Dawn VanGorkum


For nearly 43 years I lived a lie. I had no clue. My dad that raised me was also clueless. My mother claims she did not think I was another man’s child, but given the several different narratives she has said to me and the timeline she claims for the “encounter” with my biological father she would have been pregnant with me for nearly a year. IMPOSSIBLE!

It all started in August of 2021 when my oldest son told me my dad was not showing up on his DNA tree. I thought it had to be a mix up, so I asked my mom. She told me she needed to talk to my dad and would get back to me in a few days. A few days later I got a call about what the possibility of my paternity was. The dad that raised me had my mom, him, and myself do a paternity test. The results we received in October 2021 were a ZERO percent chance he was my father. I lost my mind! I cried, I didn’t know what to feel or think. I went through a roller coaster of emotions wave after wave and sometimes back again. Just when things had settled down about two years later, a neighbor came to me, and told me her story. She had found out the same thing about herself around the same time I had. She had found DNAngels and referred me to them.

In May 2023 DNAngels found my paternal father. From May until July 2023, I went back and forth with whether to make contact. Finally, I got the nerve up to at least see what he looked like. So, my best friend and I got in her car (literally just 5 minutes after me saying I think I want to do this) and went on a road trip. I bolted out of the car the moment I saw the man at the door and blurted out “I think I’m your daughter”.  Long story short, after a while of telling my story he agreed to take a paternity test. A week after I met him, we took the test. A few weeks later the results came back greater than 99.9999% chance he was my biological father. Slowly we started text messaging each other, then phone calls, and then short visits for a few hours. Then in October 2023 we spent a week together.

This entire time I don’t think that anyone understood that I felt like a dirty secret. I still think most don’t get it. I tried to explain how I was feeling, and no one seemed to listen. I felt like no one cared how I felt, and it was all about how my mother felt and what she wanted. What I wanted and how it was affecting me did not matter.

No one in the two and a half years since finding out that the dad that raised me was not my father knew anything. I felt enough was enough. So, this November 2023 I put out information to friends and extended family about the identity of my biological father and it started a huge DRAMA. I ended up in a fight with my mother, half- sister (by my mother), and the dad that raised me (BCF). The result was me cutting ties with my half-sister, giving my mother and BCF some space, and then without a word having my oldest child (who is an adult) completely cut me off (no calls, no texts, no contact, no social media). My heart was ripped out of my chest to lose my child like that. I am in therapy and my therapist feels that my oldest will come around eventually. No one in the extended family has asked me how I found out or even how I am feeling… according to my mother they contacted her. So, that means they only have her side of things and only her feelings on this and they don’t seem interested in my side.

I am still in a very painful place and go back and forth between crying my eyes out to being angry. I am hoping to find peace in all of this mess. The one good thing out of all of this is my biological father is a good guy and cares. I struggled with if I wanted to meet him because I was afraid of what I might find. None of this journey makes sense to me, but I am trying to navigate the uncharted waters of my discovery. I am glad I found out the truth, but I wish it did not have to come at such a high cost.