I’m from New York, a closed adoption state. One day when I was 9, my adoptive mother and I were out in the garden. She stopped what she was doing and told me that she was not my real mother. Needless to say, the adrenaline tidal-waved and my entire world was rocked from that moment on. Oddly, it made sense to me, though, (and I preceded to tell her just that!) because the family and I had never gotten close and things were strained at best.
As I grew older, I learned everything that I could about reunion registries and searches, and was always drawn to television shows and articles about adoption. I registered for everything I could get my hands on. The loneliness was crushing; I aways felt like a speck in space, never tethered to anyone or anything. I tended to attach to places and things, rather than people, because it was “safer”. I bless the friends that showed me compassion as an angst-ridden teenager in this situation. Even though I eventually married my best friend and still enjoy a truly wonderful relationship with him, I was very empty in places, still searching for “my people”. I just wanted to belong to a tribe – to have people that I looked like, sounded like or shared talents and mannerisms with.
Somewhat recently, I emailed the Long Lost Family television show with my story. They contacted me back and I went through the vetting process with the producers; they wanted to do my story! They assured me that if anyone could find them it was their genealogists. I waited anxiously for 5 months, checking in with their team every once in a while. Finally, they advised me that they couldn’t help me- they weren’t sure that they would be picked up for the next season, so my case was dropped. It was a crushing blow.
Around this time, a distant DNA relative (5th or 6th cousin) contacted me via a genealogy search site. He asked if I had any information about my Cuban ancestry, and I told him that I was an adoptee from the State of New York, and that the records were closed, so I had nothing. Being the kindly person that he is, he kept in contact with me and would check in every now and then. He mentioned that there was a lineage study being done for his Cuban family, and that genealogists were involved. He asked if I might consider working with one of them to see if they could assist me in the search for my birth family. The offer was very kind, but after more than 40 years of searching and the recent disappointment from the show, I politely declined.
Bless my distant cousin, though- because he is a very persistent, compassionate individual. He kept very gently prodding, asking if I might consider working with this genealogist. He wore me down with his kindness, and I agreed to work with one of them. Enter Ashley Gonzalez.
Working with Ashley has been a truly AMAZING and LIFE-CHANGING experience! Immediately, there was no doubt in my mind that she knew what she was doing and that she was extremely adept at investigation. (I perform technical investigations for a living, but this woman is an investigative animal!) The data that she obtained from a myriad of sources was remarkable! Not only that, though, the way that Ashley triangulates and extrapolates through the tangled mess of data is truly extraordinary! She is a certified genealogical geek, and you can tell that she loves what she does!
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of person I want on my team- the one who LOVES what they do for a living, so it’s just plain fun for them! Ashley was highly available via text, FB messaging and email and always responded back to any questions that I had as quickly as she could. What a learning experience! She has a mind like a very pleasant, sensitive and professional steel trap. LOL
One of the things that I appreciated the most about working with Ashley was her manner when she realized that we’d discovered my birth father’s side of the family. She carefully walked me through experiences that other clients of hers had had, to ensure that I was fully informed before I decided what action to take. The thought of reaching out cold to strangers with DNA evidence and an investigative trail was completely terrifying! Ashley measuredly gave me the information about what other clients experienced, and helped guide me toward a thorough thought process. In my case, I decided that it had been long enough, and we bungy jumped! This experience is not for the faint of heart- be sure you’re ready to make bold decisions when you hire Ashley, because she gets the job done!! My father chose not to respond, but his brother & sister, my aunt and uncle, did! My husband and I have now seen my aunt and her daughter, my cousin, twice (we’re across the country from each other) and met the rest of their family. We were joyously welcomed into the family with open arms, even though I was a complete surprise to them! We plan to meet my uncle, her brother, who lives in the other corner of the country, this fall. I have a FAMILY!!
But we weren’t finished with my father’s side- we still did not know who my mom was- that is until 2 weekends ago, when one morning, Ashley was following up on two newer DNA leads and we went from “0 to 900mph” in one day! Ashley positively identified my birth mother! I decided to make the bungy jump again and I found her phone number on Been Verified. I called and left her a voicemail, keeping the message somewhat generic, asking her to call me back. Three hours later, a phone call came from that area code.
Here’s how it went:
Caller: “Hello, this is J.”
Me: “Oh hi, J, thank you so much for calling me back! I wanted to ask you a question. Does the date XX/XX/XXXX mean anything to you or anyone in your family?”
Caller: “Why yes- yes it does. That was the day that I gave birth to a baby girl and put her up for adoption!”
Me (crying): “MOM?!!!!”
Caller: “YES!!” (Much more crying on both sides of the line ensues)
So now, as a result of my cousin’s great compassion and Ashley Gonzalez’s tireless, expert efforts, the greatest dream of my life has come true!! I have a blossoming relationship with not only my birth mother (AND I found out that I have a 1/2 brother!!), but I also have an aunt, uncle and cousins who have welcomed me into the family as well!! I HAVE “REAL” FAMILY!!!
The sound track for this epic story in my life is resounding in my head like something from the Indiana Jones movies, as I am now starting the next stage of my life with MY FAMILY!!! I finally know where I came from!! And this was all made possible by Ashley Gonzalez, otherwise known as an angel with specks and a magnifying glass and some serious smarts! Use this woman’s skills to help your own dreams come true! The truth can be startling, like wth my birth father not wanting contact with me, but I will never regret the journey that this professional, incredibly skilled and compassionate woman has guided me on. You won’t either!