An adoptee, Cody Harden turned to 23andMe to search for medical information. Little did he know that in his search he’d find more than just data about his health, he found family.
Cody, a 39-year-old software systems specialist, hadn’t tested with the intent of trying to find his biological family. It just happened.
“I had a great life and my adoptive parents were wonderful,” he said. “I didn’t know the circumstances of my adoption, why I was given up, so I didn’t know if it was good or bad. I didn’t really care to find my relatives.”
His search had really been about his health and wanting to learn about what, if any, genetic risks he had. So when he discovered that 23andMe had matched him to potential distant cousins, his reaction was lukewarm.
“I thought that was neat, but it was more of a novelty than anything else,” Cody said.
A little later, 23andMe matched him with someone that could be a fourth cousin. That caught his attention. He connected with his fourth cousin through 23andMe. The cousin didn’t know where Cody fit into the family but decided to start digging around.
“That kind of got the ball rolling, and eventually there was a second cousin, and poof! There’s the family,” he said.
His excitement grew as he got closer and closer to tracking down his half-siblings and parents. He learned that his father was fifteen and his mother only fourteen when they’d had him.
“They really didn’t talk about it for the next forty years,” Cody said.
He also grew more apprehensive.
“Are there going to be hard feelings? Did I ruin someone’s life?” he wondered. “Would they resent me?”
Then last spring he talked to his birth father for the first time, who encouraged him to contact his birth mother. It took a bit more work to track her down, but he eventually found and contacted her.
“I could tell she was so nervous and excited,” Cody said. “I felt for her.”
He discovered he’d grown up only 45 minutes away from her and his half brother.
“What a trip,” he said.
Cody says he felt an instant connection when meeting his half brothers and parents for the first time.
“In the last few months I learned a lot about genetics,” he said. “Personalities are just as much inherited as they are how you grew up.”
He looks more like his mother, he says, but he’s inherited his father’s outgoing, prankster personality.
He’s since visited with his half brother on his mother’s side several times, as he lives closer than his father and his father’s son. He keeps in touch with both sides by phone and intends on keeping up with that connection.
Still, it’s amazing to him to think that just last year, he had no idea who any of these people were.
“This is all really new to me,” Cody says. “It’s exciting to know that I’ve got half-brothers here and there, and I’ll try to make the most of it with whatever time I have left.”
Results not typical. Results vary due to unique differences in each individual’s DNA. On average, users receive at least one or two results that may help with proactively managing health. 23andMe’s services are not a substitute for professional medical or diagnostic advice.