Spokane woman’s Ancestry test leads to shocking family secret
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — When a Spokane Valley women sent off her DNA sample to Ancestry.com, she was only looking for information about her ethnic background. She never expected to find the father she knew nothing about; and finding him was the beginning of the shock of her life.
Tracy Melton grew up in Los Angeles and never knew anything about her biological father. At one point, she was led to believe he was dead. With dark skin, hair and eyes, she knew she was different than her blue-eyed, blonde sisters. And, as her kids got older, she was hoping to find more about what was hidden in her DNA.
“[For] health reasons, I was wanting to know,” she explained.
So, her boyfriend gave her an Ancestry.com kit for Christmas and she sent it off, never expecting her life was about to change forever.
“We opened the email and we did the breakdown and it was really cool,” Melton said. “39 percent Great Britain, 17 percent Western European and 27 percent Native American.”
Then, at the bottom of the email, a link to 673 relatives.
Among those relatives, one sent her into shock.
“It said ‘Reynaldo Delgado’ – this is your parent or child,” Melton remembered with a tear in her eye.
There it was – there he was. She finally had a name for the man who, for her entire life, had been a mystery.
When Melton was born in Los Angeles 35 years ago, Delgado was an L.A. firefighter. She finally had a name and a real person to solve part of the mystery of her life. That’s easily where this story could end, but the surprise was still to come when she finally got a hold of her father.
“She said ‘hello, I think you’re my father,” Delgado said, choking back tears. “I asked her where do you live and she said ‘Spokane.’ I thought was a joke.”
That’s because three years ago, after decades in Los Angeles, Delgado and his wife were ready for a change. Delgado was ready to retire from the fire department; he and his wife Camie wanted four seasons and a different quality of life.
Despite having no connections, they came north: to Spokane.
“As it turns out, she lives 12 miles from me,” Delgado said. “And, I never knew she existed.”
One day after that phone call, father and daughter were ready to meet. Thirty-five years had been long enough.
“She walked in and she stuck her hand out to me. And, I looked at her and I started to [shake her hand],” Delgado recalled. “Then, I said ‘you don’t shake hands with your daughter! So, we hugged. It was very emotional.”
“From the moment we met, it was very comfortable,” Melton recalled. “It felt very natural. It’s very hard to explain. I never knew something was missing.”
Now, they’re making up for lost time. They talk or text every day and have dinners together, Delgado and his wife and Melton and her kids. Delgado has even met the man who raised Melton from the time she was born.
Spend any time with Melton and Delgado and you can see the intense bond that has formed in just the three months since they first met. They share identical dimples and a strong chin and the bond goes even further than that.
“We talk about things like what’s our favorite ice cream and we both love vanilla bean,” Delgado said with a smile. “We both love corned beef hash!”
And, they both realize the miracle of all of this. What if they hadn’t done the DNA test? What if they had used different companies and ended up in different databases? They could have gone their lives without knowing. They could have stayed strangers, despite sharing the same air every day.
“We probably passed each other at the mall,” Delgado said. “We probably passed each other at the grocery store and didn’t even know it!”
Instead, they have an instant connection and an unbreakable bond.
Two strangers, once separated for decades, now family – forever.
“It still sometimes feels very unreal,” Melton said. “I cry almost every morning in the shower – with excitement and joy. I know a lot of people don’t get this kind of outcome.”
“It’s just an amazing ride and I never want to get off,” Delgado said.
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