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From DNA Trauma to DNAngel Part Two

Updated On: February 29, 2024

In the second half of our eye-opening episode, Family Twist host Kendall continues the conversation with Jennifer from DNAngels. This segment illuminates the incredible work of DNAngels in reuniting individuals with their biological families and the profound impact of finding community through this podcast. The discussion delves into the essence of healing, grace, and the friendships forged in the fires of shared experiences.

From DNA Trauma to DNAngel Part Two

Episode Highlights:

  • The Mission of DNAngels: Jennifer explains the organization’s goal to become a beacon of hope for those facing genetic surprises, offering their services free of charge for those seeking to find their biological parents.
  • Success Stories and Specialized Support: With over 5,171 cases solved, DNAngels demonstrates the vast need for such services, highlighting their specialized teams that cater to unique cases, including those involving incest and adoption from various regions.
  • Finding Community: Both Jennifer and Kendall touch on the importance of finding a community that understands and shares similar experiences, offering solace and support in times of turmoil.
  • Healing and Moving Forward: The conversation circles back to the themes of healing, giving grace to oneself and others involved in the discovery process, and the strength found in newfound connections.

Closing Thoughts:

This episode not only showcases the remarkable efforts of DNAngels but also reflects on the personal growth and understanding that comes from facing our origins head-on. Through their stories, Kendall, Corey, and Jennifer remind us that while the journey may be fraught with challenges, the destination of self-discovery and community can offer unparalleled peace and reconciliation.

Guest Bio:

Jennifer Schweibinz is a Genetic Genealogist. Jennifer found her love for Genealogy when she stumbled across an old family secret. As she rolled up her sleeves and tapped into her Jersey Girl stubbornness, she relentlessly worked until she found answers. After that, Jennifer found herself volunteering as intake manager for an organization that could teach her a more methodical approach to being a Search Angel. When that organization merged with DNAngels, Jennifer was welcomed to the new team with open arms, and enjoys every moment of it.

In her personal life, Jennifer lives with her husband, Mark. They have four sons together. She grew up in a close-knit, supportive family and loves when the entire crowd gets together for barbecues in the backyard.

Jennifer’s love language is Acts of Service, which she attributes to her appreciation for everyone that reaches out to DNAngels looking for help. Jennifer was a keynote speaker for the 2022 Illinois State Genealogy Society Annual Conference, a presenter at 2023 Untangling Our Roots Summit in Louisville, KY, and an exhibitor at the 2023 National Genealogical Society conference in Richmond, VA.

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Transcript

Kdendall: and again, to your point. , yours is like mine, my parents, , they weren't involved with other people when I was conceived, you know, so, in that respect, I just, , it, but for my family, it was the age thing, , it was, they were way so young and, and then my mother has, the stigma of immediately getting pregnant a second time.

She kept my sister, Stephanie. , but. , , she gave birth to her two days before she turned 17, you know what I'm saying? So it's like, , if people knew that there was a child older than Stephanie, that would, , be even more of a stigmatizing moment, , like, so I get, I get it. , But it's sad that this many years later, , that we're still kind of chained by those conventions, , I'm.

53 years old. Come on. What I mean? Like, when is it going to be okay? [00:26:00] And it might never be for her. That's kind of what I've decided, ?

Jennifer: Yeah, I, I think it, maybe it never will be. And maybe, maybe, maybe the best that she can offer is to be okay with her other children having a relationship with

Kdendall: Yep.

?

and that's pretty much what I've heard is that, , like, Oh, , I won't, I won't mind if you connect with Kendall, , that sort of thing, which is, is good news because my sister, her daughter, Stephanie, , just took a traveling nurse position in Boston, , in the last, like. Two weeks.

So she's coming today's Saturday on Monday. She's going to come and stay a couple of nights because she has a couple of days off, , so it's just we're To your point, when I met Stephanie, it was this automatic connection. We felt like we had known each other for years, , [00:27:00] and I just adore her, , and, , love having siblings.

