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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mother and Son Reunited After 33 Years Thanks to DNA Analysis

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When Melanie Pressley of Wadsworth, Ohio, got a DNA test from her daughter Rachel as a birthday/Mother’s Day present, Rachel emphasized the test’s benefit of health information.

“I lost a mother to lung cancer — who had never smoked or drank a day in her life,” Pressley told Fox News. “So, she was selling that to me, saying, ‘Oh my gosh. Then you’ll see if you have any of those genes or if there are any flags.'”

And sure, that was a great reason to utilize the 23andMe service, but deep down, Rachel had another, bigger, reason.

When Pressley was 18 years old and living in Canton, Ohio, she’d had a son named Greg. He was born on June 17, 1988, but after realizing she was on her own and unable to care for him the way she wanted, she decided to release him for adoption.

The adoption was closed, and all Pressley had to hold onto was a photo of her newborn son and the memories of the short time they’d spent together before he was whisked away to his new family.

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Since then, Pressley has always wondered how her firstborn was. Who did he become? What was he like?

“You go through a mourning period and yet live the rest of your life mourning,” Pressley said. “His adoptive mother had written me a letter a couple of months after he was born. And she had said that when he is old enough, she will tell him [that he was adopted].”

Greg Vossler, 33, of Winchester, Virginia, knew he’d been adopted. He, too, wondered who his biological mother was and what she was like.

He, too, took the 23andMe test when he had his own kids, thinking of health concerns and not having access to any sort of family medical history.

But he’d taken the test in 2018, and when he scanned the list of possible relatives at the time, they were distant matches.

“Everything checked out, but in the back of my mind, [23andMe] always suggests new DNA relatives,” Vossler said.

“I was like, ‘You never know. Maybe one of these lesser connections will lead to something significant.’”

And when Pressley took the test, that’s exactly what happened. Seeing a strong match on her profile, she reached out to the match through the messaging function.

She asked how old he was, and after receiving an answer that lined up with the son she’d given up all those years ago, she told Vossler she thought she was his biological mother.

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In June, they finally got to meet at Pressley’s home in Wadsworth, Ohio. Vossler got to meet his half-siblings and Pressley got to meet her grandchildren.

While not all reunions go well, with some people preferring to forget their pasts, this one was beautiful, cathartic and just what mother and son needed.

“After finding him, I felt like my heart was just whole again,” Pressley said. “Becoming older, you kind of become a little wiser, but there is no shame in giving somebody up for adoption. There are loving couples out there that cannot have children that would love to raise a child.”

“I’m telling you, if you could meet Greg, he was given a life beyond my belief. He was raised with manners. He was raised how you would dream. It’s just unbelievable.”

“Life has a funny way of giving you what you need and not necessarily what you want,” Vossler said. “Sometimes those wants and needs do match up, but sometimes you don’t realize what you actually need until the future. Melanie’s family coming into my life at this point, has been a blessing. It’s kind of re-ignited some passions and excitement.

“It’s just a blessing beyond blessings. It really is. If I could share one piece of advice, it would be: Don’t be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking