A scene from the holiday movie Elf played out in real life as a man recently dressed up as Buddy the Elf to meet his biological father for the first time. In the 2003 movie directed by Jon Favreau, Buddy (Will Ferrell) is a human raised by Santa's elves who travels to New York City to meet his biological father (James Caan). When they first meet, Buddy is overcome with excitement and starts to sing, "I'm here, with my dad, and we never met, and he wants me to sing him a song!"
One big fan of the movie is Eliot, Maine resident Doug Henning, who grew up with an "amazing" set of adopted parents. A few years ago, Henning signed up at Ancestry.com in an effort to learn more about his biological parents and family history. He was eventually discovered on the website by one of his two biological sisters, who offered to help connect him to his father. Henning's father, Raul, didn't even know he had a son, but within days, all parties involved agreed to set up a meeting in Boston after taking the appropriate safety precautions.
Shortly before the meeting, Henning and his family watched Elf, noticing how the movie's fictitious storyline mirrored his upcoming reunion. Not willing to let the opportunity go to waste, Henning decided he would dress up as Buddy the Elf when meeting his own biological father. When the two first laid eyes on each other at the airport, Henning started to belt out Buddy's song, leading to Raul wrapping him up in a big hug. The whole ordeal was captured on video posted online.
"When he came out of the airport, he probably thought I was a lunatic," Henning said of the reunion. "It was a really good way to break the ice."
Unfortunately, Raul hadn't seen Elf and probably had no idea what to think when he saw his son dressed as Buddy. Meanwhile, Henning's biological sisters, who were accompanying Raul on the trip, got the reference and burst out into laughter. It all worked out soon enough after, as Henning says everyone "ultimately sat down as a family and watched the movie."
Henning hopes the story will "bring people some happiness" at what's been a rather difficult year. Although they were separated for decades, Henning and his father discovered that they both work in television. Henning works as a camera operator while Raul is a sound mixer. The two spoke about whether they may have crossed paths before and are both eager to build a family bond together moving forward.
Raul's son also learned more about his ancestry after hearing how his father migrated to the United States from Columbia in the 70s. The reunion also made Raul a grandfather, as Henning's biological sisters don't currently have children. Raul expressed some frustration that he had missed out on so much of his son's life, though Henning assured him that the life he had with his adopted parents had been great.