23andMe Reunites Yadira’s Family

Yadira Riveria in an undated photo.

Yadira Rivera, a strong independent woman, always told her three young children about the daughter she gave up before they were born.

 

Her children — Daniel, Marcos, and Raquel — never forgot that they had another sister out there. They remembered, even after the trauma of losing their mom. Yadira died after being struck by a police car chasing a suspect on the street in front of their home in San Francisco. They were young — 8,9 and 11 — but they remembered their mother’s reflective tone as she told them about having to give up her infant daughter.

 

“Whenever she talked about it she got very somber,” said Daniel.

 

They learned that Yadira had gotten pregnant at 17, and was forced to give up her baby. Daniel, Marcos, and Raquel always knew their sister was out there somewhere, they just had no idea how to find her.

 

“We said ‘we could meet her one day and not even know it was her,’” Daniel said.

On the left, Lucianna, as a young girl, on the right Yadira with her children, Daniel, Raquel, and Marcos.

The Search

They always hoped that somehow they might find her. Little did they know that their older sister was looking and wondering too.  


But Lucianna didn’t know she had a sister and two brothers. She was trying to find her mother.

 

Adopted by the daughter of the nurse who delivered her as a baby, Lucianna spent years wondering about her birth mother. She didn’t start looking in earnest until about eight years ago. At that time, she found names scribbled on the back of an her adoptive grandfather’s old business card. On it were the names of her birth parents and the the aunt her birth mother lived with in San Francisco.   Lucianna hired a private investigator who found an old address, and Lucianna sent a letter there but never heard back.


“After I sent the letter I just stopped looking,” she said.


But last year with her daughter Bianca asking more and more questions, and finally asking if they could use 23andMe to find out more about her mother’s ancestry, the search was reignited. Lucianna bought her daughter a kit as well as one for herself. Using other resources, Bianca was able to find Lucianna’s mother’s citizenship papers, divorce records and then her record of death. That last bit of information was a huge blow to Lucianna. She thought that was the end of her search.


“I had to emotionally let go,” she said, realizing that she would never get to meet her birth mom.


Finding A Connection

In the foreground Raquel, with, Marcos, left, Lucianna and on the right Daniel soon after all meeting in person for the first time.

But just a couple of weeks later, Bianca’s 23andMe results came in. Bianca saw that she matched with a man named Daniel, who at first was predicted to be a close cousin. He had also posted on 23andMe that he was looking for more information about his mother’s family who had come to the United States from Nicaragua, but had since passed away.

Lucianna, who had not initially opted into the DNA Relatives portion of 23andMe, opted in and immediately matched with Daniel, who was identified as a half brother. It was a surprise for both of them.

 

Daniel said he hadn’t expected to find any close family when he first tested. He wanted to know more about his mother’s ancestral origins.


“My twin girls … decided to purchase 23andMe for me as a Christmas present,” Daniel said. “I wanted more information about my Nicaraguan heritage. I had many unanswered questions, and I couldn’t go straight to the source.”

 

Daniel said he hadn’t expected to find any close family when he first tested. He wanted to know more about his mother’s ancestral origins.


“My twin girls … decided to purchase 23andMe for me as a Christmas present,” Daniel said. “I wanted more information about my Nicaraguan heritage. I had many unanswered questions, and I couldn’t go straight to the source.”


“She read my story and commented on how (the information about my mom) resembled her mother’s mother,” Daniel said.


Although the percentage of shared DNA indicated that Bianca might be a first cousin, Daniel noted her age, the amount of shared DNA and her Nicaraguan ancestry, and deduced that it could only mean one thing.


“After a few more messages I told Bianca that her mother might be my sister,” he said, still a little stunned by finding his long lost sister.


 

Meeting for the First Time

Luciana and Daniel were soon on the phone.


“The first thing he said was ‘I’ve always known you were out there,’” Lucianna said.


Just that idea alone was affirming for Lucianna, knowing that her birth mother loved her and passed that love for her to her children.


Daniel, who was already driving to California with his wife for their 20th anniversary, decided to take a detour to Davis to meet Lucianna and her family. When they first hugged, Daniel said it felt like he was holding onto a piece of his mother.


A month later, a few days from the 40th anniversary of their mother’s death, Lucianna was in Ohio with her children, visiting with Daniel, Marcos, Raquel, and all her new nieces and nephews.


“It’s been beyond belief,” said Daniel.


Lucianna looks so much like their mother that when they first hugged he didn’t want to let go. For Lucianna seeing the photos of her mother for the first time, seeing her eyes instantly connected her. Meeting and getting to know her siblings has transformed her.


”This has completely changed my life,” Lucianna said. “I am 53 years old. I feel so different. I feel rooted.”


As they gathered together one evening talking back and forth, Lucianna felt almost like they were all children again.


During the freewheeling conversation the lights kept dimming and Marcos said, ‘Oh it’s just the motion sensor,’ and Lucianna said, “No it’s mom.”


All of Yadira’s children were finally together like they should be, like she had always wanted.