Petersburg resident Sara Hadad-Dembs recently received the gift of a lifetime when she found her biological brother through a 23andMe kit.
Growing up in Colorado, she knew she was different than the rest of her family, she said in a recent phone interview. As the only adopted child in a family of biological siblings, she could see the differences between herself and her brothers.
“My brother used to tell me that my energy was off,” she said. “I was like a little alien living in their house. I’m wired differently.”
After starting her own family, she began the process of finding her biological family, locating her biological sisters and birth father in 2010. Over the years, she has enjoyed a friendly relationship with them.
“We visited a few times but were more like Facebook friends,” she said. “It’s strange because these people resemble you, but you are still strangers. Even though you are genetically related, you are still strangers. ”
A few years later, her father shared that she and her biological sisters also had a biological brother. But without much more information to go on, they were unable to find him.
That all changed last winter.
In 2019, Hadad-Dembs’ adoptive brother bought her a 23andMe kit. As luck would have it, a year later, her birth brother received one as a birthday gift.
Last December, she received an email from 23andMe that new relatives had been identified.
A short time later, she received a Facebook message from a man in Illinois. The message read:
“Hi, I know this is super out of the blue, but I think I’m your brother.”
Hadad-Dembs quickly realized he was, in fact, her biological brother, and the two had matched on 23andMe.
The pair quickly connected and hit it off.
“When I sat down and talked to him, it was clear that he is so close to me,” she said. “We are the closest genetically related. For him, it was really strange. He’s never known anyone that looked like him before.”
According to Hadad-Dembs, their personalities and perspectives were very similar.
“We connected,” she said.
Last month she traveled to Chicago to meet her brother and connect him with their biological sisters. While together, they created a TikTok video that captured all the childhood photos they did not get a chance to take.
“Be aware there are so many dynamics when you do meet. It’s a rollercoaster. But, do it and find out,” she said. “I know more about me now. It’s good to know where you came from. It finishes the story.”
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-308-4891.