This was the moment a daughter met her biological dad for the first time after a decade of searching for him. And instead of a formal handshake or awkward first-time introductions, she embraced him with a hug.
Few of us can relate to the experience of not knowing your biological parents can have a serious effect on who you are as a person. Thankfully for 31-year-old Michelle Cehn, who had to grow up not knowing who her birth parents were, she had a blissful childhood after being adopted and raised by Joan and Joel Cehn.
But she had always dreamed of meeting her biological parents. She fulfilled that dream after she tracked down her biological father via Facebook in a search that started nearly a decade ago.
Prior to meeting Michelle, her birth father had no idea she even existed. The content creator who was raised in Oakland, California, by Joan, a speech pathologist, and Joel, a nuclear physicist, had began the hunt for her family when she was able to track her birth mother Diane, aged 54, after coming across a family obituary in 2009.
Diane explained to Michelle she had no idea who her real father was, adding the reason she gave her up for adoption was because she could not support a newborn at the age of 23.
Michelle focused on getting to know Diane and even invited her to her wedding in 2015 when she got married to husband Dan Miller. She also pursued the search for her father, submitting her DNA to family tree websites, which only fielded matches with distant cousins.
But in April this year, she finally located a first cousin on her birth father’s side. Using Facebook, she tracked down Greg Hicks, 57, a business development professional who she believed to be her biological father.
Greg, of Laguna Hills, California, believed he was being scammed but became curious when he discovered he had three mutual Facebook friends with Michelle’s birth mum.
He connected the dots and discovered that he and Diane were working for a company that had held a promotional event during the 1986 Super Bowl in Philadelphia.
A day after receiving Michelle’s message, Greg, who has a son Austin Hicks, 23, decided to call the woman who claimed to be his daughter.
After connecting the dots, Greg confirmed Michelle was his daughter through a paternity test and the pair met at Orange County Airport in California.
It was a beautiful experience.
Michelle, who runs the website World of Vegan, said:
It was so crazy to see him running towards me.
He was so excited and jumped up onto a concrete block and I immediately thought that it was something I would have done.
He brought me into a big bear hug and it was so, so cool.
I spent the whole weekend meeting family members and it was so, so special.
I instantly felt at home.
Meeting Michelle has enhanced my spirit.
Both Michelle and Austin are really excited to have a blood sibling, which is one of the best things to come out of this.
Michelle and her husband Dan even came to his graduation last month.
Michelle says she felt fortunate to have grown up with such loving parents in Joan and Joel, but she always felt there was a part of her identity she knew nothing about.
Meeting Diane in 2009 was ‘amazing’ but not knowing her dad meant a piece of the puzzle was still missing.
Since meeting Greg she also discovered she had a brother which she found ‘cool’, adding ‘I had wished for siblings my whole life’.
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