MyHeritage user Inez Tjarda Engelbosch of Belgium never felt like she belonged. When the man who raised her finally admitted that he wasn’t her biological father, she decided to take a MyHeritage DNA test to see what she could learn about her birth father’s identity… and then, a DNA match arrived in her inbox with an estimated relationship of “father.” This is her story:
“Hi, I’m your dad.”
That was the first thing he said to me, on our first video call.
I started to cry.
I looked at the man on the screen. It was like looking at myself in the mirror. Same face, same curly hair, same nose. I felt that I knew him even though it was the first time we had ever spoken. I had finally found my dad, and I can’t be happier.
My name is Yves, but this is a new name I adopted later in life. My given name is Tjarda, and I live in Belgium. Throughout my childhood, I wondered why my mother chose to give me this name. Was it a punishment? All my family members had European names. They all looked European, too. Everyone except me.
I don’t look Belgian, and people used to ask me where I was from. One time I went to a nightclub and they refused to believe that I’m Belgian. I suffered a lot in my childhood. My mother treated me like I was a problem. I never felt loved.
For years I had questions about my identity. I had a feeling that the man who raised me was not my biological father. One time, when my mother was hospitalized, I decided to ask her: “Is he my real father?”
“Yes,” she answered. “He is your father.”
So I asked my father about it. “To be honest,” he said, “I’m 80% sure you are not my daughter.”
When he said those words, I felt that I couldn’t breathe.
So I decided to take a DNA test. I went to the MyHeritage website and ordered a kit. When the results arrived, I immediately checked my ethnicity background: 40% North African. What? How is that even possible? It was a total shock. I got a DNA match with a distant cousin, so I sent her a message but she didn’t respond. I couldn’t do anything to get her to reply, so I decided to let it go.
3 years have passed since then. My parents refused to tell me the truth — it was a waste of time to try to persuade them otherwise. A month and a half ago, I decided to stop searching and stop thinking about it.
That was when it happened.
My husband got an email from MyHeritage: “Yves, you’ve got a match.” He checked the account and told me to come over. “You’ve got to see this,” he said. I looked at his screen and there it was:
That evening I had a night shift at work, and I remember that it was a nightmare. I couldn’t think of anything else but this amazing discovery, after all those years that I’d been searching and praying for answers.
I tried, unsuccessfully, to find him on Facebook. I went to bed but couldn’t sleep. In the morning I saw that a man with a weird name sent me a message on Messenger.
This man was looking for Yves Tjarda (my name on MyHeritage) but found Yves Innes (my name on Facebook). He looked at my photos and saw a resemblance, so he decided to reach out. “Are you using MyHeritage?” he wrote. “Did you take a DNA test?”
I saw the message and knew it was him. So I immediately called him on video. We looked at each other for a few seconds.
“Hi, I’m your dad,” he said.
He hadn’t even known that I existed. He had a successful restaurant, and my mother had gone there one night to have dinner. They had a one-night romance. When I told him about her, he didn’t even remember her — he said that he saw a lot of women those days.
He was so sad to hear that I suffered all my childhood. “I wish I knew,” he said. “I would have come and taken you!” He didn’t need convincing that I’m his daughter, and not just because of the DNA match: we really look alike. He says that I look exactly like his eldest daughter.
All my life, I had only one brother, and I always wanted a sister. Now I have 4 more brothers and 4 sisters! I’m so happy and thankful for that. He told me that he is happy too and thankful for the opportunity to find me. He told my kids to call him “Grandfather.”
Since we found each other, my father and I have been talking every day, laughing at each other’s jokes, sharing stories. He lives in Brussels, one hour away from me, and he came to visit me not long ago so we could meet for the first time. It was complicated: he is 75 years old, high risk for COVID, so I couldn’t hug him and needed to keep a distance as per the restrictions. He is also a Muslim, and because of Ramadan, I couldn’t even offer him a drink!
Source: My Heritage