, I was raised as, as an only child, but my father remarried after my mother passed away. And, , so I. I have stepsisters that I love very much and felt very, still feel, , close to, but it's different. You know What I mean? It's just nice to have a biological connection. Like you said, , my parents would sometimes be walking along when I was at Small child and they would run across friends that they hadn't seen, , maybe in years and they'd be like, Oh, and this is our son, Kendall.

And people, , I think it's automatic for people. Oh yeah. He looks just like you, , to my mom. And we would all three just chuckle because I'd always known I was adopted. I'd be like. That's sweet. That's cute. But I know I don't, what I mean? It's like, right. I'm like, , do you, are you not seeing what we're seeing?

, so even from a really young age, I felt really comfortable saying I'm unique. I don't really look like these people, but that's okay. ? [00:28:00] And my parents made me feel like that was okay. , like we, , we didn't create you, but we, you're ours now. ? Yeah. Just wonderful people.

Jennifer: That's, that's just, that's so special that, I mean, just to be able to have that opportunity to be, to find that confidence in, , I know I don't look like them and that's okay. Like they're still my parents, , and I think you're right. People probably do. , you see what, like we've said it, right?

You see what you think you see or what you want to see. I mean, I wanted to, I, , I just keep going back. I lost three years because I was like, Oh, it'll update. Like, you just want to, you want it to be what you want it to be. And I, my story, as far as you don't look like them or you look like them is it was always, Oh wait, that's your sister.

, you guys don't look alike always and but that I was like, well, she's my half sister, That's my she looks more like her mom and I look more like my mom We have the [00:29:00] same we have the same dad, , and it's yeah anything alike and And then my younger sister who I always thought was my my full sister turned out to be my half sister my half sister moved into my step sister , that made, that's actually what made me cry was I was like, Oh my God, like, I'm not, I'm not related to her.

She's, and there's the difference. That's at what? 42, 43. I learned the difference of being family and being relative, , other than like, they say your friends are family and your family's friends, , like other than that, like cutesy stuff. And it's like, she's not my relative, but she is my family.

Kdendall: Right.

Jennifer: Very much my family, , more so than my relative who said, no, thank you. Not

Kdendall: Yep.

?

Kdendall: well, you can never put yourself in the other person's shoes. Right. But I just don't, I can't relate to it. Just like, and [00:30:00] that kind of describes my mother's other son. Cause my mother has my two, my two half sisters and my half brother, and he's never been mean to me, but he just, we just.

, I, like I text him and he texts me back. We've never spoken on the phone. I've left him messages. He's never left me a voicemail. I think it's that he's protecting our mother still. Like if she doesn't want to connect with me, then he won't. And I don't judge him for it, , whatever, that's, that's his decision to make.

I mean, he's a grown man and he's 48 years old. It's like, , you could, , whatever, you can do what you want, but it's hard for me to put myself in their place, , to think, how would I feel if I found out that our, my mother had a child, , years before I was born, , , whatever.

Right.

Jennifer: how I don't know. I don't know how it would feel either I like to think that I would be, , well, when can I meet, I'm, I'm pretty sure that I would, [00:31:00] I'm pretty sure that I would say like, at least let me get in touch with her, , just to say, hey, I'm available, , sorry, you're going through this, but I can be an ally and then leave it.

, my son, knows about the whole thing. My son's 25. He's an adult, but. He knows about the whole thing. And he's just like, well, pop ups my pop up and he couldn't really be less interested. He's not mad about it. He's just not interested.

Kdendall: hmm.

Jennifer: not. , and I told my husband and, and my therapist that I still have the hardest time wrapping my head around how it's been, , over two years since I've made contact with my biological father.

And he lives an hour away and I haven't met him my father that raised me, my dad and my husband, I have every confidence in the, in the men that I know them to be, that if they found out that they had another child, cause a woman knows if they have other children and men might not always [00:32:00] know. Sometimes life brings surprises and I have every confidence that if either 1 of them was to get a phone call that says, hey, I think you're my father. Or I've proven that you're my father. that they would say, where are you when can we meet and then, , turn to my mother or to me and say, you can come with me or not, but I'm going.

