A 59-year-old New Jersey father discovered he had a long-lost daughter after taking an at-home DNA kit to learn more about his ancestry.
John Gonsalves got the shock of a lifetime when he received a letter from a 40-year-old woman who said her results on AncestryDNA.com showed he was her father.
“I was stunned,” he told WCBS-TV. “I literally felt the world stop. And the second thought was, ‘This is a scam. This is a scam. There's no way that I could have a child 40 years old.’”
But indeed he did.
Jeanie Siciliano was born in 1977, the product of Gonsalves’ high school relationship. She was 2 months old when she was adopted and when she was 19, she began searching for her biological parents and found her birth mother, but not her father.
“I did some searching … but I didn't come up with any solid information,” she told WCBS-TV. “So I kind of put that all to the side.”'
Years later and aided by advents in technology, Siciliano decided to once again search for more answers.
“My birth mother is Italian and Irish, and she’s very fair. And so I was curious where my, you know, physicality came from,” she said with a laugh. “I wanted to know what my heritage was.”
She sent away a DNA sample and it came back with a match.
“John's name came up and underneath, it said, ‘Father,’” she said. “And I was, like, ‘Holy cannoli; this guy is my biological father. Oh my gosh.’”
It also revealed she was related to a Robin Gonsalves, who her biological father confirmed was her half-sister who was 20 years younger.
“After I accepted the science of it — I did get really emotional,” Gonsalves said. “I said, ‘Wow. This is real.’ And then I started to cry. I felt joy. I was like, ‘This is such a great gift at a perfect time in my life and Robin's life.’”
Robin, who had gifted him the fated AncestryDNA kit for his birthday, said having someone like Jeanie to look up to feels like a blessing, especially after suffering the loss of her mother, who died a few years ago.
"I think that when I lost my mom, the thing that I was most concerned about was, like, 'How am I going to navigate my dating life, like, without my mom?’ I don't have too many women figures in my life but losing my mom was really hard,” she said, choking up. “So it's important to have women to look up to. So having someone like Jeanie, is really nice."
Such a responsibility was not lost on Siciliano, who embraced her sister during their first meeting as a family of three.
“Nobody can obviously replace your own mother but like maybe I can be there for her," Siciliano said. "I'm also, like, super immature, so she'll probably make better, more mature decisions than I will. I'll be calling her, like, 'Dude, there's this guy and I don't know what to do.'"