Family Tree DNA Test the Catalyst for a Surprise Adoption Reunion

Kirk Kellerhals was taken to an orphanage as a toddler without his mother's consent. She spent the next 48 years looking for him.

Ashley Foster January 05, 2018
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Kirk Kellerhals spent Christmas with his newly found birth family. It was a great experience all around. He found them by accident while DNA testing for ethnicity. His birth mom, Nga Nibblett, was elated to spend the holidays with him. “I get depressed every Christmas. This Christmas is the first out of 48 years I don’t feel depressed,” she said.

Early this year Kirk took a Family Tree DNA test to settle a bet with his wife. He knew he was half Vietnamese but was unsure about the other half. He and his wife had gone back and forth a bit on the issue. Kirk thought the other half was Hawaiian. His wife, who was Filipino, claimed his other half was Filipino. In a 1 in 2 billion chance, he matched immediately with his birth mother. He received the notification email while he was at his son’s graduation. At first glance he thought it was probably a scam. He had assumed his parents had passed away many years ago. He looked over the message again later at home. “It suddenly dawned on me. This is probably my mother. There is no way. This is impossible. She’s dead,” he said.

Kellerhals was born in Vietnam at the end of the war. He was adopted from an orphanage there when he was two. When he was 7 months old, Nga’s parents took him to an orphanage without his mother’s consent. She quickly went and got him back. Several months later she went to work, and when she came home the child was gone. She never gave up on her search for him. She moved to America and actively continued the search. At first she searched phone books for the name she had given to him at birth. Then years later she scoured the internet. Finally she turned to DNA testing. She helped him locate his birth father. The three met together back in August.

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Ashley Foster

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and mother of two currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees' rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life. You can read her blog at

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