MIAMI – Simple, at-home DNA testing is shedding a light on the ancestry of millions of Americans. The journey to the past can bring up some major surprises in the present.
For the past decade, Curt Cowen has been on Ancestry.com building his family tree.
“I have over 756 people on my tree right now, and it’s not even close to being finished,” Cowen said.
But a couple of years ago, he reached a dead end on his paternal side.
“So I decided to put my DNA on Ancestry.com just to find out whether I could make any connections,” Cowen said.
The connection he subsequently made led to a stunning discovery. Cowen had a daughter in California he never knew existed.
It all goes back to 1973 and a few hours one night in San Diego.
“I met a woman in a bar and we had some drinks, and we ended up, I believe, I only have a vague recollection of it, in her apartment. I knew her for five hours. She didn’t know my last name. I didn’t know her last name, and I never heard or saw or thought of her again,” Cowen said.
That brief encounter led to the birth of a baby girl named Sage. For decades, Sage Blake and her mother thought a different man was her biological father.
“I knew, as a board certified family law attorney, I knew DNA doesn’t lie,” Cowen said.
The father and daughter finally met when Blake flew to Florida for a Cowen family Thanksgiving.
“It’s nice, actually,” Blake said. “I don’t have, actually, a lot of family back in California, so I don’t do too much holiday stuff with family, so this is a nice change.”
With their connection, Cowen’s family has expanded to include Blake’s children. He now has two granddaughters, ages 23 and 16, and a 17-year-old grandson.
"As a family law attorney, I've seen some incredible family dynamics. I never imagined the most incredible family dynamic would happen to me," Cowen said.
“This is something I never thought in a million years I would ever have," Blake said.
Experts caution that sometimes the secrets revealed through DNA testing can split families apart. However, in this case, Cowen and Blake are planning more family reunions in the future.