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DNA test brought new, loving family to a Seattle woman who never knew her father

Talisha Herald (bottom) posing like her father Sherman, who she never met, but shares many physical and personality traits with. (Courtesy Talisha Herald)

Over the past couple of days, I’ve shared some stories of less than ideal 23andMe DNA test outcomes. There was James Johnston who, at 61 years old, discovered the father he grew up with wasn’t actually his father.

“My mother hasn’t spoken to me since all this happened,” Johnston said. “So it was a secret she didn’t want revealed.”

Alice Argosino found out she wasn’t Greek after a lifetime of immersing herself in the culture.

“I felt cheated,” she said. “It’s a bit depressing, actually.”

But it’s important to note that good news can come from taking a DNA test.

Seattle’s Talisha Herald grew up with a single mom.

“I just never knew my biological father. My mom had a casual affair with someone. They didn’t live in the same city and afterward she realized she was pregnant and there just was no contact.”

But she’s always wanted to know who her dad is.

“It meant a lot to me and I just didn’t have any tools or any way to do that. The way I coped with that would be to tell myself it doesn’t matter, he probably wouldn’t want to know you. But it just kept coming back to me. I needed to know.”

Last year, Herald took the 23andMe DNA test and the first surprise was learning her ethnicity.

“I learned that I was 50 percent Jewish, which really surprised me.”

But the biggest and best surprise was learning she had a sister.

“She and I share a biological father and neither of us ever met him. He actually passed about a year before we figured all this out, which is a small tragedy.”

But when Herald and her sister Bonnie had their first phone call, they connected immediately.

“Let me just tell you that my sister is the best thing ever! I’m just so in love with her. We met for the first time over FaceTime and we were just staring at each other, we look a lot alike. This dream of my whole life of wanting to meet my family was coming alive. She was so warm and open-hearted and was so excited to meet me. We met for the very first time in San Francisco and we spent the weekend together. We had the best time, we laughed all weekend long. This is like one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life.”

Through 23andMe, Bonnie learned that the father she grew up was not actually her biological father. Herald and Bonnie’s biological dad was named Sherman and he connected with their respective mothers while traveling for business.

“Well, the funny thing is we call him Sherm the sperm! He had a great sense of humor, so I think he would laugh at that.”

Herald and her sister have since been welcomed into Sherman’s family. Last year, they flew back east to attend a family reunion and meet their cousins. She finally understands where her outgoing personality and Jewish facial features come from.

“It’s the total opposite of what I imagined would happen if I met my family. I’ve just gained this warm, loving, fun family that I never knew and now I get to spend the rest of my life getting to know them.”

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