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3 Years After Losing His Mother, He Found Her Father & 3 Half-Siblings with MyHeritage DNA

“They say that blood is thicker than water. When I met my mother’s half-sister and two brothers for the first time, and all the cousins, the uncanny resemblance of people, the instant connection, the room filled with so much love and affection, I realized just how accurate that statement is.”

Peter Stefanovic is still emotional when he recounts the special experience he had meeting his newfound aunt at a hotel in Rochester, England. Three years after losing his mother, who died at the age of 86 without knowing the identity of her father, he looks at her half-sister, the same age, and can’t believe how powerful genetics are. 

Moments after the meeting, at the end of January, Peter posted a photo of the family reunion on his X account. Even Peter, a U.K. lawyer, campaigner, and media personality with a million followers across his various social channels, did not expect so much public interest. The photo was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and received thousands of likes and hundreds of comments. The happiness and excitement on the faces of those present at the meeting deeply touched his followers.

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“Beaming widely in the middle (wearing a green jacket) is my mum’s sister Victoria Cox,” Peter explains. “Playfully leaning forward on the right is my mum’s brother Ashley and standing behind him is his brother Graham. I’m the one towering at the back (of course).”

The match he received on MyHeritage not only revealed 3 half-siblings of his mother’s, but also the identity of his mother’s biological father. Every one of the few details he had known about the identity of his grandfather matched perfectly with the information that the half-siblings had.

“My mother, Aileen, sadly died back in February 2021, never knowing who her father was. All the family were told is that her father was Irish and he was a soldier, and he had met my grandmother before the war,” says Peter. “He got her pregnant and then just disappeared and there was never any prospect of finding out who he was.”

Peter has a note written by his mother’s aunt, Ivy, who died years ago at the age of 98, that sheds light on his mother’s complex childhood. The story of Peter’s mother’s birth was hidden from her for years. “When [Elsie] became pregnant, Uncle Bill was very angry and demanded to know who the father was,” writes Ivy. “I think he was Irish and in the army. She had obviously been seeing him. She used to travel from Gravesend to Chadwell Saint Mary. I think that’s where she met him. Mother was very upset when she found out. Elsie was always so sullen and the pregnancy came as a great surprise to everyone. We could never understand how she had got mixed up in all that.”

Peter's grandmother, Elsie. Photo colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage

Peter's grandmother, Elsie. Photo colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage

Peter’s grandmother, Elsie. Photo colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage

In order to protect his mother, he says, his grandparents decided to raise her as if she were their daughter. During her childhood, Aileen, Peter’s mother, believed that Elsie was her older sister — she didn’t know she was her biological mother! “My mother was brought up to believe that her mother was her sister and that my great-grandfather was her father. What always struck me when I used to meet my granddad is that my mum always called him dad, whereas we always called him granddad. And I never quite understood that until later on when they explained this to me.”

“I’m not exactly sure when mum was told her sister was her mother,” says Peter. “I think it was before my grandma remarried, so you can imagine there was this whole family out there somewhere that we knew nothing about, and there was never any chance of finding them, because these sorts of DNA searches that sites like MyHeritage have simply weren’t available in those days. We always had this sense of emptiness, that there were blood relations out somewhere, and it was all very sad that we could never find them.”

Peter's mother, Aileen, as a young teenager. Photo repaired, enhanced, and colorized by MyHeritage

Peter's mother, Aileen, as a young teenager. Photo repaired, enhanced, and colorized by MyHeritage

Peter’s mother, Aileen, as a young teenager. Photo repaired, enhanced, and colorized by MyHeritage

Several years ago Peter decided to delve into his family history, and through a DNA test he thought he would discover more about his ethnic origins. Later, his mother, who has since passed away, took a DNA test too. He did not imagine that this test would one day solve the mystery of their lives. “My mum was excited to do the test — not because she thought it would help her to identify the biological father she had never known; she never imagined that might be possible — but because she too wanted to know more about her ethnic origins.

“A match was made with a woman named Victoria, who was found to be my mother’s half-sister and interestingly they share a very similar story. Vicki never knew her father either. And all they knew about him was that he was a soldier that had come from Ireland and then disappeared, so they shared the same mystery. Neither knew who the father was and neither knew that they had a sister out there. It’s astonishing that the two sisters were born a distance of just 20 minutes apart by car and grew up never knowing the other existed.”

The half-sisters (left, Victoria; right, Aileen)

The half-sisters (left, Victoria; right, Aileen)

But that was not the end. Another close match was found, with a man named Ashley, who was 25 years younger than Peter’s mother and still shared a large amount of DNA with her, indicating a half-sibling relationship. Ashley, it turned out, is the biological son of an Irish citizen named John McCrory, who was stationed as a soldier in Britain in the early 1930s, exactly where Aileen and Victoria were born.

John Augustine McRory, Peter's grandfather. Photo colorized, repaired, and enhanced by MyHeritage

John Augustine McRory, Peter's grandfather. Photo colorized, repaired, and enhanced by MyHeritage

John Augustine McRory, Peter’s grandfather. Photo colorized, repaired, and enhanced by MyHeritage

“Ashley’s father, John McCrory, was an Irish soldier who was posted in the area where the two grandmothers both got pregnant. He was a bit of a philanderer and a womanizer, so it all kind of ties together as a story,” says Peter. “Ashley McCrory had no idea that his father had had other children. So they never actually grew up with the sort of void that we and Vicki had. We knew that there was a whole missing side of our family tree.”

We animated a photo of John, Peter’s grandfather, with Deep Nostalgia™, and sent it to Peter to give him a chance to see the grandfather he’d never met look around and smile. Here’s the animation with his reaction:

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The very exciting discovery led to the long-awaited meeting, which took place at the end of January. On a Saturday evening, all members of the extended family met and saw each other, face to face, for the first time. “It was an incredible evening. On that Saturday night my wife and I found ourselves in a room with blood relatives that we didn’t know we had. I’m talking to my mum’s half-brothers and her sister and all the cousins and there was an overwhelming love and affection in the room that I never really experienced before. The uncanny resemblance of people. I’m looking at my cousin for the very first time, and I’m saying you’re the spitting image of my twin brother!”

Peter’s wife, Anu, was also very excited and emotional. “She burst into tears when she met mum’s sister for the first time, the resemblance was uncanny. My wife had been one of my mother’s carers for many months during her illness so they had a real bond and connection and just seeing my mum’s half sister and the resemblance, it was just extraordinary. None of this would have happened without MyHeritage. So a huge thank you for that.”

Peter summarizes the special experience as follows: “What’s so fascinating is that you’ve got two families growing up not knowing who the father was. You know, that huge sense of emptiness, of not knowing. And it’s really interesting the way these families have suddenly connected and shared that same story of a soldier from Ireland who basically did a runner, leaving these two women to fend for themselves. And then, of course, you’ve got a third family who knew nothing about any of this and who welcomed the two new families into their own with open arms. The connection we all feel to each other after that first meeting, the affection, the love, is extraordinary. My mother died, sadly never knowing her father, never knowing that she had a sister and two brothers out there. I know she would have loved to have met them and known them.”

The post 3 Years After Losing His Mother, He Found Her Father & 3 Half-Siblings with MyHeritage DNA appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Source: My Heritage

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