I received an email from a woman named Nelly asking to have one of my coin necklaces made. The piece she inquired about is one that I create using coins from all of the places a person’s ancestors come from. I was inspired to make my first one after I took a DNA test and learned of the many lands my people hail from.
In the email, she shared an amazing tale of how her husband who was adopted at birth has been in touch with his birth-mother and two sisters which up until 3 weeks prior, he did not know existed.
The connection was made through DNA testing and shocked everyone involved.
“This all happened three weeks ago. My husband has had many conversations with his new family. Although he was never looking, this reunion has brought much joy into everyone’s lives, especially his birth mom. They are going to meet for the first time next week here in SLC. We are flying his birth mom out to stay with us for a weekend and my husbands parents are coming into town to meet her as well!!! WOW this is crazy!!!
So I thought maybe a beautiful, thoughtful gift would be for the birth mom, her lost son’s heritage on a necklace?”
So happy to be asked to create something for this family, I jumped at the chance.
Judy was 16 years old and pregnant.
Family and friends pressured her to abort the pregnancy but she fought to carry the baby to term. Though she knew she had no way to take care of a baby, something in her heart told her not to terminate the pregnancy and in late March, she had the baby in the hospital by herself without support.
It was not an easy thing to do. During that time 16-year-old pregnant girls were taboo so the nurses were not kind to her during her time in the hospital. Judy’s doctor knew a family looking to adopt a baby so after the birth, lawyers arranged the details and made it happen.
The next day, Judy went home from the hospital and it seemed that was the end of this chapter in her life. Years later, Judy married and had a family. She had two daughters, Kate and Emily.
Judy’s life was a happy one, though her daughters always noticed she was melancholy in the month of March but they never knew why.
Kate and Emily grew up living in California.
For Christmas in 2017 they each received a DNA test from their aunt. They completed their online profiles, spit in the tubes and sent in their tests.
When the results came, they were shocked and confused by what they learned.
The test results indicated that there was a 97% match for a sibling living in Utah that they were unaware of. A brother.
Full of questions, they ask their mother and begin to learn about a painful secret Judy had been keeping for so many years. They learn about the early pregnancy and adoption and are curious about this brother they didn’t know they had. They began searching for information about him.
They were able to find him on Facebook and looking at Jason’s Facebook profile, it was easy to see that his life was a good one.
They learned about his family, and his love of skiing and the outdoors. He seems like a person anyone would be happy to know or to be related too.
Jason knew he was adopted since he was a young boy.
He was raised by loving parents in a family with 3 brothers. He was happy. He never wondered much about his birth parents.
As an adult with a wife and family of his own, questions would sometimes arise about family health history when filling out medical forms, and there were questions from his children about where certain physical traits came from, things like olive skin and brown eyes.
When at-home DNA kits started becoming mainstream, Jason’s wife Nelly suggested he take one.
He wasn’t interested. Who knew where that door would lead? Better to keep it closed. After all, his life wasn’t lacking in anything. He was happy and thriving. He had no desire to explore these unknowns.
After a few years, his wife and children were still curious about Jason’s nationality. When they asked if he would consider taking the test again, he relented.
When creating his online profile, Jason thought he checked a box to keep the results private but had not. When the results arrived, the family was delighted to learn that his roots are in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and American Indian. With their questions answered, everyone moved on satisfied with this new knowledge.
A few months later, the phone rang at home and Nelly answered. The caller was a woman hesitantly asking if she was speaking to Jason’s wife. She then said,
“This will probably be the weirdest phone call you have ever received, but I think I am your husband’s sister.”
Knowing Jason’s feelings about this, Nelly carefully chose the time to talk to him about the phone call. When she approached him with the news, the thing that he was most curious about, though cautiously so, was having sisters.
He’d grown up with three brothers and the idea of sisters was intriguing. After discussing it, they decided to meet Judy and wanted to include Jason’s parents in the entire process.
The reunion, 47 years later, to the day was sweet.
There was an abundance of gratitude showed by Jason’s biological mother and by Jason’s parents. No awkwardness, just love.
Jason was able to thank Judy for what she did.
He was able to express gratitude for allowing him to live, choosing birth instead of abortion.
He has always felt so strongly about this. His parents provided the life that he lives, a life that he loves. Judy was able to see that the baby boy she had wondered about, worried about, loved, cried over, and had many wandering thoughts about for 47 years was thriving and happy.
She was able to see that her baby was living a life that she dreamed about for him, one that she could not have provided for him full of opportunities and joy.
In an email from Jason’s wife Nelly, she writes:
“When we gave the necklace to Judy, we brought Judy to Snowbasin which is Jason’s favorite place. We rode the gondola to the top, ate lunch at the top and presented her with the ancestry necklace.
She absolutely loves it, and won’t take it off.
I am so happy for her, she is filled with so much love and gratitude that she is reunited with her son after all these years. She is mostly grateful that he was able to have wonderful upbringing and that he has a wonderful family of his own. “
When I asked Jason about what he learned from all of this, his response was this:
“Don’t be afraid of the unknown. You might learn something negative but the chance to grow those family connections can outweigh any of the possible negative ones. All of a sudden, the family I had has doubled. It just means more love.”