Many have a story about their most memorable Christmas gift. HHS teacher Brandy McCarter has one to beat all.
This past Christmas her husband gave her a home ancestry DNA kit from the company 23andMe. He knew that her curiosity about her birth father had been building for years.
“At the age of 12 or so I figured out that my biological dad wasn’t correct on my birth certificate,” she told The Ville News recently.
She received her gift early, on Nov. 28 - Black Friday - and was so excited about the possibility of finding her biological father that she took the simple home test that day.
The results arrived Dec. 28, and she was stunned. She discovered 1,068 new relatives, including her dad’s first cousin. She started digging and got in touch with the first cousin, who in turn got in touch with her father.
He took a DNA test of his own, and the results came back on Valentine’s Day: a perfect match.
“The week after (Valentine’s Day), we arranged to drive to see them, they live in another state, so we went and I got to meet my dad, my grandma, my aunt,” said McCarter, who teaches architectural and engineering design.
When she made the discovery, she recalls crying from the shock of finally finding her dad after 25 years of wondering.
“I knew that my mom got pregnant with me in the military,” she explained. “She was in bootcamp, and she was in Florida and then she was sent to Hawaii, so I knew that he was in Florida and in the military at that certain time.”
So many things about the experience are overwhelming, but she is struck that she is his only child. She also imagines what this all must be like for him.
“He has had no other children this entire time and thought he had no children at all, and then 37 years later here you have a kid, a grandchild, an entire family you knew nothing about,” she said of her father, who is now 56-years-old.
Even though she lives in a different state, McCarter intends to maintain a close relationship with her dad and with the rest of her new family. She is working out details now for another visit.
“It’s not that rare, I’m not the only one that this has happened to,” she said. “You see stories all the time on Facebook and on the news and everything about people finding an entire family, and so even if there isn’t any luck on the first hit, don’t give up because other people can be added to that database and can show up as your relatives later.”
Next Christmas, McCarter probably won’t receive as memorable a gift, but she’ll have a whole lot more people to celebrate with.
Story by Ava Heeren and Mandy Pirtle