One of the best gifts for Father’s Day is getting to spend some time with your son or daughter, especially if you haven’t been able to do that before.
This year, 23andMe brought together five fathers for a barbecue in Houston with children they connected with through 23andMe. For most, this was their first Father’s Day with a grown son or daughter they hadn’t known they even had, until discovering their genetic connection through 23andMe.
“It’s a miracle,” said Alex, who spent the time with his newfound daughter Esther.
Alex hadn’t known of her birth more than 28 years ago. It wasn’t until a cousin reached out — with whom Esther had connected with using 23andMe — that he learned he had another daughter.
“I’d always wanted another daughter,” he said.
For Esther, who’d been searching for years for her biological father, meeting him for the first time was life-changing.
She’d been nervous about meeting him for the first time, but almost immediately felt a sort of unconditional love for him. The connection with him was incredibly important for her, but it also meant her three young daughters now had another grandfather in their lives.
“And that’s all because of 23andMe,” she said.
Ben didn’t know of his son Adam Runyan’s birth 35 years ago. Ben was stunned when his son Levi, a 31-year-old corrections officer, called him to say he had another son to add to his family of two sons and two daughters. Ben said when he showed his 94-year-old mother Adam’s picture she said:
“That boy looks like you!”
What amazed Ben is that he immediately felt his heart open to his newfound son Adam, a counselor.
“I do have amazing children, and he fits right in,” Ben said. “To me, this is a blessing. Something I didn’t think was possible.”
Adam felt an immediate connection to his father and siblings.
For Ricky, who connected with his grown daughter Lisa McIndoo, it was hard to describe his feelings.
“Here she is, and she’s just beautiful and funny and bright,” he said. “I’m weak-kneed with emotion.”
Lisa, an adoptee who grew up in a loving family and became an Episcopal priest, felt finding her biological father was incredibly valuable. She loved her dad, the man who raised her, but like many adoptees, she always wondered.
“There’s really no way to describe how completing it can be to find a biological parent,” said Lisa, who had for years felt like there was a missing puzzle piece in her life that she’s now found “To spend Father’s Day together and to be here with him is almost unreal.”
For Larry, this was a different kind of Father’s Day, one that’s not easy to explain. He’d spent Father’s Day with his daughter Sherry, but this was the first one he’d spent with her knowing that she was his biological daughter. You see she’d been born just after he and her mom began dating. They’d assumed
that he was not her father, but he raised her as if she were. It never mattered to Larry or Sherry. Larry was her dad, whether he was her biological father or not. Almost 15 years ago, he’d even told her if she wanted him to take a DNA test to find out, he’d do it, but she told him no.
Then recently Sherry’s 37-year-old daughter tested. In looking at the surnames of DNA Relatives she
matched with on 23andMe, Larry knew almost right away that Sherry was his biological daughter. He and Sherry sent off a kit and soon confirmed it.
It was surprisingly emotional for them both.
“It was as if all the sudden I had a new daughter,” Larry said.
Sherry said they both realized that the result didn’t change the dynamics of their relationship, but “the truth is a powerful thing,” she said.
For Rebecca Bond, finding her biological father and getting to spend her first Father’s Day with him was immeasurable.
“Not having a father impacts you deeply,” she said.
Raised by a single mom, she was told her father had died. She had yearned for a dad, someone who would have been there to see her off for the prom, or walk her down the aisle during her wedding, or to be a grandfather to her son.
When she made a surprising connection with a half-sister and then found him, she was stunned.
“There are no words to express the feelings I have,” she said.
Thomas summed it up for everyone when he said:
“This is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me.”
Being a father is about more than just biology, but making those connections and understanding your history can be important in many ways.
To all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day from 23andMe.
Check out the stories from 23andMe’s Father’s Day BBQ here.