Thanks to MyHeritage DNA Quest, I Had Both of My Dads to Walk Me Down the Aisle

Thanks to MyHeritage DNA Quest, I Had Both of My Dads to Walk Me Down the Aisle

Kara Miller was placed for a closed adoption when she was two days old. Years after taking a DNA test through MyHeritage’s pro bono project DNA Quest, Kara received a match that led her to connect with both of her birth parents. Months later, both her birth dad and her adoptive dad were able to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day — as recently reported in People Magazine.

Kara grew up fully aware that she was adopted. She was the oldest of 4 girls, 3 of whom were adopted, and her family took pride in their identity and encouraged them in their curiosity about their pasts and their families.

Kara celebrates a birthday with her adoptive family

Kara celebrates a birthday with her adoptive family

But because Kara’s adoption was closed, and the agency that had facilitated the adoption had since shut down, she wasn’t sure how to go about finding her birth parents when she turned 18. The information she had about her parents was minimal: she had a name for her mother (which turned out to be inaccurate), and a few minor details, but nothing about her father.

Years ago, Kara’s adopted mother learned about DNA Quest — a MyHeritage pro bono project that sends free DNA kits to adoptees searching for their birth families — and encouraged Kara to apply. This is what Kara submitted to us when asked why she would like to take a DNA test:

“I was adopted at 2 days old and it was truly a blessing. My brave mom gave me up so I could have a better life and I will thank her for that forever. My birth mom was only 16 when I was born. My birth grandpa said that he would be thinking about me every day. I have tried to live a life that all of my family would be proud of. I really want to meet my birth parents and grandparents so I can thank them for everything they’ve given me. I want to learn about who they are and share our stories with one another.”

Kara was granted a free DNA kit and she took the test. Unfortunately, no close relatives came up in her matches. For years, she checked every single DNA Match email she received through MyHeritage, but the matches were always distant.

Until one morning in February, 2021.

‘I think you found us’

“I have a bad habit of looking at my phone first thing in the morning,” Kara laughs. That morning, she glanced at her phone and saw just one notification: an email from MyHeritage informing her that she had a new DNA match. She opened the email, and couldn’t believe her eyes: it was a 25% match with a woman named Andrea.

Based on Andrea’s age group, Kara deduced that this woman must be her aunt.

Kara immediately wrote to Andrea and called her mother to share what she had just discovered. They waited anxiously to hear back from Andrea for another day and a half — until Kara got a message from someone else who was also a 25% match! It was Andrea’s mother, Pam. That family relationship plus the 25% match indicated without a doubt that Pam was Kara’s grandmother.

After a flurry of messages between the family members, Andrea and Pam recalled something they had known many years ago. Pam’s son Mark — Andrea’s brother — had fathered a baby girl when he was 19. Pam knew about it at the time, and 8 years ago, Mark had shared this information with Andrea over lunch.

“I think you found us,” Andrea wrote to Kara.

Kara with her biological aunt, Andrea

Kara with her biological aunt, Andrea

It turned out that Andrea had recently uploaded her DNA and her mother’s DNA to MyHeritage when learning that she could do so for free. She is currently studying toward a degree with a minor in family history, and that’s why she took an interest in genealogy and DNA. She never dreamed she would find her brother’s biological daughter.

Andrea wrote to Mark to tell him what had happened. At first, he said he would like to do a DNA test to confirm, but Andrea told him that because Kara matched both with her and with their mother, it was 100% clear that Kara was his daughter. So he asked for her details and said he would like to speak with her.

‘I needed some time with my daughter’

“I was 19 when Kara was born, I didn’t know anything about her aside from her first name,” says Mark. “When you are young, you don’t understand the meaning of having a child and giving her to someone else. But it’s hard, you wonder who she is, how was she raised? Is she happy?”

Mark and Kara corresponded on Facebook until the wee hours of the morning. They decided to meet, but because it was such a busy time at work, Mark had to set a date for two weeks later. “After a few days, I felt that I just couldn’t wait and asked to meet sooner,” he says. “We live a two hour drive from each other, so we met at a pizza place. It was very exciting.”

Kara with her biological father, Mark

Kara with her biological father, Mark

Mark was also in touch with Kara’s birth mother, and he made the connection — but not before taking a few days to get to know Kara himself. “I felt that I wanted her to myself, I needed some time with my daughter,” he says.

‘I never stopped thinking of her’

Kara’s biological mother, Shannon, was overjoyed to hear the news.

“I always hoped I’d find her, to make sure she got a better life, like I hoped she would, to know that I made the right decision, even though it was so hard for me,” says Shannon. “I wanted her to find me, so I used to update my contact details every year with the adoption agency. I assumed this would be the only way she could find me.”

Shannon was only 16 when she got pregnant with Kara. “My father thought I should raise her,” she says, “but I wanted her to have a good life, to have a father and a mother who will take good care of her. So I placed my baby for adoption.”

“I never stopped thinking of her,” Shannon goes on. “I had her photos, I even kept the ultrasound photo of her. Every year, on her birthday, I would put notes in balloons and send them off, and save books for her, dreaming that she would get them one day.”

But Shannon was convinced that she should not make an attempt to find and contact her daughter. 10 years ago, Mark reconnected with Shannon and tried to convince her that they should find their daughter, but she refused. “I told him that even though I want it badly, it needs to come from her and we can’t just barge into her life,” she says.

She says the DNA option had never occurred to her. “When I got the call from Mark, saying that he found Kara, I felt so happy but also so sad. I was sad because I was far from her and couldn’t take my car and drive to see her immediately.”

“Meeting her, knowing that her lovely parents took good care of her, is a healing experience for me,” she adds.

Kara with her biological mother, Shannon

Kara with her biological mother, Shannon

Down the aisle with both dads

The story came beautifully full circle this September, when Kara got married and invited both her adopted and her biological fathers to walk her down the aisle. Mark, her birth father, walked her halfway, and then Doug, her adoptive dad, took it from there.

“I had moments in my life where I wondered if there’s anyone that looks like me,” says Kara. “I always wanted to meet my family but I didn’t realize I was going to be so happy about it. It just feels so good. Now I have a whole new family. I have everybody that I need.”