united as family.
Once in a while, the brothers will get a phone call or a Facebook message from faraway Texas. It would be from their biggest fans, standing behind them in spirit like a regiment of guardian angels.
It would always end with the same message.
We love you, son. We can’t be more proud of you.
Last Thursday, Dean played as the starting center back for the Cal men’s soccer team against Stanford at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
Huestis was in the stands in neutral colors, rooting hard for Dean and the Bears.
“When Stanford basketball plays Cal, I root for him and Stanford,” Dean says. “It’s only fair.”
After the match, the brothers met up. The physical similarities between the two are uncanny; they have the same chiseled chin and curly, black hair. The only difference is in the eyes — Huestis’ are black, Dean’s, hazelnut.
They talked about the match. While Dean played a solid game, the defense still allowed two goals for a loss. He had a bad day.
On any other bad day, he will scroll through his phone contacts, thinking of who to talk to. Somedays, he’ll call his adopted father Bill. Other days, he’ll call Huestis. He might even call either his adopted mom, his biological mom or Mrs. Huestis.
“Depends on which one comes up first in my call list,” Dean says. “In my mind, I have three moms.”
Dean revels in the fact that he’s quite possibly the luckiest man in the world. In every direction he turns, there is a family shielding him from any harm. He is never alone.
Many in this world would trade everything to have just one loving family.