The Christmas Gift Under The Tree That Grew Into A Family Tree

The gift that helped to end a 55 year mystery.


The question I should have asked Bill about the DNA test kit he gave his wife Kelly for Christmas last year was, what did he think would happen? What did happen was an incredible life-changing event for Kelly and a family mystery that looked to be unsolvable finally revealed. Kelly was born in 1962 and immediately given up for adoption. She was to search for her biological family without any success until this year.

I now have to back this story up about fifteen years and give a little background. I have been researching my father’s family which had been scattered due to some unfortunate circumstances when he was very young. Two of his siblings were adopted into different families, one sent to the county home, and the four remaining including my father tried to make it on their own. Of the four remaining the oldest was 19 and the youngest age nine. I had finally found some of the children of the brother who was sent to the county home. It was with his daughter Susan my first cousin that family ties were reestablished and much information learned. Susan was to tell me a story about an incident that occurred when she was about fourteen years of age. At that time her family was working very hard to establish a farm in Potter County, Pennsylvania near the town of Shinglehouse. A woman with a young pregnant daughter came to visit. The woman turned out to be Susan’s father’s sister who she had never met. In fact, the sister was one of the siblings that had been adopted and had moved with her new family out of Pennsylvania several states away. In fact, it would be several years after hearing this story that I would finally learn what happened to her after the adoption. The young woman was left in the care of Susan’s family until she had the baby. After the birth of the baby, the mother came back at once and took her daughter home. Susan who thought that her family was going to keep and raise the baby never saw her aunt or her cousin again. She had no idea what had happened to the baby.

In March of this year, I received an email from Kelly asking for information as we have a close match in our DNA. We soon started talking over the phone. This was when I found out Kelly was adopted and was trying to find her biological family. I found out she was living in Potter County where she was born. She had been told that her mother had come from out of state for her birth. This was all Kelly knew about her birth and mother. Of course, Susan’s story came to mind, but I was in a quandary about what to do. Since hearing the story from Susan, I had tracked down the woman who could well have been the young pregnant woman in this story. We had exchanged letters and several phone calls regarding family history, and she was to give much information that filled many missing pieces of the family story. The baby being born in Potter County was never mentioned. Also while a long shot a couple of other possibilities could have been a viable explanation. I did give Kelly the name of a person who I have worked with on the Moore family history for years that had all the information I had. Then I thought and stewed about Kelly and her search for a couple of months until I could not stand it any longer. I contacted her again fully prepared to tell her where she should look. However, she had most of the answers already. She had reached the person I had recommended and with detective skills that would rival Sherlock Holmes she had put together most of the pieces. All I had to do was to fill in the Moore family history for her and introduce her to Susan. However, before I could introduce them, she found Susan herself. I told you she was good. Kelly informed me that Pennsylvania was releasing the birth certificates of adopted people who were of age on November 3, of 2017, and she had already sent in her request to the state.

Kelly was at last able to see her birth certificate which helped solve the mystery.


The above birth certificate proved that her mother was who we thought. The father was a bit of a surprise as the man was neither of the mother’s two husbands. However, Kelly had already through DNA testing had found the Green family and now the birth certificate confirmed the father. Kelly was able to find her biological family due to hard work on her part and DNA testing. Also what helped was years of family research that helped to make sense of the information on the birth certificate and gave direction to the DNA findings.

This summer my wife and I traveled to Potter County and met and visited with Kelly and Susan. We had a wonderful time and will be going again next year. It is a satisfying and pleasant feeling to meet family and to form bonds that you would never have without the research and effort that had to be done just to discover your family’s story. Just to be on the sideline to see the joy that Kelly and her family have experienced is very satisfying. It has also given me even more of a reason to keep researching and writing the family’s story.

Left to right. Susan Moore Lewis, myself Charles Moore, and Kelly Hunter. Picture is taken at the entrance to the driveway to the long abandon farm where Susan grew up and where Kelly’s mother stayed when she was pregnant with Kelly. At long last Susan was to learn what happen to the little baby that was born in 1962.


It has not all turned out well. Kelly’s biological mother who is alive has refused to acknowledge her or even speak with her. Also, her brothers and sisters from her mother’s two marriages have not been willing to accept her. This is the reason many names and locations have been left out of this blog. However, her siblings from the Green family have embraced her and welcomed her to their family. Regrettably, her biological father has died. His children do not believe he ever knew of Kelly’s existence. I tend to agree due to the clandestine nature of her birth. Of which some facts had to be left out so living people could not be readily identified. This month one of Kelly’s newly found siblings drove over 600 miles to visit with her. They spent several days visiting and she was caught up in her Green family history. But even better she has found new family members to love and be loved by.

Kelly with her newly found Brother, Christopher Green, who came to visit this month.



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40 Responses to The Christmas Gift Under The Tree That Grew Into A Family Tree

  1. Amy says:

    Amazing story, Charles, and heartbreaking in some ways. It’s incredible what DNA and persistence and skill can uncover. I hope Kelly is at peace even if her mother’s side has been oddly cold to her.

  2. chmjr2 says:

    Kelly is a very strong person and has found much to be thankful for and has not let her mother’s reaction slow her down. She is finding new siblings and cousins who have been more than happy to meet her. I count myself lucky to have her for a cousin.

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    Paragraph by paragraph, line by line, word by word, your amazing story kept me spell-bound. Your post is truly a great Christmas story, which you and many others will cherish for the rest of their lives. Merry Christmas!

