Julie Knott


I’m a year and a half into my MPE. It’s been tough but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Something was always wrong when I was young. I was in trouble a lot, even though I strained to be good. My mom braided my hair sometimes, and my dad threw balls with me after work occasionally, but home did not feel like my safe place. By the time I was a teenager, it seemed like my mom had grown to hate me—my sisters followed her lead. My goal was to make it at home until I finished high school, which I barely accomplished. 

I was raised to believe that my stepdad Gordon was my genetic father. It was not a family secret that Gordon lived in an orphanage until he was adopted by my grandparents when he was five. At sixteen, I distinctly remember at my grandfather’s funeral, thinking, I wonder how many females grow a head taller than their entire family. And, how can I be the only one with blue eyes?  

When I was twenty, my mother’s sister reported while on heavy drugs, that their father had poker parties with his friends and that she and my mom were the prizes. I strongly suspected then that I was a product of rape or incest and that my grandfather could possibly be my genetic father. I worked hard to accept myself if that turned out to be true. 

When I was thirty, Oregon opened its adoption rights laws and I obtained my father’s original birth certificate. I found his family and they closely resembled my sisters and their children, but not me. I squared my shoulders and went on with life. At 58 I bought a 23andMe kit in COVID boredom to find out more about my health history. My sister’s son was also on the site, and my results listed him as my half nephew, and that’s how I learned my siblings had a different father than me. 

At this point, I really started to wonder if my grandfather, or one of his friends, was my genetic father. I found a search angel to help me figure it out. I submitted a sample to Ancestry while she worked on my family tree. She identified three men who were a possibility of being my genetic father. 

Congratulations! You’re Ancestry DNA results are in! 

My search angel and I opened the results together and found an aunt and first cousin immediately. This led to the deceased person who was likely my father, and his son, my brother. 

To this day, that one person, my newly discovered brother, is the only family member who acknowledges me. 

My siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins don’t speak to me anymore. 

My DNA discovery came with other shocking and sad information. My new brother learned that our father had spent a few years in the state penitentiary, something he didn’t know. It turns out our father was a likable criminal who seemed to want to be arrested for crimes; crimes that didn’t hurt anyone. Our father’s first crime started with county jail time when I was twelve weeks in utero and culminated with a term in the penitentiary two days before I was born. When he was released, he lived a few miles from me for five years. 

One of the hardest parts of this discovery is that my genetic father knew about me.

When my mom was 7-1/2 months pregnant with me, she married Gordon, and I was born two months later. She pretended I was premature. As I grew older, my lack of resemblance to my father became obvious. I am pretty sure this is why my life became more difficult, so difficult that I finally couldn’t live at home anymore. 

Some events make sense now. Like the time in high school when I was voted “prettiest eyes”. When I got home from school that day, feeling kind of pretty (LOL), my mom was furious and drunk. She hit me, pulled my hair, and kept saying “who the hell do you think you are”? I could not figure it out, but I thought she was trying to keep me from becoming too vain. It turns out I have my genetic dad’s eyes. 

My story, and the many synchronous events within it, have blown my mind but there is one small event that is especially tender to me. In 2015, a race was announced from Port Townend, WA, where I live, to Ketchikan, AK, 750 miles north by sea. It’s an engineless boat race, up the Inside Passage through rugged, remote waters. I’m not a strong sailor yet I have been obsessed with this race from the beginning. I bought my own boat, trained, studied tides, weather, and currents, and was accepted into the race in March 2020 but the race was canceled due to COVID.

A few months after its cancelation, my DNA test results came in and I met my new brother. For some reason, the first time we talked, I had to tell him about racing to Alaska to get to Ketchikan. 

After a quiet pause, he said, “Our dad was born in Ketchikan.” My yearning to return to the place where he was born made sense. Now that I know who I am, I can go back and understand my life from a much better vantage point. Even with all of the hardship, my discovery has brought, I am so glad I finally know the truth and can see the reasons behind so many things about me and my life.