Carl De Lio, 50, from Florida, was adopted into an Italian family as an infant. Years later, he met his biological mother, who told him that his father died when he was a child. But 30 years later, a MyHeritage DNA test revealed that this was far from the truth.
Here is his story:
My name is Carl De Lio and this is my journey of finding out who I am. I was born in New Hampshire and I was adopted at the age of a year and a half by Italian parents, Paul and Louise De Lio. I found out when I was 6 or 7 years old that I was an adopted child. Eventually my adoptive parents divorced after being married for 9 years, a few years after adopting me.
Meeting my biological mother 30 years ago
When I was about 20 years old, I asked my dad about my biological family. He told me that I was the youngest in a family of 10 children (from several fathers), and he gave me a name: Viola Robinson. It turned out that my biological mother gave me to the family that ran Fat Cats Pizza in the small town of Clermont, New Hampshire. I went there to meet her and the brother who was supposed to be my only full biological brother, out of 9 siblings not counting me. The other children were from her first husband.
Shawn and I were the two sons that were supposedly from her second marriage. My mother told me about my late biological father and showed me a photo of him with me as an infant sitting on his lap. It was the first time I saw a photo of myself as an infant. She told me that he died when I was 6 years old. She also said that he had a brother who was still alive and asked if I would like to meet him. I said sure, so we took a short drive and I met him. Well, the guy said hello, and after he looked at the 3 of us, he blurted out that it looked like someone was hopping the fence. I thought that was very rude but I went with it because I was a stranger in this situation and I didn’t know her like he did.
For 30 years I believed my birth father died when I was a kid
I’m 50 years old and for 30 years I thought that Shawn was my full brother, and that the man in the photo was my biological father. Shawn hadn’t been adopted out as I was; he grew up with Viola till the day she passed away in 2015.
My wife and another half-sister I got to know many years later, Lauren (who was also adopted out from Viola’s first marriage) have always doubted that Shawn and I were full brothers. So I took a MyHeritage DNA test in 2017, just to see what my ethnicity is. That’s when I found out I was around 48% Italian. I was delighted to learn, having been the red-headed, freckled adopted child of Italians, that I actually have Italian in me.
Let’s fast forward to 2020 when Shawn went to visit Lauren and she surprised him with a DNA test. The result came: Shawn and I are half-brothers and not full brothers! He called me right away, shocked and upset that Viola never told us the truth. I had to reassure him that it would not make a difference — our relationship wasn’t going to change.
But for 30 years I thought that I had a full sibling. Not anymore. The reaction of my supposed uncle made sense suddenly (“looks like someone has been hopping the fence”). The man I believed was my father from age 20 to 50 was not my father; he was Shawn’s dad. So who was my father? My biological mother died 8 years ago and she took the secret to her grave.
‘That’s your family’
I checked my DNA Matches, and found a first cousin and second cousin who weren’t connected to Viola’s side of the family, meaning they were on my father’s side. I wrote to them via the MyHeritage messaging system. They replied and both wrote the same thing: “You must be a Donatelli, they were known for spreading their seeds in that town!” One of the cousins, Darla, gave my phone number to her brother, Guy, and we sent each other photos. As soon as my wife saw the photos she said: “That’s your family!”
I always had an Italian last name; my adoptive mother married three times and all the names she took on through her husband’s were Italian. It turns out that my birth family was Italian, too!
My cousin Guy told me there were 6 Donatelli brothers and 3 sisters. One of these brothers was my father. I was astonished that my dad might still be alive — only one of them had already passed away when I had connected with my family. I started a process of elimination, and at one point got in touch with Marie, the daughter of one of the brothers, Joseph Donatelli. I asked her: “If I send you a DNA test, would you be willing to take it to see if you are my sister or not?” She said, “Of course I will.”
I found my birth father — and he’s alive
A few weeks later, she received her results and called me, excited, so we could look at them together. It said: “Half-sister,” so I knew who my dad was — and he was alive!
He was 78 years old when I found him. He had met Viola in his early twenties. I found out that besides Marie, I have three other half-siblings from that side (one passed away). Since then I have met some of my aunts and uncles. They all have a lot of children. I have a massive family tree now!
I went to New Hampshire in January 2023 to meet my dad. One of my new Donatelli cousins, Lauraine, welcomed me to her house during my visit.
For 30 years, I’d believed my father was a man who died when I was a kid, and here I was meeting my dad for the first time! It’s really amazing! I also met my uncle Jerry in Vermont, and from there I drove down to Boston to meet 8 more cousins from my aunt Anne, and we had a nice gathering. I have one uncle with over 20 children, another uncle with seven or so and another couple of aunts with a handful each. My story is like a snowball. The next thing you know, it’s a snowman: the more, the merrier!
Many thanks to Carl for sharing his amazing story with us! If you’ve also made an incredible discovery using MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it. Please send it to us via this form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post I Was Told My Birth Dad Had Died. A DNA Test Proved He Was Someone Else — Who’s Alive appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.
Source: My Heritage