"We feel blessed." Susan Butler, New Zealand
In March 2018, we launched DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. The response to the project was incredible. MyHeritage users poured out their hearts to us with their stories of searching, and their hopes for the future including reunification and belonging. We provided thousands of free MyHeritage DNA kits to eligible participants.
We are excited to bring you one of the many life-changing reunions that have taken place as a result of DNA Quest. Without the assistance of this important initiative, half-siblings Susan and Terry, both New Zealanders, living only an hour or so away from each other, may have spent years not knowing the other existed.
DNA Quest Application
When Susan Butler, 52, of Te Puke, New Zealand, applied for DNA Quest earlier this year she didn’t want to set her hopes too high. She had originally looked into DNA Quest, not for herself but for her sister-in-law’s mother Judy, in her 70s, who knows nothing about her biological family. Susan decided to try for herself as well.
Although Susan had known both her birth mother, now deceased, and her birth father, with whom she is currently in touch, questions remained. She believed that her father had additional children. She wondered whether she had unknown siblings somewhere out there.
I had not really expected to find anything new, just to find out my ethnicity.
When Susan received her MyHeritage DNA results, they showed that she had a very close match with a man she had never heard of, Terry Smith. She immediately called her birth father Bruce to see if the name rang any bells. He didn’t recognize the name.
Susan messaged 15 different Terry Smiths via facebook messenger asking if they had taken a DNA test last year. The next day, she received a reply from Terry Smith, 51, in Whakatane, New Zealand, saying that he had taken a DNA test last year and uploaded his results to MyHeritage. Terry had wanted to see if a DNA test would help him find his biological father because his mother would not tell him his father’s name.
I asked him how old he was and when he told me he was 51, I just knew he was probably my brother!
After learning Terry’s mother’s name, Susan called Bruce back to see if he remembered Terry’s mom.
He confirmed the name was a lady he had been with once — so he found out he had a son!
Terry’s mother had never told his father that she was pregnant, so there were surprises on both sides. Not only was Susan introduced to a half-brother for the first time, but father and son, Bruce and Terry, were also shocked to learn about one another.
It was quite emotional for Susan and Terry when they spoke on the phone for the first time. They agreed to meet as soon as possible, which was fairly simple seeing as Terry lives only 40 minutes from Susan and 30 minutes from their father Bruce. Without wasting any time, they all met the next day.
We could definitely tell our faces had the same features.
Both Susan and Terry feel blessed to have this opportunity to discover their biological family. It has changed their lives in ways they couldn’t have imagined.
Thank you so much, from myself, my brother Terry and my father Bruce, we feel blessed. It has been amazing to find I had a brother. For Terry, as well, it has filled a huge gap in his life. I’m so pleased to say he and our father Bruce are already forming a close relationship.
Terry could not believe that after 51 years, he had finally met his father and sister.
For me to have found our sister and my father, it’s a lot. Fifty-one years without a father and, all of a sudden I have all this other side of the family. It’s just changed my life.
The New Zealand Herald recently covered Susan and Terry’s exciting story. Thousands of people have participated in DNA Quest, and over the next few weeks, we look forward to sharing more stories of family reunions thanks to this amazing initiative.