Reconnecting: Finding Four New Sisters

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DNA can both reveal secrets and reconnect families.

Georgia Stull, 62, of Missouri, is a quilter. She fits the puzzle pieces of patterns into beautiful creations, and she travels around the world teaching others to quilt. She has been married to Ivan since 1975 and has four sons. Throughout the years she always had one puzzle she couldn’t solve — who exactly was her biological father?

It’s really hard to explain why, but it’s been very important for me to know as I have gotten older. I often thought about DNA testing, but I just wasn’t ready to do it. It’s so final. I was afraid that I would do it and find out nothing. Hope would be lost. That doesn’t make much sense, but sometimes our heart and head are not speaking the same language.

However, last fall, Georgia’s husband Ivan’s classmate found a half-sister through DNA. Three days later, a quilting friend also did a DNA test and found a half-sister. Somehow, it was exactly the push that Georgia needed to finally take the leap and order a test. The results demonstrated hundreds of matches from two families, Hamilton and Dailing, both unknown to Georgia.

My mom was the only child of an only child and she died in 2015. So far, I have only found two matches from my mother’s family — I haven’t been able to go through all matches because I have more than 1,000! I had very close and exact matches with members of both the Hamilton and Dailing families. I just couldn’t figure out how to narrow it down to one person.

She ordered an additional DNA test from another testing company and received the same basic results: Not as many matches, but almost all were from those two families.

Frustrated that we couldn’t narrow it down, we called a friend, Marilyn Littrell Tedrow, who knows much more about this field than we do. She recommended we upload to MyHeritage DNA for free. These produced fewer matches, but with the same two families. However, we were still unable to narrow down the search.

Then, on Christmas Day, Georgia received a match to a half-niece. She saw that the match had a family tree on MyHeritage. Georgia’s husband Ivan signed her up for a  MyHeritage membership. Within minutes, Ivan saw that her niece’s grandfather was Bob Hamilton, son of Marion Hamilton and Sally Dailing.

Wow! We began going through the matches to see if the other relationships made sense and were appropriate. We realized that Bob Hamilton was my father! Sadly, he passed away in 2013, but he had four daughters, Linda, Karla, Lori and Sherri. I reached out to them and now we have begun a new journey. They have been kind, gracious and so accepting.

Georgia's father Bob Hamilton died in April 2013, and her mother died in 2015. Georgia will never know if her father knew she was his child. [Courtesy photo]
Georgia’s father, Bob Hamilton, who died in April 2013.
Her new sisters traveled to visit Georgia and her husband recently, and even brought her a birthday cake for her last birthday.

The best discovery was her four new sisters. Linda, Sherri, Lori and Karla visited her in March, and brought a birthday cake because they had missed her other birthdays. Georgia broke her shoulder shortly before the visit. [Courtesy photo]
Georgia and her four new sisters – Linda, Sherri, Lori, and Karla – during their visit in March. They brought a birthday cake because they had missed her other birthdays.
Georgia’s sisters said that she strongly resembled their Grandma Sally, their father’s mother.

Grandma Sally and Georgia, side by side.
Grandma Sally (left) and Georgia – a strong resemblance

Over the past few months, my sister Sherri tested her DNA and confirmed she is my half-sister. I have also confirmed DNA matches with other relatives in my father’s family.

Georgia is overjoyed that she will now be able to “know” her father through her sisters! She grew up with three half-sisters (on her mother’s side) whom she loves very much — Jeannie, Charlotte, and Wanda. They have a shared family history and finding her Hamilton sisters will now just add to that.

God created our human hearts in such a way that we don’t have to divide our love. Our hearts can expand to love more. Amazingly, I now have seven sisters. I am so very blessed. I am so grateful for an amazing husband who supports and encourages me.

MyHeritage was able to give Georgia the link to know who her father was. Because he is now gone, she won’t ever meet him, but she is now connected to his family.

I have four more sisters!!!! That’s amazing. I am just getting started on my family tree. I have about 35 family members now on the tree.

How does Georgia feel about using DNA for adoption? There are lots of secrets in this world, she says.

DNA opens the door and lets in the light. I deserved to know who my biological parents are. DNA connects people that are searching…and some that weren’t searching. I will be forever grateful for the family that was revealed through a simple DNA test. It’s hard to explain to someone how important it is to “know” who your biological parents are.

I have come to realize that DNA testing, and finding out who your biological parent is, can be seen as a negative to the loved ones in your life. But, I believe, that who I was, and my history with those I love, before this has not changed. My new-found family also has a history before I found them. Who they were and their relationships before I found them won’t change. I am grateful that my “new found” family is so open to letting me build a relationship with them.

Georgia’s number one tip for those just starting out:

Be patient and persevere! I was told that it is almost impossible for a woman to discover her biological father without other known male relatives.

Did you enjoy Georgia’s story? Let us know in the comments below. Do you have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you.

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  • Carole Flanagan


    January 15, 2019

    Reading Georgia’s story has given me hope……I have been unsuccessful so far in locating my birth father and possible half siblings. So far, all the dna matches have been from my mother’s side, but I have known her all my life……my stepfather adopted me when I was about 18 months old and my mother never told me until I was 7 years old. The person on my original birth certificate does not appear to be my father. Everyone who would have known the details of my birth are all deceased. There is a first cousin, two times removed, who is helping me search. She is much more knowledgeable about searching and she is convinced our connection is through my birth father, although her mother is connected on my mother’s side with the surname Smith.

  • DEBORAH HERRON


    January 16, 2019

    I loved these stories. I am a 67 yr old grandmother to 4 boys and one girl. My youngest daughter isn’t married and hope she finds love to give me another granddaughter. I found out a year ago after my A

  • DEBORAH HERRON


    January 16, 2019

    I found out recently that my Dad is not my bio-Dad. He raised me and died in 1998, my mother in 2009. I had my Ancestry DNA, 23 & me and My Heritage Dna (no results as yet) tested. I have a very close match but she was adopted at a very young age. We can’t figure out how we are related. We are thing that maybe our fathers were brothers. I am waiting for my HeritageDNA to come back to see if it sheds some light. I am 67 and who knows how long I have left. I am sure my bio father isn’t alive but would like to find some siblings or cousins and to be one of your success stories.
    Deborah Herron
    239-313-0434