, and it would be that and. And for me to say, Hey, can we meet? Can we meet? Can we meet? Can we meet? And have it kind of just go, into this abyss. It's like,

Kdendall: I know. And I completely hear you because I'm just built exactly the way you described your dad and your husband. and this does sound judgy when I say it, but I know myself. If, if I were my mother and I found out or my father and I found out, , who, Oh, they're Kendall, that's that kid that we, , didn't know where he was, I wouldn't have been able to go to sleep that night without at least trying to reach out, , that's just who I am.

, because I feel like. [00:33:00] If nothing else, and I think what I love about the work that your organization does and right to know does, and it's, it's that I deserve to be known, I don't need your approval. I don't need your support. I need to be recognized. , You know, and for me, that's what it's kind of about,

Jennifer: , I, I feel like I'm, I'm a nice guy, , like, what is there not to like about me?

Kdendall: So why can't we give it a shot? You know What I mean? Like, that's kind of where I come from, but it's not about me that, , it's, it really is about my mom.

Jennifer: And I think you really just hit on something that I, I don't think that I had put together. there's the flip side of this where sometimes like the child, I don't like sometimes the child doesn't want to have a relationship with them and the biological we'll say father in this circumstance.

But sure. Sometimes, , it could be an adoptive mother is like. Reaching out and [00:34:00] saying, I've, , I want to know you. I want to meet you come to this family event and and then the, the or the adoptee or the donor conceived person is like, I'm not looking for another family. I just needed to know my medical history.

, so sometimes it goes just reverse and I think that's the hard thing to recognize is 1. there's no rule book. And two, like, these dynamics can be all over the place. Maybe it's not that you're, that she might not like you. Maybe she's afraid you won't like her.

Kdendall: Yep.

?

see that. I do. I do. We joke, , Corey and I about, I am, , the gay son. Right. Maybe that's part of it. She does live in Southern Louisiana. You hate to stereotype. There are great people in Southern Louisiana, Louisiana that wouldn't be, close minded, but I get the feeling that maybe she is, you know what I mean?

So like it's, it's complex, right? It's not just,

Jennifer: And that's, that's really, I mean, that's just all speculation. That's

Kdendall: [00:35:00] it is. It is because anytime I ask my sisters who obviously know our mother, , they're like, well, I don't know. I don't know how, you know what I mean? Like, and I, and I, I believe that, like, I don't know that they know really what the reason is. , Because from 2017, when I found them all, I immediately, I'm just, I'm a gift giver.

And like that first Christmas, I like sent my mother a Christmas gift. I've never, never spoken to her. sent it to my, my youngest sister's house, they presented it to my mother, apparently, and she literally just picked up the gift, looked at it, saw that it was for me.

Set it aside, never opened it, never said, tell him I got it. Tell him never to send me another, didn't acknowledge that it happened. And that's just kind of the way it's been, not like mean about anything, but just not engaged, , like,

Jennifer: just can't go there. That's just can't go there. I think

Kdendall: I know.

Jennifer: I mean, that's like my [00:36:00] biologic father, right? That it's just like he just can't go there. He can't say no and he can't say yes. He just can't acknowledge it. If if if he gives it an answer, he's acknowledging it. And I can't help but wonder

Is that a generational thing? I think that again, that comes down to, we'll just never know. But the,

Kdendall: you.

Jennifer: intense and, it, it saddens me, , because I think it's a sign of just being in either pain or shame. and I certainly don't hold any anger. Like, in the slightest bit, I really don't.

did your biological father know that your mother was pregnant?

That's a great question. , if you find out, let me know.

Kdendall: Okay, okay.

Jennifer: , my, my mother said that she remembers as if it was yesterday that the two of them were walking through a local historic park and. She, the way she told the story, I honestly can't help but believe her [00:37:00] because it was so descriptive, but she said she remembers walking through this park as he was talking and like completely distracted and gearing herself up and then she finally blurted out, I'm pregnant and he said, well, that's not my baby and she said, yeah, , of course it is.

