Chris’ DNA Surprise

Sometimes the connections that we make on our DNA surprise journeys extend beyond immediate family – and sometimes, they’re beyond ourselves. In this week’s episode, Chris shares how his quest to find his biological father connected other family members with each other.

He discusses how he finally found out who his biological father is and how never knowing his father as a child affected him.

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Episode Transcript

Transcripts are AI-generated and may not reflect the final episodes.

Chris: [00:00:00] I still have a hard time making sense of it. What are the odds of, you know, me ending up here having that desire in my heart, having that need in my heart to know and. And I end up at the very spot. Um, you know where, where my, my line, my father’s line. Pretty much, you know, a lot of it started.

Alexis: Imagine spinning into a tube, sending off your DNA, and unknowingly turning your life upside down for me and thousands of others. This is our reality. I’m your host Alexis Hourselt. In July 2021. I discovered that I am an N P E someone who has experienced a nonpaternal event. In other words, my biological father isn’t who I thought he was.

This podcast shares the journeys of people who are shocked by A DNA discovery, mostly through modern DNA [00:01:00] testing. We’re telling the stories of NPEs, adoptees, and donor-conceived people and their families. This is DNA surprises. 

Sometimes the connections we make on our DNA surprise journeys extend beyond immediate family and sometimes beyond ourselves.

In this week’s episode, Chris shares how his quest to find his biological father connected other family members with each other. He discusses how he finally found out who his biological father is and how never knowing his father as a child affected him. Thank you for sharing your story, Chris.

Chris: My name is Chris, originally from Virginia.

I’m 49 years old, father of five, moved to New York probably about 10 years ago to be closer to my wife’s family. When I was growing up as a kid, I was one of four kids that my mom had and I was the youngest. [00:02:00] Early on from as young as I can remember. My mom, um, had told me that I, I had a different father from my siblings.

And, uh, she was, she was honest about it. She said it was, um, pretty much basically one night with my biological father. She didn’t have a lot of information about him. Um, I’d always asked, you know, growing up, cause I’d always, you know, wondered who my father was. As a young boy, I always had, you know, that desire inside me to know who he was and just figuring one day, you know, maybe he’d, he’d see me or I’d see him and recognize him, and it’s just, and I guess there’s little games that you play as a kid that, you know, your hopes and stuff, but, you know, it never, nothing ever came to fruition.

You know, as I got older, like I said, it was always in the back of my mind how I wanna, you know, try to find out who he is, I didn’t who he was, if it was a one night relationship. So, you know, as technology started evolving more, I, you know, I would search and, uh, early on in the internet days, I would search and, uh, you know, nothing ever panned out.

[00:03:00] My mom had a first and last name, said he was in the military, lived next to my grandparents in Alexandria, Virginia. So I, and his name wasn’t really common. Um, so I, I kind of. I went through my searching. I, I would search for a man with, with that information and that, that lived in that area in 1973 when I was conceived, like I said, it, no, I really had no, uh, no results that came, you know, from that I kind of gave up.

And then about, I wanna say about 12 years ago when I met my, my now wife, I had told her, you know, about, you know, my search and about wanting to know who he was, and she kind of tackled it and she’s probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life. Very, very thorough and analytical in her approach to things.

And I mean, she really, when she, when she has something, um, that she’s looking into, she really goes all out. And so she, she spent a, a great amount of time searching and, uh, had a couple hits that I thought was possible that it might be him. But then again, nothing ever panned out. So I, [00:04:00] at that point, I was, I was, you know, I kind of was, resigned myself to the fact that I was never gonna know who he was.

Alexis: How’d you feel about that? Because, you know, it was decades of you being curious and wanting to meet him. So how did you feel when you resigned yourself to, this isn’t gonna happen. 

Chris: It, it was tough. Um, I, because at that time I had three kids, uh, I have five children now and I know for me, I could not imagine my children not being in my life.

I thought, well, maybe he just doesn’t know. Maybe he’d wanna know me and you know, and it was just so hard for me just to let go of that cuz there was that little boy inside of me that still was inside that, you know? I tell people it’s hard for them to understand it, but there, you know, there’s always been that little boy inside of me that wanted to look at his father.

You know, and, and I, I just couldn’t imagine, you know, not my kids not having that. So it was hard for me to let go and accept that and, and I don’t think I ever did. And as time moved on, technology started advancing more. And, uh, I had a couple more [00:05:00] kids and I had moved to New York and, you know, things were going well in my life professionally.

And I kept seeing the Ancestry DNA ads on TV and, you know, it a hundred or whatever it was. I’m like, wow, I spend more than that just going out for dinner. You know, mean, why not? You know, just take a chance. So I did, I, it was in, uh, beginning of.

And I had found out that on my mom’s side, my great aunt who was 89 at the time, I had found out she had taken an ancestry test and her daughters had taken one. It’s just kinda like a family type little project they were doing. And so I knew that when I did the test and sent, sent it back, I knew that they would show up as matches from the research I was doing.

I knew that, you know, it made sense to me that anybody that matched to me that weren’t also common matches to them had to be my dad’s side.  Um, that’s what I was thinking. And so I just started, you know, I sent the test back in and I just started, um, nervous obviously, and, you know, anxious for the results to [00:06:00] come back.

