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I Was an Only Child. Thanks to MyHeritage DNA, I Found 3 Siblings

Monika Fleming discovered she was adopted at age 30. 37 years later, she uploaded her DNA to MyHeritage — and was matched with a half-brother. This is her story:

I learned I was adopted when I was 30 years old. I was an only child in a military family.  Because we moved a lot, I wanted to put down roots and I wanted to know the stories of my ancestors. I was introduced to family history by a great-uncle on my father’s side when I was in elementary school. By the time I reached high school I began to fill out family trees for both my mother’s and father’s families. I spent years gathering data on my ancestors, but when I was 30 I found out that research I had done on my family documented my parents’ roots, but not mine.

Monika Fleming

Monika Fleming

I still remember the phone call in the spring of 1986 from the naval hospital in Portsmouth Virginia where my mother was dying of cancer. The hospital was over two hours away, and as I drove, I wondered why my mother had been so upset on the phone. When I arrived, she was relieved and told me she was sorry she had kept the news from me for so long but she couldn’t die until she told me that I had been adopted while my parents were stationed in Germany. She said I had come from an orphanage. They had decided to not tell their families and so I grew up with everyone thinking I was their natural child.

Because she was so sick, I decided not to tell her that I already knew about the adoption. There had been clues and I had begun to wonder. When I had asked about the differences between me and the rest of the family, no one had an answer. I had dark brown eyes and hair. My mother had hazel eyes and my father’s were blue. Most of my maternal kin were all blue-eyed with blond or light brown hair, and both my grandfathers had bright blue eyes. I often wondered where my brown eyes came from.

When she was admitted into the hospital several months before the phone call, the hospital asked for some information. I had gone searching through the family papers in a box in a closet and discovered some receipts for an adoption, along with a birth certificate, all in German. The certificate had a registration number, a date — April 13, 1955 — and the name of a baby girl, Monika.

In search of my birth family

From her hospital bed, my mother cried and said she hadn’t told me earlier because she was afraid I would leave her to search for my other family. She died three months later. We were able to get my father a temporary leave to come to the funeral. When I asked him, he looked at me and said, “We chose you and you are ours and we loved you and raised you. There is nothing more to say.”

I did learn he had told his parents when they brought me home from Germany, but they are gone now too. My father came to live with me after my mother died and we became close in those seven years, but he never spoke again of my adoption. Although I was intrigued and full of questions, no one had any answers.

In 2000, a mutual acquaintance put me in touch with Manfred Moesner, a German man who helps people with their research, and he became my “search angel.” Starting with my birth certificate, Manfred was able to find the birth certificate that had been filed when I was adopted, which mentioned my birth mother’s name. He was able to determine that her family were refugees from East Germany after the war and she made it to West Germany to the village where I was born in the French occupied zone. Through his research I discovered my mother was 18 when I was born. She had lived in an area of Germany that became Poland after WWII. Her home village was invaded during the war and partially destroyed. But he could not find any record of her after she left me at the orphanage.  As Germany was recovering after the war, there was mass migration and relocation among the people and records were limited.

I had joined a family tree website in the 1990s and continued research on my adoptive family, but had no leads for my biological family. When DNA testing became affordable, I immediately posted my results, but without any family trees for my biological family, there were limited matches and all were distant relatives.  

In the 2010s I made contact with someone in my mother’s home village. A renovation of a Catholic church uncovered buried registers from before the war. I was sent digital scans of birth, marriage, and death records from the former Lutheran parish.  With these German documents I was able to construct a family tree for my maternal line going back four generations. My mother had been the youngest of twelve children, her father one of eleven so there were lots of potential relatives. My search which had been dormant for almost 20 years had been revived.  

With this new information and a suggestion from a friend, I uploaded my DNA and a family tree to MyHeritage. Both sites indicated I was 100% European with German, English, and some Scandinavian roots.

I have my father’s eyes

Finally, in the fall of 2020 in the midst of the COVID pandemic, I was contacted by a close match on MyHeritage. I shared 26% of my DNA with a man in France, over 1880 cM. He emailed me suggesting we may be related and wanted some specific details about my birth. It turns out this match was my half-brother! Our father was in the French army in Koblenz, Germany in the 1950s, the same village I was born in and adopted from by the American family. My half-brother sent me photos of my father, Henri Noblecourt who had dark hair and dark eyes. In fact my brother said I had our father’s eyes.  

Monika’s birth father, Henri Noblecourt, wearing 3 military medals: a Cross of Military Valor, the Combatant’s Cross, and the Commemorative Medal for Security Operations and the Maintenance of Order

Monika’s birth father, Henri Noblecourt, wearing 3 military medals: a Cross of Military Valor, the Combatant’s Cross, and the Commemorative Medal for Security Operations and the Maintenance of Order. Photo colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage

In June 2022, once the COVID travel restrictions were lifted, my husband and I went to France to attend my nephew’s wedding and meet much of my French family. I have two half-brothers, a half-sister, over a dozen nieces and nephews, and four grand-nieces and -nephews, the latest born in April of this year. Unfortunately, my biological father died back in 1996, so I was never able to talk to him. As a young man he was in the French army, and served in the French occupied zone in Germany during the 1950s. Later he was a judge or justice of the peace.

His children welcomed me with open arms and were surprised to have an older sister. They had no clue of my existence and doubt our father knew either.

Monika with her half-brothers. Photo enhanced by MyHeritage

Monika with her half-brothers. Photo enhanced by MyHeritage

All of my French relatives have been very accepting and welcoming, even Henri’s wife, who is still alive. They seem pleased to have an American relative. I have invited them all to visit but no one has come yet. We hope to go back to France in 2025 and perhaps to Germany and Poland if we can connect with some of my mother’s family. I recently met a second cousin on my mother’s side through MyHeritage.

Monika (center) with her half-sister Joelle and half-brother Thierry

Monika (center) with her half-sister Joelle and half-brother Thierry

My brothers gave me a photo of our French grandmother Berta Jolibois Noblecourt, and there is a very strong resemblance. In fact my nieces said when they first met me that I reminded them of Grandmother Berta. 

A photo of Monika’s biological grandmother Berta. Photo enhanced and colorized by MyHeritage

A photo of Monika’s biological grandmother Berta. Photo enhanced and colorized by MyHeritage

After almost 40 years of searching, this only child has multiple siblings and other family members. 

This has been a long journey but it is not over. I am so blessed to have discovered the family I have and that most of them are very gracious and loving people.

Many thanks to Monika for sharing her beautiful story with us! If you’ve also made an incredible discovery with MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it. Please share it with us via this form or email us at

The post I Was an Only Child. Thanks to MyHeritage DNA, I Found 3 Siblings appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Source: My Heritage

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