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Michigan woman discovers sister through DNA test

Posted at 5:15 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 17:16:25-04

In 2018, Melanie McCormick took a 23 and Me test that was gifted to her by her adopted parents.

Test results will show the user’s heritage and connect them with relatives who share the same DNA.

McCormick was adopted from South Korea in 1992 as a newborn. Growing up, she was welcomed into her new family by her adopted parents Thom and Lynette, as well as her two older brothers Chad and Michael.

Not knowing too much about her Korean background, McCormick’s parents gifted her a 23 and Me test two years ago.

Curious about her DNA, she took the test.

Fast forward a year, Madie Gustafson wanted to know more about her Korean heritage. She was adopted in the 1980′s from South Korea as a newborn and was brought to Washington state to live with her new family.

She also grew up with two older brothers and a pair of supportive parents.

Taking the test in 2019, Gustafson was connected with distant relatives. She said she thought it was cool to see who she was related to.

It wasn’t until a few days later that Gastafson was messaged through 23 and Me from McCormick.

McCormick notified Gastafson that they were half sisters and shared the same birth mother.

“I thought the chances of me finding anybody, a birth mom, a birth dad, siblings are probably going to be in South Korea obviously and why would they be on 23 and Me?,” said Gastafson.

The unlikely happened and the two sisters were connected through a DNA testing site.

“I’m just so glad I ended up taking that test and taking the same 23 and Me as you [Gastafson] because there is so much other genetic testing that you can do. I just feel so grateful that we chose the same one and we were able to connect and connect at this point in our lives,” said McCormick.

Both McCormick and Gastafson said finding out they were related was an out-of-body experience.

“I just sobbed like a baby and had a really out-of-body experience with that. We didn’t have to go through a language or cultural barrier. We had almost very similar experiences to each other and that felt comforting,” said Gastafson.

Although they have two brothers and supportive parents, the sisters always felt like they were missing someone.

McCormick, who is the younger sister, said she always wanted to have an older sister and oldly enough Gastafson said she always wanted a younger sister.

“My mom could tell you, ‘you always wanted a little sister.’ And I think I said something like ’ we could just go to the airport and get another one,” said Gastafson.

Although they didn’t grow up together, they said they are thankful to be meeting each other now as adults, but the timing isn’t perfect.

McCormick had plans to meet Gastafson and her family this summer, but it had to be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My parents, my partner Tristin and I were planning on coming out this June or July to meet you [Gastafson] and your family and then it went all down hill in March. So we were like ‘well we’ll just have to postpone.’ But recently Madie’s family and my family were able to do a Zoom call all together, so that was a very special and a very cool moment,” said McCormick.

While the pair wait for the pandemic to be over to meet, they will be catching up through Zoom.

“Especially right since we haven’t meet face-to-face, it’s been really nice that we have Zoom. We’re trying to make it work and as best as we can until we can come together one day soon,” said McCormick.

While it’s been great for the two sisters to meet and discover more about each other, the emotions about their birth mother have returned. Gastafson explains she was able to find peace with her mother’s decision to put her up for adoption, but after finding her sister those emotions all came rushing back for her.

Gastafson and McCormick said they would be open if their birth mother reached out. However, they both said they won’t be going through the process to reach out to her.