J.S.

"My name is Jennifer, born in April of 1975.  I am an adoptee.  I have been searching for my birth family since I was 18. I live in the Metro Detroit Area in Michigan. I had a closed adoption. Here in our state, adoptees who were born between 1968-1983 have records that are double sealed which has made my search extremely difficult. After years and years of watching adoption stories, reading adoption books, and going to support meetings, I was exhausted from hitting dead ends.

As years past I tried to keep up on laws changing and new breakthroughs. In 1995 I was able to hire a Confidential Intermediary through my state.  Within 6 weeks she was in contact with my birth mother.  My birth mother wanted no contact with me. The rejection was heart breaking.  Although I did find out during this time I had 2 older half sisters placed for adoption,  one out of state, but that's all the info I was given. After a lot of determination and strong will, I pursued the caseworker to look into this for me. Within 2 years I found both sisters - T. born in Ohio 1971 (raised in California ) & S. born in Michigan also (raised in Maryland ).  I met S. first in 2005. We were reunited because we both registered through Central Adoption Registry . It was an amazing connection at first; the one adoptees only hope for.  S. and I compared our non identifying info and decided to contact her caseworker to see about contacting our birth mother again hoping she would see 2 of the 3 were searching. After a short period our birth mother rejected us again. This time it was a major emotional let down.

A few years passed, my adoptive father said, Are you going to finish what you started?" I said, "What do you mean?" He responded, "Search for your birth father?"

I contacted my caseworker in 2008, completed the paperwork and waited.  I found out the birth father named had signed a petition at the time of my birth denying paternity and proved to NOT be my birth father when I searched....another dissappointment. I found this out the week of Father's Day 2008. My adoptive father passed away from cancer 2 months later. I never in my life thought I would ever find where I came from.

Last year (2015), I saw an AncestryDNA commericial. After a few times, I thought to myself "Omg , if I submitted my DNA, I may be able to find my biological family!" WOW!!! Hmmm..but I have no names ??

I got out my adoption binder after 7 years.  Dusted it off, gathered what info i had and started researching AncestryDNA along with checking out Facebook groups.  I ran across DNA NEWBIES, joined & read stories constantly. For my 40th birthday I told my husband I wanted a DNA test and explained all this amazon new information.   Ordered the test, submitted, and waited.... in the meantime I saw the DNA DETECTIVES group and joined that also. Once I received my results, I posted my info seeking assistance .  To my surprise, Cheryl Hester responded to me. Having false birth father info and no birth mother name at the time, and I had a 1st cousin match through AncestryDNA with the last name SMITH. I thought gee just my luck. With Cheryl's knowledge and expertise, we worked together endless hours, days and weeks.

While that was taking place, Ohio, where my oldest sister was born, released their original birth certificates. With my help, T. submitted the correct paperwork eight days after Cheryl and I were putting the puzzle pieces together. I received my birth mother's name, D.T.. Instant anxiety,  feeling every emotion possible.

I messaged the person who created my 1st cousin match D.E.S. as I now had a birth mother's name to go by and waited a few weeks. Cheryl was able to get through to her before me. She guided me with the tools and info on making my next steps. My 1st cousin matches wife was the administrator on the Smith tree. We uploaded our DNA to GEDmatch comparing one on one.. and found out my 1st cousin match was my birth father's side. We both carried an X chromosome which is passed from the mother to the son. My 1st cousin matches mother and my birth father's mother were full sisters.  Whoa!!  N. heard my story, shared it with her cousin , who is now known as my Aunt D. (birth father's sister). Both women live in San Diego, CA. One distinctive trait of mine is I'm a redhead.  N. told Cheryl that her husband has 2 redheaded male cousins who live in Michigan possibly fitting the description of who might be my birth father. With amazing support and guidance from Cheryl Hester , we were able to narrow down the gentleman.  With my known birth mother's name, I reached out privately to them. G.L. who is now my uncle responded first to my request and he spoke with his brother G. G.L. agreed to submit his DNA. Since both men were adopted by their stepdad they understood my longing to know my roots. If G.L. was not my birth father,  it would then be G. G.L. came back as 'close family match' .  My birth father never knew I existed. He asked for some time to get through his feeling of guilt that had he known he would of never left me behind.  A side note..While I was working through my DNA matches, I got in contact with my birth mother via email who gave me five possible birth father's names, none of which were my DNA match. A rare finding it was...

Fast forward to today - a little over a year now.  We have spent every holiday together, met everyone in his immediate family, introduced meas his "new oldest daughter ". They have embraced me with open arms. My dad, G., threw me a surprise (first) birthday this year since he missed the first 40.

No matter what obstacles I had to face,  brick walls, rejections, I NEVER gave up. Thank you, thank you to DNA and the amazing genealogist, Cheryl Hester,that helped me through it all." - J.S.