Rachael Robertson was adopted as a baby, and in her teen years, began developing a curiosity to know about her birth family. Little did she know, her birth father — who lived only a short distance away for part of their lives — was longing to find her. Both of them applied for free DNA kits through MyHeritage’s pro bono DNA Quest project to reunite adoptees with their families… and found each other.
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‘Something inside of me felt missing’
Rachael was born in November 1989, in West Jordan, Utah and was adopted as a baby. “I wasn’t given much information about my birth parents,” says Rachael. “So even though I grew up with the best family, there was still something inside me that felt missing.”
Rachael’s older sister, who was also adopted, managed to find her paternal biological family through DNA testing, and this inspired Rachael to give it a try. “Seeing my sister having that extra joy in her life, I wanted to know about my own birth parents,” Rachael wrote in an article published on Newsweek. “My mom, sister and husband encouraged me to look. I was nervous, but I knew that if I reached out and I found a mother and father who wanted nothing to do with me I would be OK because I already had that support and love.”
“I didn’t actually think anything would come from my DNA testing,” she admits, but she applied for a free DNA kit through DNA Quest in May 2018 and took the test. At first, nothing much came up — none of the DNA Matches were significant enough to pursue. But a year later, a message showed up in Rachael’s MyHeritage inbox.
“I started reading a message from a man, asking me politely if I was adopted, because 30 years ago his little girl was put for adoption and he believes I’m his daughter. I didn’t manage to read it properly… I started crying and screaming out of excitement, realizing that this man is my father. It turned out he just took the MyHeritage DNA test, hoping to find me.”
‘We immediately clicked’
Rachael’s birth father, Criss, knew he had fathered a little girl with his girlfriend, but after she broke up with him, she placed the baby for adoption. He always wondered what became of her, and before he married his wife, LeAnn, he told her all about it. “I wanted to make sure she understands I intend to find my daughter,” says Criss. “My wife was very supportive, and when I found Rachael, she was happy to welcome her into our family.”
Criss is an avid genealogist, and in March 2019, he attended the RootsTech conference. At that conference, we announced the expansion of our DNA Quest initiative, pledging to donate an additional 5,000 DNA kits. Criss decided to apply for one, and as soon as he got his results, he hit the jackpot: his daughter was right there at the top of his DNA Match list.
Criss wrote to Rachael right away saying that “It looks like I am your birth father” and asked if she’d be willing to meet him.
“I was so overwhelmed by the message,” Rachael wrote for Newsweek. “I was super excited and hopeful, but also anxious. I didn’t know what he was going to say or what his involvement had been in putting me up for adoption.”
Rachael agreed to meet him, and a few weeks later, they met up for lunch.
“Criss recognized me immediately, because I look very much like his youngest daughter, Caitlin,” says Rachael.
“I was anxious,” Rachael admitted on Newsweek. “It was like a job interview, the feeling of, ‘I need to put my best foot forward, I want this person to like me.’ But at the same time, I thought, if we didn’t click then I would still have reached my goal, which was to meet him. But I needn’t have worried. We talked and we immediately clicked. Talking to him was so fun. He is such a charismatic person and we have so much in common: we both love music and theater, we both used to sing and act, and he used to be a nurse while I worked in veterinary medicine for years. We connected on such random things.”
Craziest of all, that Rachael’s husband, Jake, had actually met Criss two years earlier at a comic convention and had no idea that he was having a lovely chat with his wife’s father! Rachael also attended the convention, but she had gone on a short stroll with her sons (aged 7 and 10 today) and missed meeting Criss.
Criss also explained to Rachael what had happened with her birth mom. He said that she broke up with him after he got her pregnant and told him that she was placing the baby for adoption. When Rachael was born, her birth mom let Criss know and said he could come to see her, but he chose not to, because he knew that if he saw her, he wouldn’t be able to part with her — but he always wanted to find her and have her in his life.
Rachael becomes part of the family
The day after their first lunch together, Rachael received a message from Caitlin, her youngest half-sister, asking if they could get to know each other, too. “We started exchanging messages on Facebook,” says Rachael, “and after a while, we met for a cup of hot chocolate at Starbucks, which was so much fun. I have a very close relationship with her.”
As time went on, Rachael became part of Criss’s family, just as he had hoped. Rachael’s adoptive family also got together with Criss’s family and formed a warm relationship. “I am very grateful to them,” says Criss.
Thanks to their newfound family bond, Rachael got to be a bridesmaid at her half-sister Caitlin’s wedding this past June.
Rachael and Criss speak every day.
“It’s just another source of love,” Rachael concludes in her Newsweek article. “I believe love will never decrease by having extra people in your life — it can only expand.”
We’re so happy for this loving newfound family and grateful to have been instrumental in bringing them together.
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Source: My Heritage