And he was like, there's no way. And that's the last time that she spoke to him. And then she said that she and my father ran into him, , a couple of years later after they married and my younger sister was born she said, this is my husband and, , , we've got his daughter and two other kids and he said, oh, well, that, that happened quick as if said it was as if he completely forgot that I told him,

Kdendall: Mm hmm. Mm

Jennifer: and so when I talked to him, when I made contact the first time on the phone, and I said, , this is a story and he remembered my mom's [00:38:00] name.

He was like, Oh, how is she? And I was like, she's good. Oh, like, like it was just not sinking in. And he's, so he's, I said, she's good. She's good. And he's like, Oh, that's good. So what are you calling about again? And I was like, well, you're my biological father. And he said, well, why didn't she ever tell me?

Kdendall: Oh.

Jennifer: And I thought, Oh my God, cause I knew she'd hit this for me my whole life.

And I went right back to, is this another, like, I'm trying to like save my pride here by saying, I told him type of thing. So I took that to my therapist and it comes down to, I'll never know the truth, but, cause I was like, there's no way that's something that you forget.

Kdendall: No. Hmm. Wow.

Jennifer: incorrect assumption because she said that if, if you get news, that is that massive and you just suppress it [00:39:00] for, I mean, almost 40 years.

Well, at that time it no, it had been over 40 years. You can get to a point where you, your brain, like, just doesn't remember and she's like, maybe it's deep in there somewhere. But she's like, you can absolutely just block it out of your memory. And I was like, Oh my God. So she said that there, , she thinks we'll never really know for sure.

But my mom's story, that was pretty hard for me to, to not believe.

Kdendall: Mm hmm. Hmm.

Jennifer: Oh, not my finest moment, but I had reached out to him via LinkedIn because he's not on any social media because he works for the government. I found him on LinkedIn and, , I wrote up this, , these are some of my matches.

This is some of this, like, just trying to prove that I'm not. Like a hoax or anything and I said, and I don't want money. I'm not trying to, , do anything [00:40:00] weird, but I just thought I just thought you might want to know that I exist in case you ever need a kidney

Kdendall: Hey,

Jennifer: Hey

Kdendall: , it's pragmatic. I, I get it. I get it.

Jennifer: Yeah, I was like, I don't know what to do so Yeah,

Kdendall: just know where I am. You want to make like just, , and I know he could find me quite quickly, but, , it's just bizarre to me cause I've just, I want to know everybody in my family, , I may not.

I may not. Agree with you on everything. And, , if you're a homophobe, we're going to have problems, but, , at the same time, , it's, I'm still your half brother, ? So it is what it is.

Jennifer: you ever need a kidney, don't come to me,

Kdendall: Yeah. Yeah. I just, it's bizarre. gosh, family dynamics, I never expected to have them.

Jennifer: right, right.

Kdendall: Corey and I always laugh about that because honestly, by the time I turned [00:41:00] 40, , I had kind of given up. I had, I had tried every Avenue I could try, , it was a private adoption. I tried to have my records unsealed, , decades ago and. , , it, it didn't happen and, and I registered with every registry that could possibly have matched me with, , the, even, , the siblings, , and, and the funny thing is my father's son, Chris, who's been on the show, he was trying to find me because, , my father had always been truthful.

almost always been truthful about the fact that I was out there. And so, , my stepmother knew I existed. My brother, when he found out, wanted to find me, and tried. And, , even he had, I don't want to say he'd given up, but we just, , you just kind of lose hope at some

Jennifer: feels futile. Yeah.

Kdendall: it's like, well, okay, why am I beating my head against this wall?

but ironically, [00:42:00] 2017, my brother's wife got him his DNA kit for his birthday. And then, which is in February, and then my birthday came along in July and Corey got me my DNA. It's so interesting

Jennifer: is.

Kdendall: things just meshed, , it's, it's, I don't believe in fate or any of that stuff, but it, it makes me question like, huh, that feels kind of metaphysical, , it's just the way it all came to be, but

Jennifer: Yeah. So that's how you found your family? Your biological family? From a half brother match.