  4. KerryCan says:

    Wow, Charlie–what a story! Full of twists and turns and coincidences. I’m really happy for Kelly and for you! I know how much this research means to you and this is such a huge payoff! Happy holidays to you all!

  5. I too am an adoptee who found with out DNA but solved a brothers adoption story through DNA. DNA tests, the miracle with in the adoption triad. You hear so much about success and hugs but very little about the heartbreak of rejection and connections not made. Thank you for sharing this story and the reality that is way to common and not always told…not wanting to be found. I am so thrilled for Kelly and her brother Christopher….what a blessing!

  6. andkindred says:

    What a great story! Though I have not found an example in my own tree, I am aware that many young, single women were sent away to have their babies to avoid being shamed by their own, often tight-knit and pious community leaders. Based on the few examples that I have been involved in or seen on TV, for example, ITV’s “Long Lost Family”, and BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”, rejection by new found kin is, thankfully, rare. I dare say that over Christmas dinners the world over folk will ask: “I wonder what happened to [insert name here]?”

    • chmjr2 says:

      I am happy you liked the blog post. The true reasons that this happen will never really be known. I have my own thought on this but will not go into them as it is guess work at best.

  7. pransmom says:

    I have known Kelly since we were in HS, she was a grade or 2 behind me. I am so happy she found and has been embraced by much of her family. Such an awesome Christmas story! (Becky Bliss Nolan)

  8. dlpedit says:

    This was an interesting and intriguing story, Charles, and especially so coming as it does around Christmas. It must make you feel good to know that you’ve not only connected with a family member but also played a part in helping a family member find long-lost relatives. Thanks for sharing the account. I’ve often debated about having the DNA test done, but I haven’t bitten the bullet as yet. I don’t think that I have any missing gaps in my tree, such as you related in your account, so I haven’t felt compelled enough to do so yet. Perhaps one day. . . .

    • chmjr2 says:

      I am glad you liked the story. They’re many reasons to take the DNA plunge. Curiosity perhaps being a big one. You could find a surprise or two about your DNA make up. I found 2 to 3 percent Native American in mine. I can only guess where it came from. Also with DNA I have made some progress in my family research. Of course the story above makes it worth while also. In any case it is up to each of us if it is worth it or not. Have a very Merry Christmas.

  9. Marie Rogers says:

    What a great story, heartwarming as well. Genealogy can be so fascinating. I’ve made connection with a few distant relatives recently, but so far nothing as surprising as this.

  10. Christopher L Green says:

    Our story is a blessing, I never in my wildest dreams could of thought I would be part of someone’s else’s journey. From the minute we received the text message from Kelly saying she was doing ancestery reseach and was part of the Green Family and was adoped at birth. She said that her DNA Grandparents were George and Gladys Green, well if that don’t grab you nothing will. Kelly told my wife Josette that she thought I was her sister. Now that’s a thinking moment let me tell you. The very next morning Kelly gets her unsealed birth record in the mail listing my dad as her father. My Dad, George W Green Sr in all his life never mentioned him fathering another child. Kelly asked if I would do a DNA test to help out. Absolutely was the answer. With me loosing my mom Audrey D Green and dad within the last few years I try to do their will through my daily life. They both taught me the meaning of the journey since Josette and myself were close caregivers till their end of days. With vacation planned and no place to go, off to Potter County Pennsylvania we went with unopened DNA test in hand. We were greeted with love unmatched any where, Bill and his beautiful wife My big sister Kelly were awsome hosts. Over Coffee the next am we did the Saliva test and mailed it out…. which came back a few weeks later with a confirmation of brother and sister. I’m still smiling today….. I don’t know why we call it closure when it’s just an opener… I just wished this could of been sooner.

  11. Wow! What an amazing story! It is wonderful to see families re-united, and sad when they turn away.

  12. shawn green says:

    not sure really what to say, since all this came about i am so exited! to meet my newly found sister!

  13. The most amazing thing about your post was the comments. The Green family is the family we wish all adoptees will find. Thanks for sharing, Charles.

  14. For those relationships that acknowledge and accept Kelly, may she have a beautiful experience one step at a time.

    • chmjr2 says:

      A very nice and wise comment.

      • Oh, Thank You! I have connected and reconnected with many dear cousins who are now y besties forever. It takes patience but all good things come to those who wait with joyful anticipation. Kelly will have those in her life that will bring her that completeness as she takes the time needed. The entire process is an ongoing journey. This was a great posting coming at the right time–Christmas and New year. Merry Christmas to you and Kelly.

  15. chattykerry says:

    That is a wonderful tale. My husband longs to reconnect with other adopted siblings to no avail right now.

  16. Alice (Green) Hansen says:

    Welcome to the family

  17. willedare says:

    What a tremendous story! I found your blog via a comment you left on “the yarn-whisperers” blog. I (along with many others) have been savoring Henry Louis Gate’s program on TV in which he helps people learn more about their family’s ancestry. Do you have an opinion about the difference between using or 23&Me if one is curious to learn more about one’s biological heritage? Does Ancestry/com have a wider base of users (which might lead to more possible connections with unknown cousins, for example?) THANK YOU for sharing this story with all of us.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thank you for your comment. I am no expert on who to use for DNA testing. I use Ancestry and it has given me more people connections than I can handle. That being said it is up to each person on what service to use. My one opinion is that doing genealogy without using DNA is like not using the census.

  18. Sheryl says:

    This story is so heartwarming (and a little sad). It’s wonderful that Kelly has been able to reconnect with many family members.

  19. agwilderman says:

    DNA can be a mixed bag. Great story.

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