Accountant trainer David Zapata had always been curious about his biological parents and started the search to find them at the age of 23.
First he visited Vietnam to try to find his mother - but had no luck. Determined to carry on he later took a DNA test through an online website to try and find his father. From the results, he had found some cousins, one of whom, Eleanor, is a passionate genealogist who volunteered to help him with his search.
Mr Zapata said: “I really wanted to confront the imaginary father that I’ve had lost somewhere between my childhood and reality. The confrontation was better than what I’d hoped for.”
The cousins managed to find other relatives but not the father so in 2012 they contacted another professional genealogist, who within few months of research had found a matching DNA: David’s cousin Gary, the son of his father’s sister. And it is by matching with Gary that he finally found his father, at the age of 48.
He contacted his father through social media but, shocked at the news, he did not believe him at first. David then matched with his half sister, which proved to his father, Kelly Dowden, that it was true.
The man was serving in Vietnam during the war, which is where he had met David’s mother. The GI had to leave but never knew that she was pregnant. The mother later gave birth to David who got adopted around two years later by a French couple, Suzanne and Michel.
On march 7th, David arrived to Ohio, where his father and half sisters, Dreama and Dodie welcomed him. “The moment was not as overwhelming, but our eyes said it all”, he said.
During his stay, he met his half brother, Kelly Jr, and learned that his biological mother’s name was either ‘Nanay’ or ‘Mynai’, as his father Kelly Sr said. David’s eldest son Normann, who lives in Montreal, joined him to meet his grandfather and his family, too.
“I am so happy to have found my biological roots. But, my real parents will always be Suzanne and Michel, the parents who took care of me all my life, and this will never change”, he said.
David is going to Columbus again this summer with his girlfriend, Stephanie, to celebrate Kelly Sr’s 70th birthday.