And I, I started researching a lot on my my mom’s side, I took a road trip to where that line of family was from, and I asked cousins and everybody else around, Hey, did you remember my mom ever with, you know, a certain person around this time? And nobody had any answers. You know, it’s so long. It was September 18th, 17th, it was actually the 17th and it just turned into the 18th, right after midnight when my phone beeped and it alerted me that my matches were ready to be viewed. So I was excited. I was hoping I would have second, third cousin match or something, and, and then I would’ve to figure out the legwork to try to, to, to match it back to, you know, a specific line, you know, biological family.

Um, I still don’t know exactly how all that’s done, but I’ve, you know, people that I’ve worked with, with, uh, with some different Facebook groups, that’s helped me out. So I was hoping for, you know, a match like that when I woke my wife up to share the results and opened up the app and my great aunt did show up.

Um, she showed up as my third highest match and there was two above her. And I [00:07:00] looked and they weren’t matches to my great-aunt.  And we had shared more than doubles. And I was like, wow, who are these people? And it’s the, uh, the, the app said, uh, close Family First cousin. It was the range that they gave us.

So, uh, then I looked, uh, somebody had told me on the, the one Facebook group to go and look at, um, DNA Painter Tool online. And, and when I put the Center Morgan amount in, uh, it said that we could only be one of, um, a few different relationships and. Um, aunt, uncle, uh, half sibling grandparent. 

Alexis: So this, so this tool that you used, you put in the Santa Morgan relationship and then it tells you how the, you would be related.

Chris: Absolutely. And it was a hundred percent that it could only be one of those relationships based upon how much that we shared. Um, so now I’m, I’m super nervous. I’m like, oh, wow, you know, My immediately, you know, I got a couple hours of sleep and the [00:08:00] next thing I did was I, um, the app lets you message, um, you know, different, different, uh, matches, different profiles, and then it’s on them whether or not they wanna respond.

So I immediately sent out two messages for, you know, one for each one. And I, I was kind of nervous cause I didn’t wanna scare anybody. I didn’t wanna open up any wounds or any, I didn’t wanna, you know, intrude on anybody’s life. And so I prefaced my email with that. I said, hi, you know, I, I’m just looking for some answers.

I. You know, I’m not some crazy person, or I’m just trying to figure out how we’re connected and, you know, if you’d like to share some information, I would appreciate it. You know, I had my fingers crossed at that point thinking, you know, hopefully somebody, you know, one of them responds and both matches, uh, one of them had a public tree listed that I could view, and there were, there weren’t many names on it.

Um, and it only shows you, it’ll show you the most, like, uh, the most recent person that passed away. It won’t show you anybody living. So I took [00:09:00] those names, that name, that main name of that male. And, uh, I started running every search I could on, uh, you know, Facebook and Google, you know, everything. And just trying to build up some more information.

And, uh, you know, it listed where he had died at what year, um, and I found him. I found his obituary.  And started going through names on the obituaries, you know, the kids and all that stuff. And it just opened up so many other doors. Well, I think it was the next day on the, uh, the 19th, I believe it was the 19th, um, one of my, one of my, one of my matches responded and she said, uh, wow.

First cousins. And, uh, that was because of the range. It said she thought that we were first cousins. So we went back and forth and, um, I found out she was right around my mom’s age. So that eliminated several of the possibilities, you know, and wasn’t my grandparent, and she wasn’t, uh, you know, my niece or nephew.

So it, it [00:10:00] ended up being, you know, either my aunt or my half sibling based on, you know, going back and forth and information that she, um, you know, she, she gave me, I found out that, uh, she was one of 10 siblings in that family. 

Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. So a lot, a lot more work to do to narrow down then?

Chris: Well, not, not so much because, um, what happened was that, uh, the 10 siblings, there were only four boys.

Um, though at this point though, like I said, I wasn’t aware that she was my, she, you know, what relationship we were together. It wasn’t until I cross-matched and, and stuff and eliminated people that I could figure out that yeah, you know, who she was. But, but I did find out, I narrowed it down and eliminated any possibility that she could be anybody.

But, uh, but my aunt. And the reasoning why was because, um, I shared DNA with her mother. Mm. And there was no way I would ever share DNA with her mother cuz I’d only have my mother and his DNA, my grandfather’s. If we were half [00:11:00] siblings. Right. But I didn’t shared, I shared the DNA with, with her and I explained it to her.

I said, you’re my aunt. There’s only, that’s the only possibility, you know, the possible way, you know, it was a revelation. I was just like, wow. So they, she was shocked, you know, obviously. And I was so grateful and she, that she was willing to, you know, talk to me and share information. And we spent a lot of time on the telephone.

Probably the first call, we spent like three hours and I had learned about her brothers and she had four brothers. Uh, one had died. 1968 previous to my conception. So that eliminated one, one is only nine years older than me. So that eliminated the other one. And, uh, that left two brothers remaining. One. Um, my mom had said the man she had dated, she was 26 at the time when she, she conceived me.

Uh, and she said that this man was her age and was in the military. Um, so these last two brothers, one was her age and one had, you know, he had also been in the military. The other one was only 17 [00:12:00] at that time, so too young to be in the military. And my mom said she never dated, she never dated younger guys and you know, so, okay.

And, uh, you know, okay, well I know who my dad is now, you know, and, um, You know, I started researching everything I could on this man and, uh, wasn’t much, you know, that I could find through public records. And, uh, the family, um, my match, my aunt, uh, she hadn’t talked to him in probably 30 years. She said to me, she said, well, you have a sister.

And I was like, wow, really? And she gave me a name and I’d started running background checks on everybody in this family, you know, to try to figure out anything I could that would lead me to some kind of answers. And I had had quite a bit of information. Um, So I knew the name as soon as she said it, and, uh, I knew that, uh, I knew who she was, but I didn’t know she was, you know, how she was related to me.

So, you know, we, you know, we went back and forth, me and my aunt sharing stories, you know, not sharing stories, but, you know, tell her a little bit about myself and her telling me a little bit about, you know, her family and, well, I [00:13:00] had also shared with her about Jen, uh, girl Jennifer, um, my sister. She, um, I shared with her some locations that, that, you know, during my background searches that I’d ran, you know, where I thought that she was at, in, in the areas and, and, uh, 

Alexis: So your aunt didn’t have contact with your half sister either.

Chris: No. No, she, she, child and, uh, you know, hadn’t seen her brother in 30 years. Um, this, the family is kinda, they’re not real closeknit, kinda like the kids left home early, you know, when they were young and didn’t really stay in touch with each other so much. So I had shared that information with my Aunt Dorothy and gave her the information about where I thought Jennifer was two different places.

I was pretty sure based on just, you know, records and stuff that I found. The next day I came out of a meeting, it was around noon, and uh, I looked at my phone and there was a. A message from my Aunt Dorothy. And then that message was a picture of a man, uh, sitting with four women. Question. I sent her a message back.

I [00:14:00] said, what, who is this? She said, that’s your father. And, and, you know, and us girls when we were younger. So I was floored. I was like, wow, you get this, you know. And um, I called her back and she had told me she had gotten up that morning and decided she was gonna go look for Jennifer. And she got in her car and drove about close to an hour to uh, the area where I thought that Jennifer was.

And the first door she knocked on, um, woman answered and she told, looking for my niece Jennifer. And um, she and niece. Wow. Brought inside. It was, it was. It was a, it was an amazing help. 

Alexis: And you did that. You brought them together. That’s amazing. 

Chris: What’s more amazing. Oh no. What’s more amazing to me is this woman had the goodness of her heart.

Got up in the morning and this decided she was gonna help me. You know?  That, that, that is where just an unselfish amazing, you know, gesture to give some [00:15:00] stranger. So she, you know, they talked and, uh, Dorothy explained to Jennifer, well, you have a brother, you know, and she was floored. She was like, no way.

And, uh, so she had. Said, well, were you willing to talk to him? And she said, yeah, you know, me and Dorothy had talked, you know, she was sharing me this information, gave me Jennifer’s number. And, um, later on that night, I was at my hotel. Cause I, I do sales and I travel a lot and stay, you know, a lot of hotels.

And that night I called her up, called Jennifer up and we spent like three hours on the phone and, uh, it was an amazing call. And I felt something I hadn’t felt probably ever in my life, except maybe with the birth of my children. It felt like, wow. I was kinda like whole, and it was just so hard to explain.

I felt so full inside, you know?  That somebody wanted to talk to me, you know, wanted me as a family member. And it was just a great conversation. And, um, one of the things I remember, um, she was telling me about her father. She said, Chris, she said, I wish, you know, she hadn’t talked to him in [00:16:00] like 10 years.

She didn’t know where he was. She didn’t, uh, had a number for him or anything. Um, and she said to me, she said, I wish that I could tell you that our father was a good man. You know, I wish that it would be the ending that, that you’d hoped for, that I could tell you this and that, you know, you’d find that everything was great and he’d want you and this and that.

And she said, but I, I can’t tell you that cause he wasn’t there for me. And it breaks my heart. Said, I said, Jennifer, I said, stop. I. It breaks my heart for you. You know, yesterday I didn’t have anything. Yeah. Today I have, I have more today with all the lumps and, and all the, you know, the bad, you know, or whatever the imperfections are.

I have more today than I’ve ever had in my life, so I’m only grateful. You know, I feel bad for you. Anything you’ve been experiencing, because I know I’ve never known this Amanda, you know? To feel any kinda let down or anything like that. So, but the compassion that she showed by [00:17:00] even saying that was just profound to me.

And it, it just made me think, wow, I’m, I’m lucky to even know you. Yeah. You know, I mean, 

Alexis: What else did you learn about your biological father? 

Chris: Well, I mean, he was in the service and, uh, he was overseas and he came back and. Kind of bounced around and had a serious drinking problem and uh, you know, never really did anything with himself.

And kinda like, just after, I guess he got outta the service, um, it was, uh, he kinda gave up on life a little bit and was complacent and was like just satisfied with just the bare bones of living. And it’s, it’s foreign to me cause I. Couldn’t even imagine living a life like that. But I don’t know what he’s been through.

