After years of searching, a Naperville woman finds her biological father – Chicago Tribune

Since DNA ancestry testing is so ubiquitous these days, you’re probably like me, and you know at least one or two people who have discovered family members they didn’t know existed.

Most of these connections are compelling, with some yielding happier results than others.

Few, however, could replicate a better Hallmark ending than the 2022 screenplay, starring Naperville’s Angela McGowan and her birth father Tim Mackey of Lindenhurst.

What makes her story so remarkable is that not only had 34-year-old McGowan searched her entire adult life for her birth father, she never stopped believing that one day she would find him, even after being told, he is a “villain”. that he had died years ago, she said.

That her conception was the result of a non-consensual encounter at a party was the original story McGowan received from her birth mother, who she found writing to her when she turned 18 through the agency handling her closed adoption .

McGowan, a new mom herself, loved meeting the woman who gave birth to her. But the two did not develop a close relationship. And even after hearing negative things about her birth father, she continued to ask his name, which wasn’t on the birth certificate. It got to the point about five years ago that McGowan said her birth mother eventually stated she hired a private investigator who found out the man was deceased.

Even then, McGowan was not convinced that this account was true.

Perhaps McGowan refused to give up hope of finding her birth father because she lost her adoptive father, Pat McGowan, to cancer at the age of 4. According to her adoptive mother, Kathy McGowan, she never met this “loving, doting father” except through blurry preschool memories, lots of photos, and lots of stories.

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Unlike her son Jacob, who was adopted 14 months after she and husband Pat brought their daughter home from then-Wheaton-based agency Sunny Ridge, “Angela always wanted to know her place of origin,” Kathy said. And that quest drove her to keep searching, even after receiving the false narratives of her birth father’s death.

It’s a journey that eventually led Angela McGowan to the popular parentage testing website 23andMe, where she hoped to connect with distant relatives who might be able to shed light on this mysterious man who “in my heart has always felt not to be a terrible person”.

Imagine her surprise when on March 1st she received an instant message from someone who shared 49.9% of her DNA. “Hi…I’m a bit confused,” wrote the man who identified himself as Tim.

“FATHER!” She answered quickly. “I’ve been looking for you for 30 years!”

His equally quick response: “Can I call you?”

Ten minutes later, the two spoke on the phone, a conversation that lasted almost an hour.

The following afternoon, Tim Mackey – an engineer who had come to 23andMe a few months earlier to find out more about his medical history – was on her doorstep with a bouquet of pink and white flowers and a sign that read IT’S A GIRL!

“When she hugged me, it wasn’t like hugging a stranger,” Mackey recalled of that tearful encounter. “I didn’t need the DNA. I knew straight away this is my daughter.”

The two ended up chatting for more than eight hours in what McGowan described as “the most natural conversation I’ve ever had in my life.” Not only did father and daughter share the same sense of humor, facial expressions, and “big-hearted” personalities, “it was like we were two peas in a pod,” she said.

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It turns out her birth parents were anything but a one-night encounter, as her birth parents were involved in a serious year-long relationship as a teenager, a story backed by love letters that Tim Mackey continued to keep for all those years later kept.

“I loved her. She loved me,” he said.

Which explains why the then 19-year-old was “so shocked, so hurt” when he showed up on a date with his 17-year-old girlfriend that night in 1988 and her angry father met him on the doorstep. he said.

“All these years I’ve wondered what I did wrong,” Mackey said, recalling the “good relationship” their families had up until the night he was ordered to leave the porch and never come back.

More than three decades later, he admits that since he came from a strictly religious family background, the pregnancy was probably viewed as a shameful family secret. But Mackey can’t help but wonder why “she didn’t love me enough to fight for their relationship.”

Father and child are sure to make up for lost time.

Not only have the two forged a strong bond in the nine months since they found each other, McGowan’s 15-year-old son Jordan also calls Mackey his grandpa. And Angela has grown close to all of his loved ones, including wife Nicole and their three children, and many extended members on both sides of their family.

Kathy McGowan is also enthusiastic. “The more love the merrier,” she told me, gratefully acknowledging the difference Tim Mackey made in her daughter’s life.

“I always prayed for her to be happy,” she said. “In my wildest dreams, I never thought that this would be the answer. Finding her father has given Angela hope.”

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And faith.

“I have always been skeptical of God. But after I met my dad, so many things happened that prove there is a higher power,” said Angela McGowan, including those beautiful red cardinals “that we see everywhere, every time we’re together.”

Perhaps, she wonders, they are a sign that those who preceded them, including her father Pat and her biological grandfather, who also passed away, had a divine hand in bringing this family together.

In a year that has seen so many firsts, both father and daughter agree that this Christmas will surely be filled with joy and wonder.

“I’m just glad,” Mackey said, “that Angela never stopped looking.”

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