They were sitting together in front of the screen in silence, but those four words still hung in the air. Her daughter looked up at her mother with bewildered eyes before saying them aloud, breaking the spell.
“Aaron Long: 50%,” she whispered. Jessica couldn’t control the shudder that was inching its way up her spine. Because those four words changed everything.
Being a single mom certainly wasn’t easy, but Jessica was content to be living with her 13-year-old daughter, Alice. Although they were happy in their household of two, they had experienced a lot of heartache along the way.
But fate had something else in store for the mother-daughter duo. And it all began with a simple DNA test.
Although Alice didn’t have any contact with one entire side of her family, her grandmother (on Jessica’s side) was fiercely proud of her heritage.
She loved to tell tales about her Cornish roots to her rapt granddaughter and, indeed, to anyone else who would listen. It was only a matter of time before young Alice became curious… to her mother’s dismay.
Now that Alice’s curiosity had been triggered, there was no stopping her. In an era where home DNA tests revealing the deepest family secrets have become almost commonplace, Alice applied her inquiring mind to one question: who was her dad?
She implored her granny to buy her a DNA test for Christmas… and granny happily obliged.
On Christmas Day in 2016, Alice excitedly unwrapped the gift from her granny — a sophisticated genealogy kit from a company called “23 and Me”.
She had wanted to bond with her beloved mother as they traced their roots together. But when the results came back, they shattered her world and had unintentional consequences for everyone involved…especially her mom.
For the two months that Alice waited for the results to come back, her mother was an emotional wreck. Jessica couldn’t even begin to describe — or even understand — the mixed emotions that were cartwheeling through her head.
She felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights of what was to come. But, surprisingly, there was also a glimmer of happiness appearing here and there. Was this Alice’s way of moving past the recent trauma they had both endured?
Alice, on the other hand, appeared to have a new purpose in life. She was finally excited for the future and her energy levels were improving. Jessica was happy to see that the usually listless pre-teen was taking such an interest in something.
Even though the thought of her inevitable discoveries filled her with dread, she brushed her fears aside. Knowing full-well that once Pandora’s box was opened, there was no going back. The results were in.
“Alice knows more deeply than most children that family is neither genetically created nor forged through parenting alone,” Jessica wrote later. “Parenting did not make her mama stay.”
Jessica sat beside her daughter as she opened the results and clicked onto the DNA Relatives section of the ancestry site, not thinking that anything would come of it. But she was very wrong.
With the words “Aaron Long: 50% Father” hanging in white emptiness on the computer screen, Alice looked up at her mother with a bewildered expression on her face.
Jessica tried to control her emotions, but she couldn’t hide the fact that the name affected her, too. It wasn’t lost on her that the name was so familiar… in fact, she’d had a boyfriend with the exact same name. But she’d used a donor to conceive Alice… could it be a coincidence?
As if the first match wasn’t enough to send their hearts racing, the next words on the screen were “Bryce Gallo: 25%. Half-brother”.
Jessica immediately knew what Alice was thinking. Her daughter wanted to connect with her lost relatives, but Jessica wasn’t about to let that happen. At least, not without doing some research of her own.
Jessica typed “Aaron Long” into the Google search bar, but the results left her with more questions than answers.
It turned out that there were many people with the name Aaron Long. And her donor could have been any one of them. Luckily, Jessica worked in the marketing sphere and knew exactly what to do to narrow down her options.
It was lucky that Jessica remembered the date of donation — 1994. This information helped her narrow down the search by calculating the donor’s birth and graduation years.
Now, she could eliminate some of the Aaron Longs on her list. Then, she found a man who was, according to her research, the correct age. And it wasn’t a coincidence that this man had a master’s degree in literature…
Jessica’s heart began to race as she scoped out the man’s professional LinkedIn profile. This had to be Alice’s father… she knew it in her heart.
In his profile picture, Aaron was wearing a green shirt and playing the trombone. She couldn’t help but notice that the man also worked as a communication specialist, just like her. A strange feeling began to arise inside her. But what she discovered next left her stunned.
Aaron’s social media account said that he was a writer and musician, which was just what she was looking for.
As soon as she realized that she might have found the right man, it was easier to track down this specific Aaron Long with available internet and social media information. She did some stalking, and it didn’t take long for her to find his Facebook account.
Jesica snooped through Aaron’s profile, which featured some high school photos that left her blindsided once again. She felt all of her doubts beginning to disappear.
Alice was an exact copy of the man in the pictures. They had the same smile. That’s when Jessica became just as inquisitive as her daughter was. She didn’t waste any time. She had to send Aaron Long a message.