Finding My Biological Father: Money, Science and Determination with a Bit of Luck

On my birth certificate my father’s name is “Unknown”. When I was a child I felt so different from all the other children. I was the only one I knew in school who didn’t know her father and who was raised by a single mother. As I grew up I met more people who were raised by single moms but they all knew who their father was. I had this need to know and kept trying to get answers from my mother who really didn’t have a clue who he was. I didn’t understand how she could not remember who I could look like but even if she did it would still have been almost impossible to find him.

I was born in the early 70’s and we never thought the day would come where I would be able to find him using DNA. That day came and this is my story.

It was Christmas 2016 and Dami gave me a 23 and Me Health and Ancestry DNA kit. I was so excited! I got the results a couple months later while we were on vacation in Tampa, Florida and I couldn’t believe I had a second cousin once removed. When I came back my mother and his father did the test and a couple months later it confirmed our link was through his grandmother. The way this works is by the amount of DNA segments shared we can predict the relationship. My second cousin had a family tree on Ancestry so I started building my tree starting from our common ancestor which was my great great grandfather. My mother and I did the test there as well. I contacted a few people on Ancestry but never got a response. It was frustrating.

It was nerve wrecking! I was constantly waiting. Waiting for DNA results, waiting for a response from someone, waiting … waiting. Every time I read an obituary from a man around my father’s age I felt a renewed urgency to find him.

I would search for a couple of months and then I would take a break when I hit a wall and started again a few months later. Building the tree down from my great great grandfather was not easy. I purchased a subscription with My Folks in Quebec and with My Heritage and Geneanet.  Looking for my father seemed like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. My great great grandfather had 8 children who each had between 4 and 13 children. Among those children was my grandmother or grandfather. I used search engines to find obituaries which had names of living people. I had to find their children and once I did I moved on to Facebook. My father had to be in one of 6 families.

The easiest people to get in touch with were people who were very active on Facebook for their work. I was able to get in touch with my father’s cousin and told her my story. I had a sheet of all the details my mother could remember. She remembered some details that I relayed along with the neighborhood I was conceived. There was one guy who fit that description but he hadn’t been in touch with family for a long time. I was a nerve wreck. It was like being on a roller coaster where you never get off. You stop a few seconds and there you are off again. I had many sleepless nights. Especially the night where my father’s cousin managed to get his work phone number from her father; he told my grandmother his cousin wanted to speak to him and she gave him his work phone number. I couldn’t believe I was maybe going to talk to my father for the first time. I didn’t know how I would present myself. In the middle of the night I searched for his work’s Facebook page and when I saw his picture I had a feeling it had to be him. I teared up… Then I looked again on my Ancestry DNA matches and searched my grandmother’s name and found two relatives with shared ancestors and I had one more probable proof.

So the morning came and I had to call my father but he happened to be off and I had to wait another couple of days. When I finally got to speak to him I was so nervous! He had clients waiting for him but took a few minutes to talk to me. I told him I was looking for a friend of my mother’s he might have known from back in the days. If he knew that friend, he was the guy he was my father… and he did! Then there was a big silence and I told him everything. He was flabbergasted.

That same day, I mailed him some pictures. I was so excited I wanted to tell the whole world! It felt like I had won the lottery; I had the ticket, I checked my numbers again and again but until I went to the lottery office it was not official yet. Communicating was not easy as he didn’t have an email address and didn’t want to give me his personal phone number just yet. Again, I had to wait for a response. He called two weeks after while I was away, of course. He spoke with Dami who asked him if indeed he was my father and he said it seemed like it, and that he took it as a gift from life. I was a gift! I couldn’t have been happier.

We first met about a month later. I organized a meeting in a restaurant where they had comfortable booths to have a bit of privacy since I would give him a DNA swab test. I was by myself as I had no other choice. After all I didn’t know him, he was a perfect stranger and no one  knew what type of person he was. I told the waitress about the special occasion and she moved us to a secluded area of the restaurant. When my father saw me he said we didn’t need to do the DNA test, he was my father. We recognized each other right away. Looking into his eyes for the first time was priceless. We were both so nervous and had so much to tell each other. After our meal, the waitress took a picture of us and she was happy we shared this moment with her. It was truly special.

The next day I was dropping off the swab he took for the paternity test. I chose a small local company where I could get fast results in a few days instead of having to wait… I waited long enough! 3 days later I had a positive match. I sent him the papers. They were very scientific. It would have been nice to see something written like: He Is Your Father! But no, it was just plain technical scientific stuff. It said we could not say he was not my father. It was not a legal paper because in order to be legal we would have had to take the swab together in their office in front of a witness but it was enough for me.

We met again a month later at an event my father organized, a few days before Christmas. That is when I met my half-sister for the first time. My father wanted to introduce each other himself but of course with all my research I had found a picture of her online and I knew what she looked like. As soon as I saw her walk in, I went to her and introduced myself. I didn’t know he hadn’t told her and it was quite the surprise for her, and it was a bit awkward. Her brother was also invited to the event but never showed up. When my father finally had a moment he was disappointed to see we had already introduced ourselves but was happy none the less to see us together. She didn’t stay very long but we exchanged our phone numbers and birthdays. I offered her the Ancestry DNA kit that was meant for my father but she declined. I asked: Aren’t you curious to find more about your origins?” And she said “No, not really”. I was very curious because her mother is Hindu from Mauritius and I thought it could have been interesting. Oh well. 

My father picked me up the next day and I spent the afternoon with him and his girlfriend. He cooked a delicious lunch for us but I was so nervous I had a knot in my stomach. He drove me to the airport the next day and told me he would call regularly and he did.

For my birthday he sent some material for my genealogy research; with all this Ancestry research I got the genealogy bug and it has become a true passion and past time. He sent me a copy of my great grandfather’s birth certificate and a copy of my great great grandmother’s will among other documents and pictures. It was a super nice gift.

The last time I saw him my mother and I spent a couple hours at his place. It was the first time these two got to have a chat ever since I was conceived… I can’t wait to see him and I’m hoping to see other family members. It’s funny how both my father and I have the feeling we’ve known each other forever even though it’s only been 7 months. I have to remind myself constantly of all the work it took to find him.

I’m so happy I met him and had the strength to go through all this. I now understand better who I am and why I am the way I am. And now for the first time in my life, I have a picture with both my parents!

I’ve heard and read stories of reunions that didn’t go well but I can say mine did. All stories are different and mine is not perfect but it’s mine and I ‘m happy with it. My relationship with my father is developing slowly because of the distance and I’m fine with that. It was all worth it!

“It’s A New Day for Those Good Old Dreams…” The Carpenters