And so, you know, she didn’t know a ton. I mean, just a little bit cuz he was never really there for her when she was younger. You know, he’d come around every once in a while, but it’d been a lot of years, like I said, at least 10 years since they had seen each other or spoken to each other. And, uh, I told her what I knew [00:18:00] about, you know, like I said, based on my, you know, us looking up into stuff, you know, where I thought he was and a little bit of information that I had on him.

But I asked her, I said, you know, I said, would you take an Ancestry test as well, just so we can, you know, just. Narrowed down everything. And you know, she said, yeah, absolutely. So I went ahead and ordered her one, had that sent to her and she took the test and sent it back in. And you know, meanwhile, while we’re waiting, I’m still doing research and trying to find out where this man is.

His name’s Tom. Pretty much I had it rather got 95%. Certain where I had him narrowed down to it was, it was getting to the point where, cause he was, he’s in his seventies and the back of my mind, I kept thinking, well what were, you know, if he’s, if he hasn’t taken care of himself and, you know, all these years and who knows how much time he has, I didn’t wanna waste more time.

You know, I wanted to try to find him and make contact with him. Uh, so he knew about me and I would’ve the opportunity to at least, at least to, um, say something to him so he knew, you know, that. And I knew if I waited too [00:19:00] long, you know, he might not be around, you know, to have that opportunity. So I, I decided, uh, I talked to my wife, I said, you know, I’m, I’m just gonna make the, and just go find this man.

So I, uh, booked flight and, uh, booked some tickets to airline tickets and a hotel room and rental car, and get all that done. And about two or three hours later on that afternoon, Jennifer, she messaged me and she said, my results are back. My phone just, you know, alerted me.  And I was like, wow, okay. I said, wait a second, just hold up.

You know, I’ll call you. And uh, I called her up and I said, alright sir, let’s go. Let’s go ahead and log onto our apps and, uh, logged onto our apps. And, um, my jaw hit the floor. It listed her. I think sharing, uh, less than the amount that I shared with my great aunt, and it put her in a category of when I ran the cms, uh, the centimorgans, there’s no possible way she could be my half sister, that she is, could only be my first cousin.

So [00:20:00] yeah, I was floored. So I’m like, where does that leave me? Well, there was only one other son and who was 17? And my mom, you know, swear that, you know, she was never with a younger man, and so this man was the only possibility. So now I’m like, what the heck is going on here? 

Alexis: How did you feel? I mean, did you feel sad?

Did you feel any relief maybe that Tom wasn’t your dad based on what you learned about him? 

Chris: It’s a mixture there. It’s, it’s funny you say that because I, I went back and forth. There was a little bit of relief, but there was a little bit of sadness because with Jennifer, Jennifer was, was pretty upset. She, you know, she thought she had a brother.

I told her I’ll always consider her. You’re like my sister. You know, I mean, we talk every day. Mm. And um, we got really close and I felt bad for her. And then, then you say about, you know, did I have any relief? And I did to an extent. I was like, wow, okay, well thank God, [00:21:00] you know, but to say that, You know, and I don’t want get to come, you know, sound malicious or anything.

Cause it’s just a, just a feeling that you go through and I don’t know. And so it went back to, you know, the 17 year old and I had already did research on pretty much everybody, but not too much on him because he had passed away in 1983.  And, uh, he was 27 when he had died. And the, the realization of that is probably what hurt me the most.

Is that, um, you know, I knew then it was, it was over that I would never have the opportunity to meet this man. And, uh, he would never find out that he had a son cuz I don’t think he knew. And, uh, just, you know, based on what my mom had said, So that in, in that, it was kinda like super, super upsetting. Cause I, you know, I’d always wanted that and for somebody to die that young.

And, uh, but I at least there, there was that relief that I knew, but now I had these tickets to go to Florida and to go down and meet Tom or to [00:22:00] go find Tom and, you know, cause I can’t refund the tickets. So I might as well go ahead and make the, you know, make the, uh, the trip down. And so I did. And uh, I flew down and um, and I was right exactly the first place I went to.

He was there and he was, he was, uh, I remember knocked on the next door. Uh, there was like a house that was split into two. Right hand side was the door, left hand side was the door knocked on left hand door. An old man answered and looked at him. Who? So what are you looking for him for? And I, you know, kinda briefly explained it and he said, oh, he is over there.

And he pointed to the door over there and he told me that kinda persistence. He, he lived, he, he drinks a lot and he might not respond. And so I knocked on the door and kind of yelled and inside and it, it was kind of brought up just a range of emotions because when the door kind of cracked open and the, the stench, you know, from the room and the, you know, it was [00:23:00] just, it just hit you.

And I said, you know, I called his name and he kinda got up and came out and he was disheveled and half blind and sat down and I explained who I was and there was some relief at that point for me. Yeah, you know, I felt incredibly bad for this man that he lived his life like that. Um, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Jennifer and, you know, the things that she was missing in her life.

