Modern technology and the rise of social media in the last decade has made it easier for people to connect in all ways and no one knows that better than an Angier man. He researched his past through a website and opened a new segment of life and found a sister he never knew he had.
Like many people do, Joe Langley used the ancestry.com website to learn about his ancestry in July of this year.
Originally, he was trying to find out where his family came from. He found he has a European background, but he never dreamed what he could find out about his past.
An email from the website shocked him.
He received an email in early October that read, “Our analysis of your DNA predicts that a person you match is probably either your sibling or grandparent.”
Shortly, another email came from Patty Gemmill in West Virginia.
It read that, “You have come up as an immediate family match here and that is why I am contacting you.”
The email went on to say that, “I know it’s a long shot finding my birth mother but I’m hoping to maybe get a little information about her.”
Further communication between the two revealed that both Mr. Langley and Mrs. Gemmill were the children of Maude Adams. Mr. Langley and his wife then drove to West Virginia for the reunion. They enjoyed a meal together with Ms. Gemmill and her daughter, Michelle Harriss.
According to Mrs. Gemmill, she was first told her mother’s name was Lee Adams.
“I think she didn’t like the name Maude and she went by Lee,” Mrs. Gemmill said.
Mrs. Gemmill was born in Broward County, Fla., while her father was deployed in World War II. The couple were not married. He died as a result of injuries received in the war.
Her mother did what she thought was the right thing at the time and gave her baby up for adoption in 1946.
Her adoptive parents were Harold M. and Rose H. Hirsh of Miami. Her adoptive parents moved to Florida specifically to adopt Mrs. Gemmill.
“They were too old to adopt in Pennsylvania so they moved to Miami Beach,” Mrs. Gemmill said.
Her father was 49 and her mother was 42 at the time of the adoption.
Mrs. Gemmill is now 72 years old and Mr. Langley is 67.
Mr. Langley said he is still in shock and has reason to be thankful as he moves into the holiday season.
“What a thing to be thankful for, to find out I have a sister I never knew I had,” Mr. Langley said.“This is the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of.”
Mrs. Gemmill’s family began researching her ancestry because of a medical condition. She has thrombosis which is hereditary.
Though her condition is stable now, she may need a bone marrow transplant in the future. Because they have the same mother, there is a significant chance Mr. Langley would be a match. They have not pursued further tests to determine if Mr. Langley can donate his bone marrow to his new-found sister.
Mrs. Gemmill said throughout her life she was interested in her genealogy but never investigated who her parents were.
“I always knew I was adopted and I wondered who my family was, but I didn’t want to interrupt anyone’s life,” she said. “I was also afraid I might not like them.”
She knew there was a connection to North Carolina.
“That is all I knew, that my mother had gone to North Carolina,” Mrs. Gemmill said.
“I liked Joe right away,” Ms. Gemmill said. “It was amazing to me how we bonded. I knew right away he was my brother. My daughter even noticed how we bonded together after we met.”
She said the entire experience of meeting Mr. Langley has changed her life.
“Now that I have met Joe I feel like I’m complete,” Mrs. Gemmill said.
She plans to continue building relationships with the Langley family. She will be in North Carolina during the upcoming holiday season to celebrate with new cousins, nieces, nephews and other family.
“I have a whole bunch of family I need to meet now,” Mrs. Gemmill said.
-The Daily Record