"Extended Family" Redefined

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"Extended Family" Redefined

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Posted: 4/17/2010
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My name is Michelle, and my husband John and I have been through a roller-coaster ride over the last few months. For years John has felt a nagging need to contact a woman he dated several years ago. Months after their relationship ended, he learned that she had conceived and delivered a beautiful baby girl, whom she named Danielle. He tried to get in touch with the woman, Trish, but she was not willing to have John in her life at the time. Danielle is a teenager now, and we have both felt the strong desire to find her and let her know that despite John's differences with her mother, he has always thought about her and always loved her.

When we contacted Search Quest America, our case was assigned to Julie Jones. Julie worked so hard and was with us every step of the way. I gave her all the information we had about Trish and Danielle. When Danielle was born, Trish worked in an office in Florida, and I have reason to believe that she is still in Florida today. I told Julie everything I knew, including her approximate age and how old Danielle is today. We asked Julie to tread lightly because we feared that Trish would head for the hills if she was tipped off about us looking for Danielle.

The last thing we wanted to do was cause Danielle any heartache, so we asked that before contacting her, Julie needed to make sure that there wasn't another man in her life who she called "Daddy," someone she loves and believes is her father. We believed that Trish probably lied to Danielle about her true parentage, but in our hearts we felt that Danielle should be very open to learning that her "real" father is out there and looking for her. No matter what, we didn't want to scare her off.

Julie handled the whole situation like a pro. She found Trish and Danielle still living in Florida. When the time was right, she gave us Danielle's direct contact information and John made the call. It was an emotional moment for both he and Danielle. They shed tears of joy at being reunited. Just as John had feared, Dani went through difficult times where she felt abandoned by him. It meant so much to learn that John has always cared about her, always searched for her and that he wants so badly to have her in his life.

As a technicality we also bought a DNA kit and sent off for the results. Dani and John were in touch almost daily and then a few weeks later, we got a letter in the mail. We were shocked to learn that John is NOT Dani's father. We were devastated, and very worried that at her young age, Dani might take the news badly.

We spoke to Trish about the situation to get her advice. She said simply, "You don't understand... it really doesn't MATTER what the test results are. The fact that someone out there was LOOKING for her and WANTED to be her father means everything in the world to her. That's all she needs." Those were her exact words - I'll never forget them.

So, we flew Dani up from Florida, and flew up her best friend Lindsay from South Carolina as well, to made Dani more comfortable. We had the most wonderful three days ever! The girls were wonderful, and I believe Dani had the best time ever. We had some Christmas gifts for them, and John had a beautiful little diamond turtle necklace for Dani (she LOVES turtles). We did everything - went into Manhattan, had snowball fights (she had never seen snow), had a huge NYE party at our house, and the kids all got along really well. There was a lot of bonding going on... and we took them on a shopping spree at the mall, which they LOVED.

We told Dani that we were very sorry that the results came out as they did, but assured her that in John's heart, she's been his daughter for 20 years, and that just doesn't go away that easily. So we agreed to be each others "extended" family, and I believe everyone was happy. We're looking forward to having her come back this summer.

As for Trish, no one is going to tell me that she doesn't know who her daughter's father is. I feel that she wasn't truthful with her daughter at all over the years, and I hope she's correct when saying that this was a GOOD thing for Dani. If so, then it was all worth it.

Julie and Search Quest America, how can we ever thank you for all you've done? You have given John closure, and you've given Dani a "father", even if it isn't by blood. We expect to have many years of having her in our lives. You accomplished the impossible. Thank you a million times over.

(Written by Mica Burton on John and Michelle's behalf.)

Client ID# 264049
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