BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A woman adopted from Korea managed to find her biological father in Bakersfield by using the 23andMe Genetic Testing kit.
23ABC news took an inside look into their first Father's Day celebration together and found out how the two managed to find their way back to one another through a Kern County tie.
Sarah Fawcett was born in Korea and spent the first few months of her life in an orphanage, until one day Steve and Nancy Fawcett adopted their first 5 month old child and Sarah arrived at Los Angeles Airport.
Fawcett said she grew up in Moorpark California for most of her life until moving to Kern County just two years ago. However, what she didn't know was that another family member was also waiting for her in Bakersfield. "I knew from a very early age that I was adopted I mean for one my mom has blonde hair blue eyes my dad had red hair, but I never felt like I didn't belong," Sarah Fawcett said.
Fawcett grew up with her two loving parents, Nancy and Steve Fawcett and she didn't spend a lot of time worrying about finding her biological parents. "That was never going to happen, I was never going to you know fly to Korea and find her, I didn't know where my biological father was either," Fawcett said.
Two years ago the loving mother of two, moved to Bakersfield, however this past Christmas she received an unexpected addition to her life under her family tree, "My mom gave me a 23andMe DNA kit," Fawcett said.
The way the 23andMe DNA kits work is you purchase the kit, take a saliva sample from your mouth, send it off to a lab and wait for your emailed results.
After about a month of waiting Fawcett received a 32 page list of almost one thousand people that had similar DNA traits to hers, "And then that's when my aunt and grandfather popped up," Fawcett said.
From there Fawcett started reaching out to first and second cousins to piece together her original family tree, she eventually tracked down her father, "They kind of came up with I think you are talking about my great uncle Victor Castaneda," Fawcett said.
Fawcett was also surprised when she found out from her new found relatives that she didn't have to go all the way back to Korea to find her father Castaneda, "And she said he lives in Bakersfield and I said I live in Bakersfield now!!"
Castaneda, a former U.S. Army veteran was stationed in Korea at the time when he met Fawcett’s biological mother. A year into their relationship Castaneda was ordered to return to the states and he lost contact with Fawcett’s mother, "But all this time I knew I had a child over there and of course my conscious bothered me and I worried about it quite a bit." Fawcett’s biological father, Victor Castaneda said.
Castaneda grew up in Bakersfield so he knew he wanted to return to be closer to his family and complete his education at Cal State University of Bakersfield. Castaneda also didn't know another piece of his family roots were also waiting for him in Bakersfield as well until one of his family members approached him with news about Fawcett. "She said you have a daughter here, not in Korea but Bakersfield, I said Bakersfield?! How is that even possible!!? It was just I couldn't believe it," Castaneda said.
Castaneda and Fawcett finally made contact and met up for dinner for the first time. The two both decided to take a paternity test, just to be sure the 23andMe results were true. "It confirmed everything, that I was the father. It was 99.999 percent affirmation that I was the father." Castaneda said.
Castaneda has a son from another marriage but after the paternity test results came back, Castaneda received a daughter and two grandchildren. He spent Father’s Day soaking in the sunshine with all members of the Fawcett family, building a new branch onto his family tree with his daughter and grandchildren.
"I'm so happy you know and her children are just awesome I mean they are just beautiful," Castaneda said.
Sunday, both Castaneda and Fawcett celebrated the first of many Father's Day family traditions together.
"It's was like a miracle.. really I mean what are the odds of that," Fawcett said.
Castaneda said he spent many years worrying about his child out there in the world. He had no idea if he had a boy or girl. However, after meeting Fawcett he was so proud of the person she has become and the family who raised her.
Fawcett and Castaneda now have plans to head to New Mexico to spend July 4, with her biological grandfather for the first time on his 97th birthday.