And it was a tough meeting, but in a way it was good cause, uh, Jennifer was able to talk. I called Jennifer and she was able to talk to her for five, her father for the first time and over 10 years. And then, I called my Aunt Dorothy, and she got, she talked to her brother for the first time in over 30 years.

So there was some, some goodness that came outta that didn’t have a lot of stories about his brother. They, they were a little bit, you know, of a difference in age and, uh, they didn’t, they didn’t, you know, hang out a lot when he was young. So he didn’t have a lot of stories to share with me. But I was glad I did make the trip, you know, to, to get Jen, you, Jennifer got, you know, back into her father’s life and he [00:24:00] has since passed away.

 Um, passed away like about, um, 8, 8, 10 months after that meeting. And, uh, Jennifer was able to. Take care of his arrangements and everything, and at least they had some kind of relationship at the end. So I’m grateful for that. By this time too, I’m also talking to another one of my aunts that was my second match.

Um, and talking to cousins and I’ve actually met in person, um, a couple people. The trip, I think it was all the way around. It was good for everybody. Um, but I did feel that relief a little bit that maybe my dad wasn’t like that, you know, at least, you know, maybe he was. And like I said, I hate to say that cause it’s not been trying to put down this 

Alexis: It’s valid though.

Yeah, it’s valid. What, what have you learned now about your actual biological father?

Chris: Yeah, well he, um, he was in the military but he was not in the military at the time. My mom and him were together obviously cuz he would’ve been too young. He left home at an early age and, uh, he, [00:25:00] like I said, the other siblings had not seen him in years and it’s, you know, Since he was a kid, pretty much a teenager, he moved out mid to the Midwest and I did find a, uh, you know, death record for him.

And it didn’t list much information, but it told me where he had passed away at and, uh, you know, when and what city. So I went ahead and, and sent a request in with the state for his, his death certificate. And, uh, waited and couple months later, I, I did get that. I was hoping, uh, cause I had heard that he had, he was married at the time of his death and I was hoping that I would get a name of who he was married to and maybe try to find this person and, uh, hopefully they could tell me something about him.

The record came back a couple months later and, and sure enough, it, it did list, you know, a wife’s name. I waited though I, I didn’t do anything with it for a little bit cause I was unsure if I wanted to open up any more doors. I already had my answer and, you know, I don’t know what there was to gain out this, but I, [00:26:00] I did decide to probably a little bit later on I did decide to try to reach out and I was contacting him, but I could, uh, you know, on these reports that I ran the acquaintances and this and that and I got ahold of somebody that said they were real standoffish at first.

And uh, they were like, well, lemme see what I can do. And Elizabeth. Still just think it was the next day I get a, a message on my phone from that acquaintance person that I had contacted saying, Elizabeth wants to talk to you. Can you call at such and such time? And I was, yeah, absolutely. It was just an amazing, incredible experience when I, when I, when I called, um, it was her.

Her son, his wife, and one other person. These people were all in the house together with my father, you know, at that time when he was, you know, when he was alive and then when he passed away and they were shocked that he had a son. And, uh, these people were amazing. They, we spent probably two hours on the phone and they were sharing stories about my dad, [00:27:00] um, telling me, you know, different things about him, what he liked, and.

They were like, well, there’s no way he knew about you. He didn’t know about you, Chris. Because if he did, he would’ve been there.  He was a, he was a good man and, uh, you know, It was an incredible experience. I mean, that these strangers would take time outta their life to share stories about it. But man has been gone for so many years.

Decades, yeah. And they, they, for them to share those stories, you know, with a complete stranger, just a testament to, to the goodness of those people. And, uh, I found out, you know, how he’d passed away. He had died of an aneurysm. Which is a good bit of information for me to have, um, because one of, uh, my aunts had also died of an aneurysm, so I have five kids, and having that medical information is, you know, kinda important.

Alexis: Yeah. And it was an aunt on, on his side?

Chris: His sister, one of his sisters died the same thing. So, you know, having that bit of information was great. But they told me, um, that, you know, he had [00:28:00] been cremated and they still had his ashes after all these years. I was floored by that. It wasn’t until later they had asked me, um, for my address and.

I didn’t think much of anything, and I gave it to him. They said, you’re gonna send me something. And I kinda didn’t think of, think of it anymore. And a month or two passed and, uh, I come home from work, um, being on the road and there was a FedEx package there for me, or u ps package and, uh, opened up and it, and, and it, what they did is they had taken his ashes and they sent it to a company that makes memorials.

Mm. Like in the roses and stuff. And they had one of those made with his ashes and then had his name and his date of death and stuff on there. And, uh, sent that to me in, in a frame. And so that was like the first time I had my father there with me, you know, in a sense. Um, but it’s just an incredible thing that they did, and it’s just, it’s an amazing thing.

Um, so while, yeah, it was, I, I was floored. Uh, you know, I found out my father was 17. Yeah. You know, I’m, [00:29:00] I’m, I was grateful to find out he was a good man.  And he wasn’t, you know, he wasn’t some, you know, somebody that like, that kinda just gave up on his kid and, you know, like, like Tom did with Jennifer and, you know, I had went back to my mom during this whole process, you know, and, and, and that’s another delicate, you know, delicate dance you have to do when you’re dealing with issues like this.

