I Found My Granddaughter Thanks to DNA Quest… and a Brother Living 8 Blocks Away

I Found My Granddaughter Thanks to DNA Quest… and a Brother Living 8 Blocks Away

Back in June, we reached out to beneficiaries of DNA Quest — our pro bono project to reunite adoptees with their birth families using DNA testing— to check in and see if they had any stories they wanted to share with us. We received some amazing replies, and one of them came to us from Melvin Gray. Thanks to DNA Quest, he found the daughter of his long-lost daughter… and then, he found a brother who was living a 10-minute walk away! Watch an interview with Mel and his brother on the Fox News segment that covered this story.

If you’ve made an incredible discovery through MyHeritage like Mel did, we want to hear it! Please send it to us.

Here’s Mel’s story:

I will forever be grateful to MyHeritage because it changed my life.

A river of tears of happiness cannot explain how I feel.

I found my granddaughter and brother thanks to DNA Quest. I discovered to my amazement that my brother had lived all these years 8 blocks away, barely a 10-minute walk. In my wildest dreams I did not think that would be the result.

‘There was a hole in my heart that was my missing daughter’

My name is Melvin Gray. I’m 61 years old from Kansas. A former military man, I have served the country wherever possible in the world.

When I was 17, my girlfriend got pregnant from me and gave birth to a daughter for me. I loved her and wanted to raise the girl; I enlisted in the army so I could support both of them, but unfortunately my girlfriend’s parents did not like me. They wanted me to leave her and forced me to sign the adoption papers. They threatened me that if I did not sign, they would make sure I went to jail (even though I was younger than my girlfriend). I did not understand what it meant and what my options were, so I signed the documents.

Then I had to sever ties with my girlfriend, and I enlisted in the military and served many years in various places. I have been everywhere possible, in the Far East, in the Middle East. I was in Iraq twice, in Kuwait twice, I even served in Europe. I did start a family of my own and have 3 wonderful children, 4 grandchildren, and a wife who has made my life mostly complete. However, there was a hole in my heart that was my missing daughter. I left a note in my daughters’ adoption file once she would have turned 18, she would have had access to the note, but I didn’t hear from her. But hope was all I had left at that time.

Family is a complex thing for me. I was adopted when I was 4, by a woman who was herself adopted. I never had any family ties — I knew nothing about my roots.

One day I saw a news item about MyHeritage’s pro bono project to help adoptees and decided I had nothing to lose. I filled out the form and sent it and was soon informed that I had applied for approval, received a free kit, and immediately sent it to the lab.

Two weeks passed and the results arrived. I signed into the account and didn’t believe what I saw — a match with a granddaughter! It was clear to me that this was the daughter of my daughter who was placed for adoption! Tears of happiness flowed from my eyes. My granddaughter was also looking for relatives and sent in her DNA test. That is how the connection was made.

I sent a message and another message, but it took her a month until she saw the message from me. When I got an answer from her, I was extremely happy.

I told her who I was and felt she was careful, not in a hurry to volunteer information. We talked a lot and decided to meet. We lived about a 45-minute drive from each other, and we met halfway at a coffee shop.

Photo from Mel's first meeting with his granddaughter Ophelia

The day I met my granddaughter, Ophelia, for the first time

The meeting was very exciting. I have been waiting for this moment for many, many years. Only when we met face to face, she told me that my daughter passed away several years ago and unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to see her and hug her.

In the meeting with my granddaughter, she showed me pictures of her mother — my daughter and other relatives. This exciting meeting has since become a strong bond between grandfather and granddaughter. We are in a great relationship, meet and talk as often as we can, we have been celebrating every possible holiday together ever since — Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day. 

One discovery leads to another

My middle daughter was looking for information on our heritage since my mother and I were both adopted, and she discovered that I had a brother that I did not know about. One of his sisters had sent in a DNA test and that allowed us to make a connection. My daughter sent him a message on social media and eventually connected. When she told me about the DNA match, I reached out to make contact in person once she obtained his address. I found out by the address that we lived within 8 blocks of each other. When we first met in person the similarities were astonishing.

Brothers watching a game

My brother and I side by side in his living room watching a Chiefs game

My brother, Tom, is a little younger than me and was raised by my father and his mother. He had details about our father and his other relatives that I would have never known. Through our conversations we found out the truly amazing part is that my brother and I have lived near each other for most of our lives. He lived on 29th street and I lived on 22nd street as children.

Our father passed away when I was 11 and is buried in a cemetery not even a mile from my house. My brother took me to the cemetery so I could see my father’s final resting place. My grandfather that raised me until his passing when I was 9 served in the Navy during WWII, my brother served in the Navy, my daughter who passed away served in the Navy, my father served in the Marines, and I served in the Army and Air Force. I guess the only branch we didn’t cover is the Coast Guard.

Two shoes next to a military headstone

My brother and I at our father’s final resting place

And the most amazing thing about the whole thing is that my brother and I lived almost all our lives very near to each other. We have mutual friends, we hung out in the same places. He was a regular customer at the store my wife worked at and they knew each other, not knowing he was my brother.

We are physically similar to each other; we both have long hair. We both love motorcycles and fishing, camping, and old cars. It is inconceivable that all these years we were so close and did not know.

Dear God, thanks to this MyHeritage project, my life has changed for the better and I will never forget it. I hope my story inspires others to never give up and believe it is possible. I truly appreciate and respect the work that this organization undertakes to assist families in finding their missing relatives.

Ophelia, Tom. and me

Ophelia, Tom. and me

Many thanks to Mel for sharing his story! If you have a story to share — please send it to us via this form or email it to us at stories@myheritage.com.