Ranell Garner was raised by her single mother until she was two years old. At that time, in June of 1984, her mother was murdered. Her grandparents took her in and raised her. Aside from the love of her grandparents, she grew up lonely with no siblings and no idea who her father was. For Garner’s birthday in January, her friend’s pitched in together and bought her an Ancestry DNA test. She was very excited at the prospect of finding new members of her family.

Ranell patiently waited for the test to process, and she was happy when she received the results. She initially had a first cousin match in Virginia. “At first she didn’t message me back but I was like look here’s the deal, I don’t know who he is and you’re my first cousin. That means one of your uncles is my dad,” she explained. “I gave her some specifics about my birth mom being in the Navy and what years and she was like ‘It’s my uncle John.’” Upon further investigation, Garner learned she was not an only child. She will meet her newfound family in December.

Many adoptees are utilizing DNA tests to find their birth families. The companies with the largest databases are Ancestry and 23andMe. You can order a DNA kit online and have it shipped directly to your home. Depending on which company you ordered your test from you may submit a saliva sample or cheek swab. Once your test has been received at the lab it usually takes about 6-8 weeks to process. Once you get your results in you will have a list of matches. Rarely you will get an immediate family match, but often you will have cousin matches you need to work through to find closer relatives.