Kdendall: Yep.

Jennifer: Oh, that's amazing.

Kdendall: Yeah. I'll never forget that, that day because, , when I put in my DNA, I hoped, , to find somebody and I got the result. I was sitting in my office in San Francisco and I got an email on my personal email on my lunch break. And it said, congratulations, your results are in.

And I was like, and the funny thing is when I had submitted the, . DNA sample, it [00:43:00] told me it probably would take six to eight weeks and it had only been right at three weeks. And I was like, Oh, they're just trying to sell me something. They really aren't thin, , like they don't have the results yet.

But I clicked into the email, which of course took me over to the ancestry. com site. And my joke about it is that I never remember passwords, but I must've really wanted to remember that one. Cause I typed it right in and, , bam, my brother shows at the top of the list and he was. Smart it just said his name.

Like it just said, Christopher Clark. It didn't say that he was a man. It didn't say his age. It didn't say where he was anything. And I just thought, what the hell? So I clicked on it. I sent him a note. I was like, here's what I know. My name was Scott white. I was born July 14th, 1970 in little rock. here's my phone number.

let me know if that means anything to you. Cause you, you're my top match five minutes later, he sent, he sent me a note back through the, he's like [00:44:00] calling you now, my desk phone rings. I pick up the phone and he's like, Kendall, I'm your half brother. And I just, to this day, it was just the most like.

I'm 47 years old. I didn't think I was ever going to find anyone and, , suddenly found out, , my birth parents are, well, I didn't know about my birth mother, but that my dad was living, that he went on to have three other kids. And then, so that happened on August 23rd and. It only took until Labor Day for Chris to keep bugging our dad.

He's like, Kendall doesn't know his birth mother. Give us some clues to help us. 'cause she has a very common name. and so we're like, help us find this person. And he, rem dad remembered that my. My mother who had a sister two years younger in school, he remembered that she has a regular first name, but had a very [00:45:00] unique, , her name is Belinda and she, she, her nickname was binky and everybody, including the teachers called her that at school.

And so when Chris called me on labor day, he's like, are you sitting down? And I was like, no. And he said, I just found your birth mother. And he said, because all he did was type in my birth mother's name and Belinda Binky white. And the first thing that popped up was my dead grandfather's obituary that said that he had two daughters.

And while I'm talking to Chris, while he's telling me this and I'm like bawling, I'm on Facebook and. I'm not kidding you, Jennifer, in five minutes, I had found a Jackie who had a sister named Binky. I mean, and I knew I'm like, of course, that's who this is, , and I could easily see that my birth mother had three other kids and I just was losing my mind.

It was bizarre and [00:46:00] crazy. And that's when Corey gave me the advice, like, maybe you want to pump the brakes for a minute. And I'm like, Nope. I'm not doing it.

Jennifer: Yeah. It's like a runaway roller coaster, right? It's like, if I stop, it's going to like, I've waited too long. I cannot stop. I'm going, , so just be here to catch me if I fall. Cause I'm going.

Kdendall: that's right. I know it's funny because I immediately sent a Facebook message to all three of my siblings in my, well, and to my birth mother who I could see hadn't been on Facebook in two years. So I thought, well, that's kind of a lost cause and to my auntie. So my mom's sister, I could see all of them and it, I know it was only two hours, but Corey said that I was going to.

Pace a rut into the floor. I like, I was like frantic for those two hours and it only took two hours, but my baby sister messaged me back on Facebook, keeping in mind, she did not know that I existed [00:47:00] and she said, , I believe that. What you're saying is true because what I said was, you might not know I exist, but I think I'm your half brother.

I was blah, blah, blah. I gave her the same details that I just said about what I told Chris. And she apparently was with my mother shopping at Labor Day sale shopping. And she said, when she first got the message on Facebook, she was like, this sounds like a hoax. She's just. Turned the phone around and showed it to our mom.

And she said, I almost had to catch her. She almost like fainted. And she said, Kendall, she didn't have to tell me it was true. She's like, , it was real. And I knew that moment that you existed and it was crazy.

