After 28 Years of Searching, I Solved a Lifelong Mystery and Found My Brother with MyHeritage DNA

After 28 Years of Searching, I Solved a Lifelong Mystery and Found My Brother with MyHeritage DNA

When Estela Ramos was 14 years old, she studied blood types in biology class, and realized something was amiss. She knew that her blood type was O, her mother’s was A, and her father’s was AB… and realized that, given the basic principles of heredity and the fact that blood type O is an expression of a recessive gene, it was impossible for the child of two people with the dominant A and AB blood type genes to have type O blood.

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Maria Estela Ramos, Argentina

There was only one explanation: the parents who raised her were not her biological parents.

Estela questioned her parents, but didn’t get any concrete answers from them. She let it go, but couldn’t shake the sense of unease that she didn’t really know who she was.

When she mentioned the matter to her husband, he asked her a question that stopped her in her tracks:

“How can you live with a doubt like this?”

“When I became a mother, I asked again about my adoption,” Estela says. Her mother was not forthcoming, but as fate would have it, Estela overheard a comment a visitor made to her mother that confirmed what she already knew: Estela was not the biological daughter of the woman who raised her. “She looked at me and said, ‘This must be the girl my mother told me you adopted!'” says Estela.

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Maria Estela Ramos as a young child

“From that moment forward, my search didn’t stop,” says Estela. “I obtained my birth certificate and I researched every name and date so I could understand my story. This was not easy work, because though the indications were clear, the truth is a treasure you must pursue until you reach it. They were all half-truths, and that’s where the emotions work against you. Not only were we challenged by the environment, our society, our family, but also, we truth-seekers must really work to believe that we deserve to know the truth. We must know our origins.”

Estela tries DNA testing

Estela took a DNA test with CONADI, an organization that locates missing children, but the results indicated that she was not a missing child. She was back at square one, and even worse, she had come this far without finding any answers. She began to think this was all that could be done.

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Alejandra Goicoechea, founder of Encontrarnos

But Estela’s determination was greater than the doubts and she met Alejandra Goicoechea, founder of the Encontrarnos organization, which recommended taking a MyHeritage DNA test.

“One of the fundamental differences, when a person wants to take a DNA test to find their origins is that a ‘regular’ or ‘comparison’ DNA test requires a possible brother or parent to have tested, so the samples can be compared and we can see if they indicate any shared percentage of DNA,” says Alejandra. “This cannot be done with missing people or stolen babies, because the data found in the documents was deliberately altered and these people have basically disappeared. That’s why the database aspect is fundamental, meaning the number of people your DNA can be compared to, who may offer a match or become key to your search. We work to ensure that all people who take the test understand in advance what kinds of results they will receive and how to interpret them.”

Alejandra founded Encontrarnos after finding her own family using a MyHeritage DNA test and deciding to help others find their birth families, too. MyHeritage has donated 100 kits to her organization to help people searching for their birth families make progress with their search for free. You can read more about Alejandra and Encontrarnos in our blog post about her story.

The Ethnicity Estimate provides a major clue

Estela knew that a MyHeritage DNA test could provide more information about her origins. So she took the test, and she was very surprised when the results revealed that she is 19.6% West Asian, with a Genetic Group centered in Armenia. Among her DNA Matches she saw a number of repeating surnames and a common region: Aintab.

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From Estela’s Ethnicity Estimate on MyHeritage

With some further help, Estela was able to build a family tree for a matching surname. Knowing that her success depended on thorough research, she documented as much as she could of her findings by contacting specific groups of Armenian expats in Argentina, Canada, the U.S., and Kuwait.

With the information she gathered, she was able to explain her research to potential relatives and ask them to take a DNA test. One possible relative agreed to help, and took a DNA test that Estela supplied.

In November 2022, Estela received confirmation that she had found a niece.

Traveling to Mar del Plata and finding joy

To reach the final results, Estela had to travel to Mar del Plata, 400 kilometers away from where she lived, to ask someone to take a DNA test: someone who might be her brother.

Estela boldly knocked on the door of José (Ricky), who she believed to be her brother, with a MyHeritage DNA kit in hand. She quickly recounted the whole story to him and he said, “You have found me! There’s no need for me to take a DNA test.”

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The DNA match between Estela and José (Ricky)

The city of Mar del Plata is also known as “La Feliz,” or “joy,” and Estela has enjoyed traveling there many times in her life. She never imagined that this city would bring the ultimate joy into her life: a brother, and some answers to the questions she’d been asking herself since she was 14 years old.

Estela’s search continues

Now Estela has more information: she knows that her father’s name was Jorge, but was known as Fernando, and that he was born on February 8, 1930. He worked as a driver for a governor.

She hopes these details will help her find her mother and other siblings.

Estela wants other people who are searching to know that there are many ways to find your birth family: “The DNA test is what leads us to the truth. It’s the only certainty to start the journey. Searching isn’t easy, but it’s possible. If I found the needle in the haystack… why can’t others? Science and the existence of such large DNA databases allows us to start our journey to the truth, which is nothing more or less than our identity.”

Many thanks to Estela Ramos for sharing her incredible story with us. If you’ve also made an extraordinary discovery with MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it! Please send it to us via this form or email us at stories@myheritage.com.

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