Bio Dad: A Teenager Discovers Her Extended Family
This week on Dayton Youth Radio, we have the first story from a new class of producers from Centerville High School. Senior Lizzy Sparks tells us about an extraordinary meeting with someone very special over pizza.
My name is Lizzie Sparks. I'm an aspiring author. I write stories; I like to create things. I’m a Gemini, and my father was a sperm donor.
My story is about finding my family and finding the truth out about who I am and where I came from and meeting my brother for the first time in person.
Last Christmas, I ordered an Ancestry DNA test. I wanted to find out more about my heritage because I knew nothing about my dad's side and very little about my mom's. Her name was Tammy Sparks, and she passed away when I was 15.
For about $100, I ordered my kit online off of their website. It was pricey, but it seemed worth it to me. It was the middle of December when my package came in the mailbox. I'd been tracking it on my phone so I knew it was there.
The box was so much smaller than I thought it would be. It was about the size of a paperback book and completely white. I brought it inside and up to my grandparents room. I live with them, they're my legal guardians. Everyone tells them Mima and Poppy.
So I spat into the tube until, my mouth was dry. Then my grandpa and I drove it to the post office and mailed it out to the folks at Ancestry DNA. The wait was nerve-racking.
And then I got a text message when I was at school. It said, "Nreat news, Lizzu, your Ancestry DNA results are in."
The site also gives you a way to reach out to your DNA matches and message them so that you can connect with them. So I clicked on the link and I started typing, "Hi, my name's Lizzy, and I think we might be related. Want to chat?"
I got the first response from a woman named Heather. She told me everything and I mean everything. We figured out that one of her uncles who had passed away a couple of years ago was my biological father. Finding out that my biological father was dead didn't spark any kind of emotional reaction in me. I never knew him. I had no memories of him at this point. I had never seen a picture of him.
And then on a Friday that I remember so, so clearly, my half sister messaged me on Instagram. She was raised by our father. We started talking, and I got in contact with my half brother Hunter through her.
Meeting up with my long lost half brother for the very first time was exactly as awkward as it sounds. He came over to my house and we had pizza. I didn't know what to say to him so I began by asking him about his hobbies and musical taste.
"I do enjoy watching movies. I feel like that's a great way to pass time," he said. "Largely I’m big into hip hop and rap. But two pop artists that I really, really, really like are Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift."
Hunter is a college freshman at the University of Michigan, which I absolutely hate, because even though he's younger than me, he's an entire grade ahead of me. I asked him how he feels about having other siblings.
"It was really surprising and interesting to me. I feel like that's kind of a cool thing to have siblings that I didn't previously know about," he said. "My first impression [of you] was year shorter than I expected, honestly. And then like just talking to you today, it seems like you really like genuine and things like that."
"So how did you feel and the time when we decided to meet up?" I asked.
"I was like a little bit nervous just because I didn't really know what to expect. But overall, I was just kind of excited to get the chance," he said.
I am beyond glad that I got to meet him because of this program and thatI was able to share my story. I was able to actually meet my brother in person, and I was able to hear his voice and give him a hug for the very first time.
Lizzy Sparks is a student at Centerville High School. Special Thanks to Tricia Rapoch, teacher for the Communication Arts Program at Centerville High School. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.centerville.k12.oh.us/CHS. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.