Yes. You know, because I love my mom. You know, I love my mom and I don’t, I am not, who am I to judge her life, you know, and whatever she, you know, she’s done in her life. But, and I’d went to her and I said, mom, this, this, you know, this is my father right here. And she said, there’s no possible way. I would know I was there.

There’s no possible way, and I think she believes that, but there’s no other possibility. There’s no one else. Yeah. 

Alexis: Did she maybe just assume he was older based on how he looked or something? Or do you think she’s —

Chris: I’m, I’m thinking it’s one of those things where it could be, it’s, could be one or the other.

He could have, [00:30:00] I, I would sit there and say, I would like to think maybe he just looked older.  But if you looked at this picture when he was in the military, he looked so young.  So, I, I kind of discounted that. I, I kind of chalked it up more like maybe my mom was out at a party and something happened and she doesn’t remember.

And the reason why I say this is cause. You know, my other siblings, it was kind of funny. My sister, my one sister Sherry, she’s only, uh, 14 months older than me. So there were some, some holes and stories and information that I found contradicted things we were told. And I, you know, I talked to my sister and I said, I don’t think your father’s who you know.

I said, but whatever you wanna, she was like, oh, test to find, and so on. Mother’s. Her results came back and it wasn’t who my mom had said. And, um Mm. And the person that we found was her father, uh, ironically, [00:31:00] was my mom’s age, was in the service. He fit all of those things that my mom told me was real with me.

You know that my father, that information, so I think she had that bit of information mixed up, you know, that brief relationship she had with this man that fathered my sister. I think she kind of put that onto me. But in any respect, I, I didn’t push the issue much with my mom. Cause like I said, I love her.

And we all have wild times where we’re younger and, um, you know, and it’s, you know, I don’t wanna hurt my mom, but I, I sent her a picture of me and my, my father, you know, right beside each other. And, you know, anybody that looks at it can tell, you know, 

Alexis: Yeah, I, you sent it to me. And, uh, for listeners, they are definitely related.

Chris: So I let it go.

At that point, I didn’t, I didn’t wanna hurt her, you know, and I didn’t wanna push for anything else because she’s, you know, it’s been almost 50 years and she’s, you know, I’m sure she’s forgotten a lot of things. And like we all have, and when I was [00:32:00] first talking to Elizabeth and her family, um, on the phone, and they were telling me about my father and type of person he was, uh, They had asked me, you know, I, I was telling him my story about, you know, taking the test and you know, all the timeline of it.

And I said, yeah. I said, it was just, it was the 17th and it just turned into the 18th when my phone chirped. Uh, it was right after midnight. And, uh, the one son, Tim, he said, he said, what day was that? He said, so it was September 18th. And he said, he said to me, he said, that’s the day your father died. Oh.

Coincidence and, uh, you know, wow, that’s kinda weird.  You know, I didn’t think really much more of it, and until I started researching this family a little bit more, it was, it was kind of, it was kinda wild because I had never, when I, when I moved to New York, I knew nobody here. I lived in a small village of like 14,000 people, and I, I have no connections [00:33:00] here, no ties whatsoever.

But, um, I come to find out that my father’s parents, my biological grandparents on my father’s side, they met, married here, same place they lived here, got married here. Um, they didn’t start their family until they moved more towards Pennsylvania and it was wild. Um, so another aunt that I was talking to, um, her and her husband and family, they have a, uh, lodge every year in the summer they go to.

They invited me to go to this, um, like meetup, uh, with family members where they, you know, all get together every year. So I went and took my youngest son and, um, and met a lot of these family members, and it was, it was wild because I had ended up meeting a couple people that I had ran into previously in my town and this village, you know, at the redemption center turning in, you know, bottles and cans.

I met a guy and, and he’s there and I’m like, oh wait, wait a second. Her. Wow. Her cousin. Yeah, so I had met cousins and, and never even knew that we were related to them, you know, to each other. Just in [00:34:00] my everyday travel, which is wild. During this, uh, this get together, a lot of people kept telling me, they said, you know, a lot of the older generation, like ladies and guys that were there, they said, you know, you look like, just like your great grandfather.

You know, people are sharing a lot of, lot of different information with me at this point. Cause I’m like the talk of the family right now. You know, some, some kid and you know, they, a lot of people were, well, the sisters, the two sisters were grateful because they didn’t think. They thought my father had died without having any children.

Alexis: Elizabeth’s son was not his biological child, so that’s why people thought he didn’t have any biological children? 

Chris: She had, she had him previous to that, that marriage and uh, but he was, you know, he was a child in that home when, when my dad was there. So then the, the other aunt that I was talking to, her name is Libby, and uh, she’s the one that has the camp.

And, uh, when I went there, like I said, I was the talk and everybody, you know, wanted to hear the stories about, you know, how I found them. And all of them shared stories with me, you know, a little bit about stuff that they knew, which wasn’t a ton. Cuz these kids, like I said, all of them, there [00:35:00] was 10 kids and pretty much all of them, uh, left home early.

