Woman finds long-lost siblings through online DNA kit
By JEAN FALBO-SOSNOVICH
Nov. 27, 2017
SEYMOUR, Conn. (AP) — A trio of Connecticut siblings had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
That's because Peter Sampiere and his sister Kim Sampiere found out earlier this year they have another sibling.
That long-lost sister they never knew about was the one who found them, through an online DNA kit.
It gets better.
All three siblings grew up in Seymour, right around the corner from each other.
The mystery that took more than 50 years to unravel began in 1962, when Kathryn Theresa Lesnick-Grabowski, born Terese Checkley, was given up for adoption at birth. Her adoptive parents, Donald and Kay Lesnick, told Grabowski when she was nine that she was adopted.
"As the years passed, my curiosity grew and grew. ... I was one of those people who needed to know where I came from," Grabowski said.
Grabowski, now 55, mom of four kids and four grandkids, said that last year as she watched her growing family, she noticed familiar features in her grandkids, which piqued her curiosity about where she came from.
"I cried every time one of the Ancestry.com commercials came on," she said. "My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said 'a DNA kit.'"
Such services can connect relatives through databases. Ancestry.com, for instance, announced in August that more than 5 million people had taken its AncestryDNA test, according to its website. Through its consumer DNA database, AncestryDNA offers customers connections "to new relatives, with more than 37 million third cousin or closer relative matches provided across the network," the site noted.
It took about six weeks for Grabowski to get the results.
She found a closest match turned out to be her birth mother's first cousin, and then she found a third cousin she connected with on Facebook, who helped Grabowski track down her birth mother: Sandra Checkley Sampiere from Ansonia.
When Grabowski googled the name, she was devastated. She pulled up an obituary from 2014 confirming her birth mother had died.
The obituary was accompanied by a "big, smiling picture" of kind, familiar eyes.
"It was her, I knew I was looking at my birth mother," said Grabowski. "That dimple, those eyes, those high cheeks and that unmistakable family pug nose."
Feeling crushed her birth mother was gone, Grabowski further read the obituary that listed "my whole family." She was thrilled to learn she had a brother, a sister and loads of aunts, uncles and cousins.
She took to Facebook and found her siblings.
Looking at pictures, Grabowski couldn't believe how much Peter Sampiere's two kids resembled her own. She discovered Peter Sampiere lives on Tomlinson Road, just around the corner from the house she grew up in on Elaine Drive.
A further Facebook search led Grabowski to learn that Peter Sampiere's kids were Facebook friends with Grabowski's daughter; that Grabowski's adopted brother went to school with Peter Sampiere's wife and Grabowski's son and Peter's son played football together. Grabowski said she and Peter Sampiere sat in the same bleachers, likely near each other, never knowing they were brother and sister.
"What a small, small world," Grabowski said.
The trio of siblings met face to face earlier this year at Peter Sampiere's home.
"It was wonderful," said Grabowski. "It was always my dream to find my birth family, but this was so much more than I ever expected."
Grabowski now lives in Florida, but has ventured back to Connecticut a few times to hang out with her newfound family. Kim Sampiere traveled to Florida in September to celebrate her birthday and Grabowski's birthday.
Peter Sampiere, 47, said his mother told him when he was 25 that she gave her first-born child up for adoption. He tried to track her down, but found siblings "have no rights" in closed adoptions. He tried a DNA kit, but admitted to "messing it up." About a week later Kim Sampiere called, telling her brother "the sibling given up for adoption found us."
The three siblings became instant Facebook friends, messaging, texting and talking on the phone.
Grabowski knows her birth mother did what she had to do.
"She loved me enough to want more for me than a single mother could have provided in 1962," she said. "I was adopted into a wonderful family with loving parents, who raised me right and with all the love as if I was their own. I had a great life on Great Hill in Seymour, but always wondered where I came from ... and now I know."
Information from: New Haven Register, http://www.nhregister.com