Most of us are lucky enough to grow up in a close family with few secrets kept in the closet. Or at least we think we are until we get much older and discover that our family members weren’t as squeaky clean as we thought they were when we were kids. Family life is never straight forward, and for one man he had spent his entire life separated from his birth mother.
The only contact they had between them was a loving embrace for six hours after he was born. The guy spent his entire life never knowing his birth mother, but fast-forward to when he was an adult he was now waiting at the airport for her to arrive. This is their story.
Love at first sight
Many mothers say that they love their babies from the very moment they look at them. Not every mother chooses to keep their baby though and many are put up for adoption. Some people aren’t in the right place to have children, and the best thing for them is to give them to a family who will be able to take care of their every need.
That’s what happened to Jeff Snyder when his birth mother had to say goodbye to her newborn son after just six hours. Snyder lives in Tampa Bay, Florida, and spent the past 51 years not knowing who gave birth to him. Then one day he was curious to discover more about his ancestry so decided it was time to do some digging.
Years in the making
Jeff hadn’t known that his birth mother only got to hold him for six hours, or if he would ever get to meet her. As he was approaching his 50th birthday, he decided he wanted to know more about his family tree, so he signed up to the Ancestry website.
This company sends out a DNA kit, and you give them a sample of yours. Then, if you’re lucky someone else in your family that you’ve never met has also given the company your DNA, and you can find them. It is great for finding long-lost cousins and distant relatives, but sometimes the company strikes it lucky. It was Jeff’s lucky day as he had found a DNA match.
Like many people who use the family tree finding company, Jeff didn’t expect to find too much from his search. Nevertheless, he gave Ancestry his DNA sample and let them work their magic. What Jeff didn’t realize was that his birth mother had also given the company her DNA as she too was looking to find any family she could connect with.
Around two years after sending his DNA sample, Jeff heard some good news and the company had found a match for him. He was probably expecting to find an aunt or something, but to his amazement, there was someone much closer to him. Thanks to Ancestry, and against the odds, Jeff had found his birth mother.
A bit of fun
Jeff really had no expectations of finding anyone, and he only registered with the company out of curiosity. You never know who you might be related to, and for all Jeff knew he could have ties to Queen Elizabeth II or Tom Cruise.
He just didn’t know what to expect, but Jeff didn’t get his hopes up and knew how slim the chances were of finding anyone. It was just a bit of fun, and it could end up a fun story to tell people if Ancestry did somehow discover a relative that Jeff could connect with. They found a little more than that and who they found would change Jeff’s life.
Meet Judy Newkirk
Jeff didn’t seem to know who his birth mother was, but Ancestry did. Judy Newkirk had given Jeff up 51 years ago, after getting just six hours with her newborn baby. She never thought she would ever see him again and accepted that he was off to start a new life with a different family.
Judy was looking to see if any of her family members had signed up to the company that puts people together using their DNA. To her surprise, there was someone who matched with her, and it was the little boy she had only briefly held all those years ago. It was a miracle that she found him, but they lived in different parts of the country.
Time to get planning
Jeff and Judy were put in touch through Ancestry, and they both were amazed they had the chance to speak. It was one thing to speak on the phone, but this mother hadn’t been able to hold her son for over five decades.
There had to be a way for the mother and son to reconnect. Despite the distance between them, they arranged to meet, and Judy was going to fly all the way to Florida to meet her long lost son.
The long wait
Despite the fact they were keeping in touch, it took around two years for Jeff and Judy to arrange their meeting. Then in February 2019, Jeff found himself anxiously waiting at Tampa International Airport for his birth mother to arrive.
She finally came through arrivals, and Jeff wrapped his arms around his mother. Judy had waited 51 years to finally get the chance to hug her son after saying goodbye to him when he was just six hours old. Now they were back in each other’s lives.
Like a first date
While Jeff was waiting for his mother to arrive, he told news reporters that it felt “like a first date.” He said he had butterflies in his stomach while he anticipated his mother coming through the airport.
This was a big life moment for Jeff, and it was understandable that he was a little nervous. There would be many questions for Judy to answer and they had 51 years worth of stories to swap. Things were going to get emotional for this son and his birth mother.
Jeff was very nervous before his birth mom came through the airport and it seemed as though he didn’t know what to do with himself. There was so much unknown about the meeting, and Jeff had to burn off his nervous energy any way that he could.
That meant constantly checking the board for any news about his birth mother’s plane and generally being restless. The nervous pacing back and forth would soon stop as Jeff spotted someone who looked familiar.
Letting the emotions flow
This meeting was a big occasion for both Jeff and Judy. Once they spotted each other in the airport, they immediately moved to hug each other. Jeff welcomed his birth mother to Florida, before welcoming her into his life.
The tears were flowing as this meeting had been 51 years in the making, so it was a big relief to both parties. The last time Judy had seen Jeff was in 1967, and now here he was, all grown up.
His first words
Interestingly enough, the first words that Jeff said to his mother when he first saw her were, “Hey pretty lady.” When you consider the fact that they still hadn’t established a rapport with each other yet, it’s pretty amazing that Jeff was so comfortable with her to say something like that.
It’s obvious that he’d been thinking about that moment for quite some time, and he wanted to make sure it was just perfect. And so far it was looking pretty good.
Welcome to Florida
When they first started hugging each other, Jeff then said a very telling statement. “Welcome to Florida… Welcome to my life.” It was almost as if Florida was the introductory gate.
He was welcoming her into his life, and Florida was her ticket to that. These excitement between these two in that moment was through the rooftop, but more than that, it was clear how nervous they both were too. Tears were being held back in that moment, and they wanted to come out badly.
