News source from CTV News
On the day that Michael Henry Ponic turned 50 in 2016, his wife’s birthday gift filled him with dread. She had bought him a DNA online testing kit so he could try to find his birth mother.
Ponic wasn’t interested.
The Sooke, B.C. resident had tried years ago to find out more about the mother who gave him up for adoption in 1966. He knew a few basic things, such as where she delivered and her age, but after a few fruitless efforts to have his adoption records unsealed, he gave up.
But Ponic’s wife, Karen, wanted him to try again with the help of a DNA test.
“I’m sure your mother is having a hard time today, knowing that you’ve just turned 50,” Karen told him at the time.
But Ponic was having none of it, seeing no point in trying to dredge up the past. The testing kit gathered dust for weeks, until finally, last December, with his wife still urging him, Ponic gave in and sent in a saliva sample to AncestryDNA.
“I grudgingly spit into the cup,” Ponic told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview.
Within just weeks – and thanks to some diligent sleuthing from a newfound cousin in New Brunswick — Ponic finally found his birth mother. And now, after learning the sad story of how he was born, he’s getting set to finally meet her.
Ponic says he began to unravel his history with a message through the AncestryDNA testing website from a man in Fredericton that read: “Hey, it looks like I’m your second cousin.”
That man was Wayne Walsh who just so happened to have sent in his own DNA sample not long before, to trace his genealogy for his own children. The service told him a new user had DNA very similar to his own, so he sent out a note to make a connection.
Even then, Ponic wasn’t interested and left it to his wife to handle the correspondence.
“As it progressed, though, I became more and more curious,” Ponic admitted. “Now I’m ecstatic.”
Walsh soon figured out how this new family member out in B.C. fit into the family picture: he must be the long-lost baby of his mother’s cousin, Diana Doucet.
Doucet, for her part, had given up hope of ever finding her son, though she had never stopped thinking about him.
“Every birthday, every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, I wondered…” she told CTVNews.ca by phone between quiet sobs from her home in St. Thomas, Ont.
Doucet, now 71, was only 20 when she found herself unmarried and pregnant in her hometown of Windsor, Ont. in the spring of 1966.
Her mother was mortified and insisted she tell no one — which Doucet was able to do because she says her pregnancy never really showed. Even Doucet’s own father never suspected and didn’t learn about his daughter’s baby until years later.
The young romance that produced Ponic ended with the pregnancy, and Doucet was forced to give birth alone. “When I went into labour, Michael’s father went to Florida,” she said.
Nurses quickly whisked her baby away as soon as he was born. “I wasn’t even allowed to hold him,” she said quietly, holding back tears. And that was the last anyone in her family spoke of Doucet’s son.
“We never talked about it. It was just called ‘the incident’ in my family,” she said, before adding with a sigh: “…It was a different time.”
Doucet went on with her life, but never had any other children. She became a secretary, left Windsor and married once, but it didn’t last long. And still, as the decades wore on, she wondered what became of the baby she never knew.
The local Catholic Children’s Aid Society refused to help her track down her son, she said. “They talked to me like I was dirt. So I just… I just had to live with it,” she said.
Meanwhile, her son had been adopted by a local couple who had no other children of their own. Ponic says he had an ordinary childhood in Windsor and has since learned he grew up just down the road from his mother’s childhood home.
“Ironically, she grew up just five blocks away. I had to pass that house every day to go to high school,” Ponic said.
When he learned through Walsh that his birth mother was still alive, he tracked down her email address through her sister, Mickie, who was the first to tell Doucet that her son had been found.
Ponic excitedly sent her a note in early February, but then, nothing. No reply. Doucet says she was too overwhelmed to write back, and spent 10 days simply crying.
“I couldn’t compose myself to write back. Every time I wrote something, I couldn’t send it,” she said between tears.
Finally, she mustered up the courage and wrote, “Yes, you found your birth mother.”
That led to a tearful phone call the next day. “And we’ve been in contact by phone or email every single day since,” she says.
Doucet says she never had a doubt Ponic was her son. For starters, there was the DNA match. Then, all the information he had about his birth was correct.
“And then I looked him up on Facebook and there he was. I mean, he looked exactly like his dad. And me. He had his father’s chin and eyes like his dad’s, and my cheeks,” she said.
Now, the two are planning to finally meet, with Doucet flying out to Vancouver Island with a friend in a few weeks. She plans to stay 10 days, meeting Ponic and the daughter-in-law she never knew she had, and learn more about the grandson she now has through Ponic’s previous marriage.
Doucet is planning to bring along a lot of tissues.
“I’m going to be a basket case,” she said. “But that’s okay. I’ll get through it. It will be hard but I want to do it.”
In the few short weeks since she found her son, Doucet has gathered together photos of her new family into what she calls brag books and has been showing them to anyone who will listen, including her friends at her church in St. Thomas.
“I’m telling everyone,” she says.
And it was those friends at her church who helped pay Doucet’s flight.
“My church where I go, they gave me a party, because they were so happy for me,” she said.
“…Rather than give me booties and bassinets, they gave me money… It was like a baby shower, just a late one.”
Ponic says his adoptive parents died years ago, but he’s certain his adoptive mother would have been pleased to know he’s finally found his birth mother. And when they do meet, he knows his wife Karen will have all sorts of questions for her.
But Ponic himself says he’s just looking forward to finally meeting the woman who was forced to give him up all those years ago.
“All I want to do is see my mum,” he said. “All that other stuff just kind of melts away. It’s all in the past. I’m just glad that I’m going to meet her.”
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