North Tonawanda woman goes on mission to find father’s biological family and succeeds!

Heather Mancuso of North Tonawanda always wondered who her biological grandparents were. Her father, Christopher Scott Russell, was adopted as an infant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla in 1965 and the family later moved to Vero Beach where he still resides. But when he told his daughter that he was adopted, Mancuso felt there was a void that needed to be filled.

“My grandparents were wonderful parents and he had a very stable and loving life. I was young when he told me he was adopted and every since then I often wondered about who his birth parents were because they were my biological family, too. Back then, he didn’t have an interest in knowing anything, but that all changed this year when I decided I wanted to find them,” she said.

Mancuso and her father took DNA tests through 23 and Me and that’s where their journey began. She went on a mission to find her biological family with the support of her loving dad, but the road to find them was a tedious one.

“I uploaded the results to three other DNA websites and had little luck. I then decided to have my dad do a DNA test through Ancestry.com. His results came in at the end of July. I worked with his DNA match list and several family trees. A distant cousin also reached out to me on the site and offered to help any way she could. By the end of August, I had found both sides of my dad’s birth family.”

And now amazingly enough, Mancuso will be meeting with her father’s biological brother and sister next week who just so happen to live in Rochester – only an hour away! Born and raised in Florida, she moved to North Tonawanda to be near her husband’s family, only to find out her own roots were from Western New York!

“His entire birth family is from Rochester! It’s crazy! I’m just so grateful that they’ve been so open with me and accepting. I felt such a strong need to find them because I felt like half of me was a mystery. My dad never had one single piece of information about anyone. I kind of felt like I was missing a part of myself.”

Mancuso will meet with her family next Friday and she promises to tell us how it went! This just goes to show that if you’re passionate about something and you don’t give up – there’s always a chance you can make your dream a reality. While her dad is in Florida right now, he will be visiting in November.

“I’m sure we will get together then, too,” she said.

Be sure to check back with Sweet Buffalo soon to see how their visit went!

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