But they did tell me about my, you know, my. Great grandparents and great uncles and I, I had researched some on ’em, but not much. But everybody kept saying I looked like my great-grandfather. And, uh, I didn’t, you know, I was like, okay, whatever. And, uh, it was, wasn’t until later on that I was at home doing some research on Ancestry.

I decided to look into this ma’am to try to find out a little bit more information about him. And I did. And it shocked me to find out that, um, I could, uh, leave my house. I could. Opened my front door and, and walked to where he’s buried in like five minutes.  

Alexis: Oh my gosh.

Chris: Of all the places in the world I could end up, you know, I end up in a small, tiny town that I can walk to.

I mean, I bought my home here in 2014. Uh, test results came back like two years ago. So this wasn’t like, you know, something that I, it was just, it just stunned me that. What are the odds that I could walk to my, [00:36:00] not only great-grandfather, but my great-grandmother, my great uncles, my great aunts. They’re all buried at a cemetery that I can walk to in five minutes from my house.

And I, I was floored. Just like, wow. What are the chances of that? You know, I mean, they talk about, uh, I forget what the name of the word is. Synchronicity, maybe. I think it’s, yeah, synchronicity. I dunno. Somebody had said that one time. It’s just an incredible, credible coincidence. I dunno. I mean, I hate, I, I think I try to think of myself as, as a logical person and not put too much, you know, thought into things that don’t make sense where I have tangible proof of, of things.

But when things happen like that, it’s just like, it blows your way and, uh, yeah, I don’t know. Just makes me think maybe there is something, you know, beyond this and maybe something drew back to that. But I’m just incredibly grateful for the experience and blow my mind is, We’ve come so far as a society that you can spit in a little vial and send something back and have answers that you’ve wanted for so many years.

[00:37:00] There’s so many people like me out there that you know, that have that little boy inside of him or that little girl inside of. That live with it every day. You know, and it, and it, and it does, you know, some people do. It does cause problems. And you have issues as a person growing up because you know, you didn’t have your father, you didn’t, I mean, it’s not an excuse for anything, but you know, it does affect your life.

To think today that, that. It’s so easy to find out, you know, we can trace back our family. It’s just an amazing thing that, you know, society has done. I, I can’t speak enough about that, that technology, cuz like I said, I, I do finally feel some closure in my heart, you know, like that little boy is kind of grown up now.

You know, yeah. Kinda shut that door. I’m just incredibly grateful. And, you know, the communities that I’ve met through this process, um, you know, I’ve got a, got a lady in Colorado that has helped me, um, not only with my and my sister’s, uh, DNA, um, But I bought tests for another cousin of mine on my dad’s side that [00:38:00] never met his dad.

Tried to help him out Recently, uh, I did another test for another family member and she’s helped me tremendously. And this, these groups, they’re filled with a lot of volunteers, so there’s a lot of people out there that are willing to help to offer their time and stuff, and not seeking out anything in, in, in terms of, you know, Getting something back except the just joy of helping somebody else, you know, uh, close a, a chapter of their life that’s been open for a long time and I’m, you know, the incredibly grateful for the whole experience.

Alexis: You, I mean, it sounds like you, you dove right in and you are like an expert researcher now and figuring all this stuff out and getting all these background checks and you’ve connected with people. Do you still have questions? 

Chris: The main thing, here’s the main thing. Breaking down the, the history of this family and the brothers, the one thing that I, the one thing I haven’t let go of, right?

So the, the only possible way this 17 year old couldn’t be my, obviously we don’t have [00:39:00] DNA testing of him. He doesn’t have somebody else at Heber. He, you know, he was a father too, that we can compare anything.  So I have nothing that could go directly to him. So it’s an assumption. Um, there’s no other, other son, there’s no other one that it could be.

The only possible way is if my grandparents in the midst of having these 10 children had a secret boy that they shoved off somewhere that nobody ever found out about. That’s the only possible way anybody else could be my dad. Right. But the one thing that, the one question I, I wanna have answered and I haven’t found to this day is, and I haven’t put him there, is how did he meet my mom?

What was he doing in Virginia? Can I place him in Virginia? Mm. If I had that, then I think I would be totally content for the rest of my life. But I think that’s something that I will have forever. You know? I’ll have that thought. Uh, I mean, not that I doubt, I mean, I know this is, this is my family, a hundred percent.

And I know that this is my father, but I think I [00:40:00] would’ve liked to found out, you know, why was he in Virginia and how, what the circumstances, I wanted something to place him there with my mom, you know, in that timeline. Then I would’ve been like, okay, that seals it.

Alexis: Right. But uh, yeah, I think so many of us in this community, we have to accept that there’s certain things we’ll probably never know, and that’s hard, but it’s true. 

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. You know, there are, there’s certain things that you just have to sit there and accept and, and it’s like, it’s true with that. It’s one of the things they say, DNA doesn’t lie. People do.  Memories fade. You know, this and that. 

Alexis: So, so what’s next for you? Do you still have a pretty strong relationship with your newfound family?

Chris: No, I do, I talk to, actually, I was just chatting with, uh, a third aunt that, that is one of the younger aunts. She, uh, texted me just probably about 10 minutes before we started talking. Um, today I’ve been down two years in a row now to this camp that we go to. Um, I talk to a lot of cousins. I talk to Jennifer all the [00:41:00] time, uh, and I see her every time I’m in that area.

