With the advent of websites like Ancestry.com, people who know little about their heritage and roots can now reveal almost everything about their past from a simple DNA test. These days, it’s so easy that folks can even do the DNA test in the comfort of their own home.
When John Gonsalves’ daughter Robin gifted him a home DNA kit from Ancestry.com, he was a little nervous but extremely excited to learn more about his European heritage which he knew little about. However, remarkable and life-changing revelations were just around the corner.
When it comes to buying an appropriate birthday gift for a family member, it can be a challenge to get them the right thing. As people get older and acquire more possessions, often it’s hard to buy a guy for a person who more or less has it all. But Robin wanted to get something special for her dad on his birthday and wanted to make it count.
While many people know where they come from, especially if they are born into an affluent or strong family unit, many other people don’t enjoy that privilege. John knew that his ancestors hailed from somewhere in Europe, but he didn’t know exactly where and knew very little about them. However, that was all about to change.
Ancestry.com is a genealogy website, in the business of genomics and biotechnology, based in Utah. As with many similar websites, members of the public can send off a saliva specimen and find out a bunch of information about their DNA and ancestry. The company uses cutting-edge technology to tell people more about their DNA and heritage; something John was excited to know more about.
John was raised by kind and loving parents and was afforded all the opportunities a kid could want in life. But John always had a nagging voice in the back of his head. Where did he come from? What was his ethnic background? So many questions were unanswered in John’s busy mind for many years.
When the birthday present arrived at John’s house, he experienced a bunch of mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was amazed that all he had to do was spit in a cup and put it in the mail to find out about his roots. On the other hand, he was nervous about the prospect of what could be revealed.
John went ahead and sent his saliva sample to Ancestry.com, waiting with bated breath for the results to come back. It was a good few weeks before John heard back, and during that time he often found himself daydreaming about the outcome of the test. But in his wildest dreams, he never could have foreseen the shocking news he was about to behold.
Jeanie Siciliano was born in 1977. Her mother, who was a single mother, was unable to care for her at the time and decided to give her up for adoption when she was just two months old. Jeanie was adopted by a loving and very caring family, and was very lucky to have been placed with such good people.
Jeanie loved her adoptive parents, but she had a constant curiosity as to who her biological parents were. At the age of 19, Jeanie embarked on a mission to locate her birth mother and father and was partially successful. However, finding one’s biological parents after so many years comes with its pitfalls and perils.
At 19, Jeanie felt she was mature enough and ready to find out who her real mother was, even though she had been rejected at birth. When Jeanie found her birth mother, it was a mixed experience for her and was indeed bittersweet. But Jeanie had only satisfied part of her curiosity and wanted to know who her real father was, too.
Looking for Dad
Jeanie explained to CBS News: “I did some searching … but I didn’t come up with any solid information. So I kind of put that all to the side.” Jeanie would have to wait for some time to find out who her father was, and it came in the most unexpected of ways. All her perseverance had finally paid off.
Jeanie also turned to Ancestry.com for a DNA test. As she explained to reporters “When I first opened my … results, and John’s name came up, and underneath it, it said ‘father,’ and I was, like, ‘Holy cannoli this guy is my biological father. Oh my gosh.'” It was at that point that she decided to write John a letter. But he was half expecting it as he had also done a DNA test which mentioned Jeanie as his daughter.
“It’s just as exciting to me to have a daughter who’s 40 years old as one that’s only one-month-old,” John told CBS News. But at first, John was sure it was some kind of scam as he couldn’t believe that the revelations were true. “I was stunned,” John said. And understandably so.
“I literally felt the world stop and the second thought was, this is a scam. There’s no way that I could have a child 40 years old,” he said. But when the pieces came together and John had a chance to reflect, he was moved to tears. All those years not knowing he was a father affected him in the deepest way.
John has no negative feelings about the news; other than the fact he had missed out on knowing his daughter for all those years. “I started to cry. I felt joy. I was like, ‘This is such a great gift.'” He said. But it would be a good two months before the long-awaited reunion would take place.
Just Three Miles
Perhaps the most ironic, and even painful part of the story was the fact that John and his long-lost daughter only lived three miles apart for the better part of eleven years. They shopped at the same grocery store and assumed that they must have crossed paths on numerous occasions. John and Jeanie couldn’t have been happier to have found each other.
John was beaming with pride and joy when he spoke to CBS News: “I get to chat with my daughters. It’s no longer singular. It’s plural!” Sure the years had passed, and the pair had missed out on a bunch of quality time together, but that was all about to change. As a believer in God, John said he thought that “divine intervention” had brought him and Jeanie together.
Thanks to Robin
Robin was the one responsible for the reunion as it was her who got the DNA test kit for her dad in the first place. “I knew that he wanted it, and I never know what to get him, and he had been talking about it … So I gave him the gift of another child basically for his birthday,” Robin told CBS News.
Motherly Role Model
For her part, Robin was seemingly as thrilled to have a long-lost sister as everyone else. After her mother died a few years ago, Robin felt lonely and was lacking a motherly role model. But, due to the circumstances, Jeanie was many years older than Robin, and that was a wonderful thing for them both, as well as perfect timing.
For Robin, finding Jeanie was a gift from heaven. “I think that when I lost my mom, the thing that I was most concerned about was … ‘How am I going to navigate my dating life … without my mom?” Robin said. “I don’t have too many women figures in my life but losing my mom was really hard. So it’s important to have women to look up to. So having someone like Jeanie is really nice.”
Jeanie also said she was excited to have been reunited with her half-sister. “Nobody can obviously replace your own mother but … maybe I can be there for her,” she said. “I’m also … super immature, so she’ll probably make better, more mature decisions than I will. I’ll be calling her, like, ‘Dude, there’s this guy, and I don’t know what to do.'”