The end of 2018 was very special for one local man as he had the chance to meet his daughter he never knew he had. Here he shares his story.
“She was born 33 years ago. I was in the city where she was born establishing visitation rights for my son from a previous relationship. During this tumultuous period, I enjoyed a relationship with a beautiful local woman. After it ended, she never revealed to me that she was pregnant, I never knew, and went on with my life. That was the time before Google, Facebook and the Internet. When people broke up, they weren’t as easily found if they were in transit.
Luckily for me and the resulting child, this young lady chose life. She told the doctor ‘I can’t raise a child alone.’ I wish she would have found me, but the result was beautiful. The birth doctor knew of this couple looking to adopt, and so her mom gave her up at birth to them. She was raised by an incredibly nurturing family who helped her become the person she is today.
After completing multiple challenges in her life, which included worldwide travel and becoming a physician, at the age of 33 there was one last challenge that remained. Who are my biological parents? She placed her genetic sample with 23andMe in the hopes of finding a match to the parents she never knew. Her DNA matched her up with five of my cousins who independently took the test and were found to be her second cousins under DNA relatives.
The whole thing would have been swept under the rug if it weren’t for the relentless pursuit of one of my female cousins who just had to know after reading her profile that she was seeking her biological parents. She kept asking the question at family gatherings until she stumbled upon my brother. Upon hearing the city and date of her birth, he excitedly proclaimed, ‘my older brother was there at that place and time! That has to be him!’
They contacted me and asked me to look at her pictures that were posted on social media. I immediately broke into tears knowing that with all the clues and the resemblance, this was my daughter. My daughter who I had no idea existed. I contacted her privately via social media and told her ‘I think I’m the person you’re looking for.’ That began this whole journey, which culminated six months later after I provided my own genetic sample through the 23andMe ancestry service that confirmed to both of us that I was indeed her biological father.
We continued to keep in contact and she said she was going to be visiting near Buffalo and asked if I wanted to meet. I said absolutely, weather permitting for her. She said, ‘Don’t worry about weather.’ I jokingly replied, ‘I have sled dogs ready just in case. Nothing will stop me from meeting you. Just tell me when.’
Normally at this time of year I find myself mourning the loss of the boy who I was seeking visitation rights to long ago. On Jan. 1, 2011 after his 29th birthday, while attending a reunion on New Year’s Eve with a group of his high school friends, he was recklessly killed by one of his friends who mishandled a handgun. From that point on, my life seemed empty, especially at this time of year. I thought I had no children until this amazing discovery. What was normally a terrible time for me, turned into a joyful weekend. It was the first time I would meet my daughter.
The date was set. The hour arrived. She came in two days before New Year’s Eve. I felt like the prince meeting Cinderella. We met at my friend Russell Salvatore’s hotel and he rolled out the red carpet. It was like a first date. I had roses for her and I was nervous because that’s the first face-to-face contact I’ve ever had with her, everything else was texting and messenger. I took her and her two friends to Anchor Bar because they wanted Buffalo beer and wings. Because she is a physician, I thought it would be nice to show her the new Buffalo medical corridor. We spent five hours together. I gave her a keepsake; a portrait I took of my son and I in the city where she was born. I told her that without him, there would be no you. I was in the city because of him and indirectly you were conceived and you’re here today. Ironically, he always wanted a sister.
If you believe angels are real, that boy is an angel who brought us together. He interceded with God and said, ‘God, let my father have this happen to him around the time I passed.’ I thought I had no children, my only son was dead, and then she came into my life and fulfilled a piece of my heart.
I’m on cloud nine still.”