Judy’s first ‘words’
Judy, on the other hand, had an even better reaction. While her son Jeff was at least able to string together sentences, Judy wasn’t even able to do that. She had so much to say, but she didn’t know where to start.
After they had hugged, Judy tried to speak but couldn’t. Finally she was able to get out the word, “Amazing” – and just as well, because that word clearly sums out how these two were feeling. Imagine waiting for this day for 51 years.
Hi, I’m your birth mother
Jeff explained to reporters that he had received an email in the middle of the night from Judy, who introduced herself to him as her birth mother. He said that the journey to find his mother had been an exciting one, even if it did take almost two years for them to reconnect.
By the look on his and Judy’s faces when they finally embraced after so long, the wait was definitely worth it. They had spent their lives apart, but could now take some time to get to know each other.
Watching for planes
While waiting for his birth mom to arrive, the Fox News cameraman captured a very sweet moment from Jeff. He was waiting at the airport and watching the planes come in. Jeff saw one plane land and began to anticipate that his mother was onboard that aircraft.
As the moment the pair would meet drew closer Jeff was just as excited as a young boy would be. It was clearly a monumental event in Jeff’s life, and the same could be said about Judy.
Judy was delighted to be reunited with her son, and after their tearful embrace, she had a few words for the cameras. She told the camera that she held him for six hours 51 years ago, and this was the first time she got to do it again.
All of Jeff’s butterflies were gone, and the pair seemed to have an instant bond that only a mother and her child can have. Now they had met they could catch up on all that has happened over the past 50 years.
Finding other family histories
Ancestry.com haven’t only helped out Jeff and Judy in their lives, and the genealogy company has been helping plenty of famous people learn their family trees. The show Who Do You Think You Are? first aired in the UK, but was brought to America shores thanks to NBC and TLC.
They have found past relatives for many of the most famous people in the world, helping them uncover hidden secrets from their families. The show has been running for 15 seasons in the UK, and 11 in the US.
History repeating itself
Author JK Rowling, the writer behind the Harry Potter book series, found out that her family seems destined to repeat itself. She discovered that there is a long line of single mothers from her family which put her own life into perspective.
Rowling herself was once a single mother, back before she found success writing and inventing Harry Potter’s magical world that so many people love. She said that she felt the connection to her relatives of the past as she recognized the struggle they went through.
Who’s your grandfather?
Australian actress Toni Collette discovered for the first time that the man she thought was her grandfather was not. Her DNA results showed that her father didn’t share his genes with the man he thought was his birth father. Instead, the show unearthed a secret wartime affair.
It was thought that Collette’s biological grandfather was actually a US serviceman who had been posted to Australia during the war. With so many servicemen in Australia at the time, she never discovered who her biological grandfather was, despite a public appeal.
Related to royalty
The dream when signing up to do the show would be to discover that you are related to royalty. British actor Danny Dyer did the show and found out that he is the direct descendant of two past kings. Both William the Conqueror and Edward II’s blood runs through the actor’s veins.
The show also discovered that Dyer is related to Henry VIII’s royal advisor, Oliver Cromwell. This discovery led to Dyer starring in his own documentary where he learned all about how his royal relatives used to live.
Civil war hero
American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson found out that one of her relatives was once a civil war hero when she went on Who Do You Think You Are? Little did she know that one of her ancestors, named Isaiah Rose, was deep-rooted in American history and fought for the Union.
Her three-times great-grandfather fought for the rights of others and even became a senator in Ohio. Maybe knowing how brave her relatives were in the past will inspire Clarkson to write a song commemorating them.
The great thing for Jeff and his long-lost mother was that she was still around for him to speak to. Unlike the celebrities, Jeff had tangible proof that he was related to Judy, and he could ask her all about her life.
There was no need to speculate and wonder what she was like, he was looking at her. Two years after signing up to the genealogy website he finally had a result, and it brought him back to his birth mother.
More than six hours now
Judy only got to hold Jeff when he was a little baby for six hours, but now he was a full-grown man, and she could hold him for as long as she wanted.
Jeff had built his own life in Florida, and now he was prepared to share some of that with the woman who gave him up back in the 1960s. There would be plenty of cuddles now between Jeff and Judy, without someone coming along and taking him away.
This reunion would not have been possible if it wasn’t for both Judy and Jeff thinking about seeing what secrets were in their DNA. It was amazing that within two years they both signed up to the website and were matched.
Judy contacted Jeff in October 2018, and just six months later the mother and son were able to come together to share a special moment. If saying goodbye to Jeff was a moment Judy would never forget, then reuniting with him 51 years later would be just as special.
This meeting between Jeff and Judy came about because they were both curious. Neither could have predicted meeting each other, but fate found a way to make sure their paths crossed once more.
It is stories like these that inspire others to sign up to genealogy services like Ancestry to discover lost family and past relatives. You never know what’s hidden in your family history until you open up that Pandora’s box and take a look inside.
When all the hugging had been done, and Jeff had a few moments to breathe, he started talking to the news reporters. When he did, he had an interesting outlook to the whole thing.
He said that he was a “success story” because he had managed to find his long lost birth mother. This is a very astute observation on Jeff’s part, because it shows that even though he was able to find his relatives, he knows that it’s very uncommon for others signing up for Ancestry.com.
In other words, he’s not taking his fortune for granted. He knows how lucky he was to find his mother, and he’s going to embrace it as much as he possibly can. But even though he’s in the minority, his happiness led him to send a message to everyone out there who might be listening.
He wants everyone to register to Ancestry.com, because you never know who’s out there potentially looking for you. You never know what other relatives you have living their own separate lives.