Some of my accounts, are pretty close to where she lives. So I, I tried to get down there and, and take her out to dinner and we’ll spend some time together. And, you know, I seen, uh, coming back from Thanksgiving from Virginia, um, I went, uh, on the way back home and stopped at my other aunt. The first one o Aunt Dorothy that I’d spoke to.

I stopped and introduced her to my children for the first time and spent time with her. Yeah, we have a great relationship and talk quite a bit. They’re very, very happy to have me and their family and, you know, include me on things and think about me and call me outta the blue. And that makes me feel pretty good.

You know, I’m just incredibly grateful that strangers would be okay with sharing their life with me, you know? And, uh, in that respect, I mean, some people think, you know, it’s, it’s disappointing yes, that I’ll never meet my father. But I’m grateful because there’s people out there that, that are in this situation that they might not have doors open for ’em and say, you know, Hey, we wanna know you too.

You know, you’re family. I, I consider myself, [00:42:00] you know, incredibly grateful and, and, and lucky that I had the experience that I had, even with the, the hiccups and the, you know, the surprises and the issues that kind of, you know, set me back a little bit about not meeting him and you know, him being gone and, but just, uh, I mean, I have so much more now than I did before I took that test, I have so much more now and, and it cost me a hundred bucks. 

You know, it just an amazing, amazing thing. I’d encourage anybody that had questions to just dive into it and, and, you know, there’s so many people that are willing to help you and, and, um, you know, we deserve, I think, as people to know who our fathers, mothers, and family are.

And we don’t deserve to hurt each other. We don’t deserve to, you know, intrude on people’s lives. I. I, you know, well, or cause problems. I don’t know. It’s one of those balancing acts. But we deserve to know. I mean, I deserve to know who my dad was, you know? And I’m grateful that I took the journey. So, you know, you can’t, can’t leave those questions go, you know, cause like [00:43:00] I said, that boy was inside of me living for a long time.

And now, fortunately, uh, you know, Things are a lot better. 

Alexis: What advice do you have for a parent who might be keeping a DNA surprise from their child? I’m interested to hear your perspective because your mom was sort of honest with you about your birth, but then maybe not so much about who your father is.

So what advice would you give your young mom? 

Chris: Wow, it’s such a delicate dance. You know, it’s, it really is because I, my mom was 26 and already had three kids when she got pregnant with me, and it was a different time and it was a different, you know, I don’t know why she stuck with her story and maybe she didn’t know.

And so it was kind of one of those things where, you know, but if you know and you have a surprise and you’re keeping it. Try to understand, and I know it’s probably hard for you to put yourself in somebody else’s [00:44:00] position, but you just gotta be honest. I mean, I, I couldn’t imagine, you know, keeping a secret like that.

But I, who am I, I mean, I don’t know, you know, circumstances of people, it’s, it’s such a, it’s such a tough question cuz circumstances are, you know, are so different for everybody. Why was the information kept? Was it protect somebody or was it to It’s one of those, I, I can’t really give you an honest answer cause I’m all over the place on that.

You know? I mean, for me, I wanna know. I mean, if, if somebody, if, if, if my mother had that information, I’d wanna know it, you know? I mean, I deserve to know it. I feel like that, but her reasons are her reasons, you know? I dunno. Yeah. 

Alexis: That’s fair. And what advice do you have for someone who is just embarking on this DNA surprise journey?

Chris: Well, first of all, just. Go full force at it. The only answer that you know, I mean, you’ve gotta go searching if you, you wanting, you know the true story, but I say this, just be prepared. The doors you open up, you’re gonna open up doors that you probably didn’t [00:45:00] expect. I mean, I know I did. I opened up some doors that, I mean, we haven’t even went into.

And, uh, you’ll find surprises along the way a lot of times, and they might not be very good surprises that will sit flattering to, you know, people. And, um, you might learn things that that, that you’d probably rather would not know, but, you know, I’d rather know things and, and know, you know, have some finality in my life with answers than, uh, Not.

So, I, I would encourage anybody just, uh, if you’re on the cusp, I mean, take that chance. I mean, what do you have to lose if you really, if you really want that information, you really want fi finality on, on some answers in your life, then, then, uh, like I said, technology is some come, come so far now that, that we have these options and, and there’s so many people willing to help out, you know, but, uh, it’s been an incredible ride.

Alexis: Well, Chris, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your story. I think it’s incredible to hear how you’ve connected [00:46:00] so many people who maybe had lost touch throughout your journey and the connections that you’ve made here yourself. As you have, you know, moved along and I wish you the best and continued connection with your family.

Chris: I really appreciate the opportunity to come on and tell my story and, um, hopefully, hopefully maybe inspires somebody else that, that, you know, has lived with, with not having answers. It inspires them to take the journey and, and, you know, to, to get what they deserve. And that’s to, to find out, you know, their own answers. But thank you. I really appreciate it. 

Alexis: Thanks again to Chris for sharing his story. If you have a DNA surprise story that you’d like to share, please email

Until next time.


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