"I feel I’ve come full circle. I feel complete."
Jenna Behrmann, Ohio
Jenna Behrmann grew up knowing nothing about her biological family or any other possible siblings. She always yearned to know more about where she came from. MyHeritage’s pro bono initiative DNA Quest finally brought Jenna together with her biological mother, Sue, and three half-siblings — more than 30 years after she was placed in adoption. It turned out that Jenna had been living a mere 45-minute drive from her biological mother!
Sue Behrmann only realized she was pregnant 7 ½ months into her pregnancy. Feeling unequipped to have a baby, she made the difficult decision to place her for adoption. Jenna was placed in the Cincinnati Children’s Home in 1987.
In 1990, Sue married and moved from Hamilton to Dayton, where she and her husband Bobby raised their family.
Sue decided from the get-go not to search for Jenna out of respect for her adoptive parents and their family life, and she stuck to that decision. Still, she left the door open for Jenna if Jenna one day chose to search for her.
“I made my choice on April 7, 1987,” says Sue. “It was her quest if she wanted to come to find me.”
Jenna grew up in the Eastgate area of Cincinnati. She had a happy childhood with her adoptive parents, Melvin and Shirley, who told her at a very young age that she was adopted. Nonetheless, through the years, she always wondered who her biological mother was and what the circumstances were surrounding her birth.
“Is she like me?” she asked herself. “Am I like her?”
After her adoptive mother Shirley died in 2005, Jenna renewed her search for her biological family.
She started out based on the little information she could glean from her adoption records. The name of her birth mother had been erased with white-out, but when she held the record up to the light, she was able to make out the name Sue Ellis (Sue’s maiden name)
Unfortunately, the name was too common to narrow down in the phone book, and whatever other information she was able to glean from her adoption records didn’t help. All her searches came up empty.
In 2018, MyHeritage launched DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. Jenna responded almost immediately to the offer, hoping that the MyHeritage DNA test would be the lead she was looking for.
The DNA results
Jenna’s MyHeritage DNA results led her to Sue’s great-aunt in Massachusetts, who directed her to an uncle in Columbus.
Unable to wait for the uncle to put her in touch with Sue, Jenna found her half-sister Rachel on Facebook and messaged her.
Within an hour, Jenna and her mother Sue were talking on the phone. They couldn’t believe their luck. Their first conversation lasted more than 2.5 hours. Sue was especially excited to learn she had an 11th grandchild — Jenna’s daughter, Bonnie, age 5 — and she couldn’t wait to meet them.
Jenna and Sue were ecstatic to finally meet and get to know each other in person. Everyone in the family welcomed Jenna in with open arms.
“When you’re adopted, you have no idea of the background that led up to your adoption. I didn’t know if she would be accepting. She was, and everyone in her family was completely accepting.”
Jenna says she now feels a sense of completeness that was lacking in her life.
“I feel I’ve come full circle. I feel complete.”
Sue can’t wait till they meet again.
“I expect a lot more visits!” she says.
Jenna is forever grateful for the emotional and life-changing discovery she made thanks to MyHeritage. “If it wasn’t for the test, I would probably still be looking for her,” she says.
Without the DNA Quest project, Jenna and Sue’s reunion would not have been possible. We’re so proud to have brought this family together.