Jennifer: crazy. My gosh. I can just picture, I remember walking through the same thing, just wear a rut in the floor because you can't sit, you can't stop, it is, it becomes like a compulsion. You work so hard for these answers, [00:48:00] there's so much emotion, and if you don't understand it, then I'm happy for you because that means you've never been in a situation where you've tried to identify your biological parents.

I'm happy that you haven't had to because everybody who gets it has , gets it for a reason, , so, yeah. Mm. Those, that, those half, , sibling matches, so they come up. They could either be, , an aunt and uncle. A niece and nephew, or a half sibling, I mean, there's only so many options. So we look at those and think, okay, what's the age?

, what's this? What's that? And start to work it out. Those are great matches as a search angel. Very rare. Very rare do we get a case with a match that high, but we've had, we had 1 person reach out and say. This person, , I'm trying to find out who my biological father is, , blah, blah, blah.

And they share their DNA with us. And that's a match. And it's like, [00:49:00] that's, , but if you don't know what you're looking at, you don't, you don't necessarily see it. , or you're like so many of us where it's like, that can't be right. , it's, that's, , so we just,

Kdendall: what I've been told.

Jennifer: Right. Mom said his name was Joe and this guy's name is Jack.

So that's not the like, I don't know who this guy is type of thing. ,

Kdendall: Well, right.

Jennifer: of questions about that stuff and then there's some hard ones too, but,

Kdendall: Well, I mean, , my brother Chris said he'd always know, , he'd always heard that my name was Scott. Our father's name is Scott, which is why my mother named me Scott. And then her last name was white. And so as soon as he. Saw that, , and he, he didn't, I don't think he knew that my birthday was July 14th, but when he knew it was like, Oh, the summer of 1970, that's when Scott was born, , like it just all made sense to him.

And he really [00:50:00] didn't quite, especially since he was looking at the same result on ancestry that I was like, Oh yes, you show up really high on mine. And he hadn't looked that day. , he, and His wife and their kids were on vacation and, , And that's when it just happened that I looked and got my result.

And he's like, Oh my gosh, I've been checking so regularly and I can't believe you found it before I did. , like, I, I can't believe that you noticed and I hadn't noticed. And I was like, I get it. , Unless you're waiting for a notification, you're not going to. I'm going to be on there all the time.

Jennifer: Right. Right. Right. Right. Yeah. Oh, I'm so happy that you two found each other.

Kdendall: just, and now, I mean, he lives in Massachusetts, so that's, I mean, he's one of the reasons, of course, that we moved here and got to see that. We didn't see them on Christmas, but we hung out with them the weekend before. , it's just going from going to have zero siblings, zero nieces and nephews to having [00:51:00] six half siblings and 13 nieces and nephews overnight is just crazy.

It's just, it's. It's. Bizarre, ?

Jennifer: Right. Right. Yeah. That's a lot. That's like I mean, that just takes some time to let all that sink in, get the name straight, get the, like who belongs to who?

Kdendall: Yep.

Jennifer: you're, you're kind of jumping in on the deep end.

Kdendall: Yep. And Corey still uses my, my little cheat sheet for himself. He's like, I mean, , the local people, of course he remembered, but yeah, I get it. It's hard, ,

Jennifer: sure. Sure.

Kdendall: it's fantastic. So, well, I hope, , at some point you're. Birth father feels, , comfortable connecting more and is he married to you or do whether he's married to the mother of your half siblings?

Jennifer: they're divorced.

Kdendall: Oh, okay. So it's not like she's holding him back from doing anything. Yeah. Yeah. Hmm.

Jennifer: I [00:52:00] appreciate it. We'll see, , we'll just see what the future holds.

I am lucky, , to come from the family that I came from in that I really, Okay.

I don't feel anything other than confused about why we haven't met yet, but I'm not like I never had a dad. I really like, I need to know you, , and I'm, , like, I'm, I'm okay. , I've got a great support system and all that, but we see. that that is

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