May 3, 2024 - Ancestry

A Mother and Son Reunion

It’d been 43 years since the last time Kim held her son. 

In all those decades, she wondered what had happened after she’d given him up in a private adoption as a scared 15-year-old girl. Kim’s life turned out well: She married and has two wonderful daughters and grandkids, but the thought of her son and the questions never left her. 

A Good Person

Did he have a good life? Did his parents love him? Was he happy?

“You know, the only thing I could ever think about in my head was, ‘I just want him to be alive and be a good person,'” Kim said.

Kim and her son Jason soon after meeting in person for the first time.

With the help of 23andMe and her daughter Jenny, Kim could answer those questions. Most importantly, she was able to embrace her son, Jason, for the first time and see the wonderful father and person he’d become. 

Their first in-person meeting was at a gas station near Des Moines, a random halfway point between where Kim had been in Minnesota and Jason in Missouri. Kim found a friendly cashier to record the moment on her cellphone, and you can hear the cashier’s sweet comments while she’s filming. 

A Long Embrace

In the video, you can see their minute-long embrace in the aisles between the chips and soda fountain and the emotion welling up in them. Kim cries and pulls back to look into Jason’s eyes and touch his cheeks as the two — mother and son — soak in the moment.

For Jason, it was the first time he had looked at someone besides his kids who looked like him. 

“That was like, ‘Wow,'” he said.

Their story was unexpected for both of them. Jason always knew he had been adopted, but he wasn’t looking for his biological parents. Raised in a loving Midwest home with four siblings, who also were adoptees, Jason didn’t feel the need to go searching. He had questions, but he wasn’t looking. 

Then, in late 2022, his wife, Elizabeth, gave him a 23andMe kit for Christmas. The two, who met and fell in love in high school, have three children and one grandchild. Elizabeth survived a breast cancer battle starting in 2019, and now in their 40s, the couple wanted to know more about their health. 

Looking for Health Information

Jason, who had no family health history, thought it was vital for him and his children.

“If you grew up with a mom and dad and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and grandparents, you’d know if there was anything you should be aware of,” he said.

Jason used 23andMe to see if he had any genetic predispositions that would concern him or his three children and one grandson.

“So, the motivation was, ‘ Let’s (learn more) for (the kids) sake,’” he said.

He did get some health information indicating a higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, but he’d also opted into DNA Relatives. Opening DNA Relatives, he saw someone matched as a predicted niece. He messaged her almost immediately, and he got a response.

“I’m not your niece. I’m your half-sister. Our mom’s name is Kimberly.”

Someone Searching for Me

Kim’s daughter Jenny knew all about her mom giving up a son at 15. She was able to fill Jason in on his biological mom’s life.

“It was unbelievable, you know, because I wasn’t looking for one, and it happened so fast,” Jason said. “It was literally within a minute or two that she responded, which blew my mind.”

The two quickly connected on the phone and talked. Jenny was in Nebraska, and Jason was at home in Missouri. So much was loaded into Jenny’s response and their conversation on the phone.

“Like, I just had no idea that there was somebody out there looking for me, you know? So, yeah, it’s hard to imagine all that when you’re an adoptee,” Jason said.

Mom, Are You Sitting Down?

They’d talked in the evening, but Jenny waited until morning to call Kim.

“Mom, are you sitting down,” she said.

Kim, concerned something was terribly wrong, sat down and braced herself. Her husband stood by, concerned.

“Mom, I found your son,” Jenny said.

“We were both crying and talking,” Kim said. It took me a while to catch my breath, but as soon as I did, I called (Jason), and it’s been like it was all meant to be.”

They eventually arranged to meet in person. Kim and her husband now live in Florida but had been in Minnesota and were on a road trip to see their daughter in Nebraska, so she and Jason arranged to meet at a road stop gas station about midway. 

Building a Relationship

For Kim, getting to know Jason, learning about his upbringing, meeting his family, and having them embrace her has given her peace. She’s building relationships with them that are expanding her family. Jason and his wife have visited Kim and her husband in Florida. They all spent time with Jason’s family in Missouri.

“His entire family was there to meet us, and I cannot tell you how nervous I was to meet them, but I got the best hugs and love from everybody,” Kim said. “I’m so thankful these lovely people adopted Jason.”

They’re trying to build new family traditions, but Kim said there isn’t a rush.

“I don’t need to hurry anything,” she said. “We’re a family now. We’re together, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Jason knows that many adoptees never get the opportunity to meet their birth mom or build a relationship. Maybe they never connect; if they do, it isn’t a welcoming experience.  

“I didn’t even realize anything was missing in my life, but now I feel complete.”

Discover more with 23andMe

Not everyone is searching for family, but 23andMe’s Ancestry Service can help you learn your genetic connections to more than 3000 geographic regions or your connections to DNA Relatives with whom you share DNA.

If you want to go deeper, 23andMe Health + Ancestry gives you all the great insights of the Ancestry Service, plus more than 150 personalized reports with information to help you manage your health.

Learn more about all that 23andMe offers here.

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