Sep 1, 2015 - Ancestry

Mending a Broken Heart

When he was 21, Gary Skillings tried to contact his mother through a nun at the Catholic orphanage from which he was adopted in the 1950s, but she didn’t want to see him.


Gary Skillings' Photo

Gary Skillings’ Photo

“That was kind of a heartbreaker,” Skilling told the Sun Journal newspaper in Maine. “But I honored her wish.”

Although he longed to know more about his background and who his mother was, Gary didn’t search any further after that failed attempt to make a connection. But he was left with at least one bit of information, his mother’s first name, Aline. Fast-forward a few decades, Gary was able to use 23andMe and genealogical records to learn more about his mother, and connect with cousins he never knew he had.

His story, nicely told by the local paper in Lewiston Maine, includes meeting more than 50 relatives, cousins, aunt and uncles who welcomed him into the family.

“They had this reception for me and all these people showed up,” he told the newspaper. “They were all total strangers to me, yet all related.”

They shared photos and family stories with him. He learned more about his now deceased mother, Aline Mary Cotes, and his out-of-wedlock birth. He found a close cousin, who knew about his birth and actually knew about Gary’s effort to contact his mother so long ago. She had vowed to keep it all a secret.

Check out the story here.

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