You are NOT the father!
Not My Biological Father
I had always suspected something, as I look nothing like the man who raised me. I was never told I had his nose, smile, or any other physical characteristic. In spite of that, he remains the only father I have ever known.
His name is printed on my birth certificate and he raised me after my mom made the heart-wrenching decision to leave when I was one. Her goal? To get her life on track. She was 17 and unprepared for parenthood. My twin brother and I have never held that against her.
I remember a specific day during my elementary school years where I got upset with my dad after getting in trouble. As he left my bedroom and went down the stairs, I screamed: “You’re not my real dad!” I was not the first (and certainly not the last) child to ever shout that phrase in a moment of anger, but in retrospect, I would have refrained from doing so entirely. It cut deep for him… and I noticed.
Fast-forward to 2004. I was 16 and my brother and I had been out of touch with our mom since 2001. We lost contact between a series of moves and phone number changes. This was before everyone (and their mother) had a cell phone and a social media account. At the time, we were living in southern Oregon and she was nearly 2,000 miles away in Oklahoma.
We had tried calling 411 (directory assistance) on numerous occasions hoping to discover a lead but to no avail. One fated night, I was overtaken by the urge to try again. I was alone in my room and had compiled a list of several numbers. One by one, I dialed the numbers and gave my spiel:
Hello, my name is Julian Velasquez. I’m 16 years old and I’m trying to find my mom.
Some calls rang with no answer, some reached voicemail, and others were answered by strangers who couldn’t help. With only two numbers left, I was losing hope. Something told me to keep going, so I dialed the second-to-last number and waited. Several rings later, a woman answered the phone. It was her.
I’ll never forget the night she revealed some details about my biological father. We had been back in contact for a few weeks at the time. I was on the floor in the living room, home alone. She told me she had some news to share that might be a bit shocking. I took a deep breath and told her I was ready.
Moments later, she revealed that the man who raised me was not the one who helped conceive me. She had no photos or recent contact with the mystery man and explained that he had not wanted children and had decided to move on after finding out she was pregnant. She did give a name, but it was so common that I had no hope of ever finding him to obtain proof. I tried for many years with no luck.
From that night onward, I accepted it as tentative fact. I could feel it. It meshed with what I had always suspected, but never changed the way I felt about the father and grandfather who helped raise me. Nor did it change my relationship with any of the twelve siblings I had grown up around. My twin was not so quick to accept it, and it would be fourteen years before the truth would be within grasp.
Enter Ancestry.com — Fourteen Years Later
In April 2018, one of my sisters gifted my twin and me with AncestryDNA tests for our 30th birthday. When our results came in, we were shocked to discover that we are actually identical twins. We were always told we were fraternal. This was a fascinating discovery but was not the only revelation uncovered by the results.
The same sister who had gifted us the DNA tests had sent in a sample as well, but she was nowhere to be found on our list of DNA matches. This was the first step toward learning the truth.
In December 2018, I came across a fascinating BuzzFeedVideo series titled I Found Out My Dad’s Not My Biological Father Through a DNA Test. It detailed the story of a girl who discovered she was born as the result of donor insemination. Through a combination of consumer DNA tests from 23andMe and AncestryDNA, she discovered her biological father was a successful surgeon in New York.
This reignited my curiosity tenfold and I decided it was time to revisit my pursuit of the truth. I showed my twin the BuzzFeedVideo series and it sparked his interest as well.
We dove deeper into our DNA test results and started reaching out to anyone we suspected was not from our mom’s side of the family. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get responses and most of the individuals we heard back from were distant relatives unfamiliar with the name of our alleged biological father.
On a whim, my brother reached to our mom for more insight. Thanks to the modern wonders of social media, she located a profile she believed might belong to the man she was certain was our biological father. This was exactly the type of thread we needed. We committed to unraveling it, hoping the truth would be at its end.
Reaching the End of the Thread
The Facebook page did not yield instant confirmation and we received no response after reaching out via direct message. However, looking at the few photos on the page sent shivers down my spine. It was entirely plausible at that moment that the man I was looking at was the one whose DNA I shared.
This eventually resulted in the discovery of an Instagram profile belonging to the man’s daughter. My brother reached out, hoping to move us closer to the truth. Initially hesitant, as anyone might be when receiving a follow request from a stranger at the turn of the new year, she eventually agreed to have a conversation with him.
In that conversation, she revealed that her mother had discussed the possibility of her having additional siblings, but until we had reached out it had only been a possibility. Still, we yearned to know the truth and offered to send her an AncestryDNA test to confirm once and for all.
We knew it was entirely possible the original Facebook profile we found simply belonged to a man with the same name as our alleged biological father, but there was an unmistakable sense of fate driving the experience. We waited impatiently for several weeks. Each passing day became more agonizing as we checked to see if she had popped up under our DNA matches.
Then one day… she did. There she was, higher on the list than our aunt (our mother’s sister). This confirmed not only that she was our sister, but that her father was our father and her brother was our brother.
Mind-blowing doesn’t even begin to describe it. The only time I felt something similar was when my mom picked up the phone on that fated day we were reunited.
I grew up thinking 12 siblings were a lot, but 14 is my new normal. Only time will tell what happens next, but I can say for sure I have had no shortage of surprises in my life. I am thankful to the family I had the pleasure of growing up with and to have finally located the missing piece of the puzzle of how I came to be.
A special shoutout goes to our newly discovered sister, for without her curiosity and willingness we might never have confirmed the truth. She has one of the warmest hearts I have ever encountered and I cannot wait for the day we finally meet in person. Thank you, sis!