"All these years, I felt that something was missing in my life." Melissa Porter, Texas Kenneth Bender, Florida

Melissa Porter, 47, was raised by a single mother in Dallas, Texas. When she was 13, her mother revealed to her that her father’s name was Kenneth Bender, but didn’t give her any information beyond that. As a teenager, Melissa moved back to Michigan, where she was born, to live with her grandparents. Melissa’s grandmother told her that her father had served in the Navy.

In 1996, Melissa began actively searching for her father. She scoured the Navy archives and other military records and online services, but with no success.

Finally, last April, she decided to take a MyHeritage DNA test… and received a match to a first cousin living in Georgia. She checked the cousin’s family tree, and there he was — Kenneth Bender, her father. She discovered that he had later married and had a son, so she reached out to her half-brother — Kenneth Jr. — via social media. After 23 years of searching, Melissa finally found her father.

It turned out that Kenneth met Melissa’s maternal grandfather in a bar shortly after Kenneth was released from duty during the Vietnam War. The pair hit it off, and Kenneth ended up working for Melissa’s grandfather and renting a room in his house. It was there that he met Melissa’s mother. But the couple broke up after she became pregnant and told Kenneth that he wasn’t the father.

Kenneth, Melissa’s father, serving in the army

Kenneth joined the Air Force and served until his retirement, which he now enjoys in Florida. During his service, he married and had a son. He never imagined that Melissa’s mother hadn’t told him the truth, and was shocked and delighted to learn that he had a daughter.

On August 1, 2019, Melissa boarded her first-ever flight to travel down to Jacksonville Airport in Florida, and there she met her father and half-brother for the first time.

“All these years, I felt that something was missing in my life,” says Kenneth. “MyHeritage DNA resolved that issue.”

“I’ve been kept alive for a reason,” he goes on. “To find out that I have a daughter.”

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  • jo ann merrill

    July 8, 2020

    I am 74 years old and still searching for my unknown birth father…

  • Brenda Scudder

    July 10, 2020

    Melissa, I just saw your story. I don’t know if we are related, but my maiden is Brenda Porter. Married name is Scudder. Who knows we might be cousins. Contact me through my heritage.

  • Jennifer Byrne

    July 10, 2020

    I am 72 and sadly I have found out recently that my father was not my biological father.
    I would like to know who my biological father was because I would like to know who I am.
    Please can you help me it would mean so much to me as I feel rather lost.

  • Maria Avery

    July 11, 2020

    I bought the DNA kit for my dear friend Maria Avery Porterfield She was raised in a meninite foster home in Penn. Never was told her fathers name and needs to find her dad. She has tried all with no luck.

  • Brigitte Mayer

    July 13, 2020

    I am 71 years of age and also would love to find my father. I was born in Germany and my father is from Glasgow, Scotland with the name of Jack Jackson and served with the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders in Essen, Germany around 1948/49.

  • Theresa Mercer

    July 14, 2020

    My fiance found out of him being adopted after the passing of his mother & father. He was already in his 40s. How can he find out his biological parents and or siblings if any?

  • Arnold

    July 20, 2020

    I have a partner and her name is mary s galvez how can i track all her notification