Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Sterling Roberts
Observer Staff Writer 

Woman Finally Finds Her Father Because of Genetic Testing

When asked what she feels now, Tousley said that she never knew she was incomplete until she found her father; now she's whole.

 

Diane Tousley points to a few of her father's family photos

When sending a sample of your DNA to a database to find your genetic ancestry, you expect to maybe find a surprise in that ancestry. But, what you don't expect to find is a new family.

Just last year, Diane Tousley found her genetic father through ancestry.com. He had been a user since 2012 and she had joined in 2017, but she became aware that she had a genetic match in 2018.

Born in Vietnam in 1968, Tousley came to the US with her mother in 1975. At 6 1/2 years old, Tousley got on a cargo plane and moved from Guam to Hawaii to a refugee camp in San Diego. Regardless of these moves, Tousley says she had a fairly ordinary upbringing as she grew up in Santa Monica.

For Tousley, she had never known her genetic father but had always been curious. Growing up, she had heard a story from her mother saying that he was dead, since he had been in the Vietnam War, and out of curiosity, Tousley decided to check out a book from the library which listed all the soldiers who had died in the war. Her father was not listed. Tousley's mom had to then admit that she didn't know whether he was dead or not.

Since Tousley wanted to know her paternal DNA heritage, in particular to see if there was any Native American ancestry as she thought she had physical characteristics of such, she got her genetic testing done. In 2018, she had gotten a notification saying "-- is your father". The reaction from her family was both excited and worried, as Tousley's brothers and wife were a bit nervous as to what to expect.

Tousley didn't know how to get in touch with him but she has a distant family member with strong family history resources that she contacted. She finally found his phone number after quite a few misses. Her father's wife of 40 years picked up the phone as he was out of the house, so Tousley explained the situation to her. 45 minutes later Tousley received a phone call from her father.

Tousley and her wife, Amber discuss her experiences finding her father late in life.

Her parents had met in Vietnam during the war as her father was deployed there. Her father worked in communications and her mother assisted in a coupons for cash program for the GIs so they were both stationed at the same location. One night, Tousley's mother was bored and picked up one of the station's telephones and he was the person on the other end. They started courting for a few months when he was 23 and she was 17, but that ended when he was deployed.

Tousley's father, who Tousley and her mother used to call KenKen because her mother swore his first and last name had Ken in them, actually goes by Pete. He lives in Alabama with his wife and their children. Tousley was welcomed by his family and they all have a great relationship.

For Tousley, her genetic ancestry test was like winning the jackpot. They are currently establishing paternity in the courts and she is getting a new birth certificate to have him on it. Her mother says this event was a miracle.

When asked what she feels now, Tousley said that she never knew she was incomplete until she found her father; now she's whole.

 

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