By Jeff Balke
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His mother had been waiting there for him to find her. "And it turns out that my mom had put my information on the Texas birth registry, too," he says. "I think she let herself be known, should I want to know her. So as soon as I put my stuff on there, it was a match."
The Search Angels told Guest his mother's name (which Guest doesn't want the Press to divulge yet) and that she was alive and well in Michigan. She married a few years after she gave birth to Guest and has three girls, including a set of twins. "That's good to know, because now my wife and I might not have kids," Guest quips. "And that's exactly what we're thinking of, so it's very good to know."
The Search Angels also gave him her e-mail address, and so the mother and son had their first conversation via a series of e-mails. "I wasn't ready for a phone call or a plane trip yet," says Guest, just a couple of days after he met his mother electronically. The two had only exchanged thumbnail bios. "It's weird," he says. "It's almost like a love affair that never got to happen, and now it gets to happen, but not in a gross way. But it is kind of like that. Sometime this summer I'm gonna fly up there and spend the weekend -- I don't want to go up there now. It's, you know, Michigan."
Here is what Guest has learned about his birth: "She was 17 or something like that and about to go to college, and that was when she met my dad. And they screwed up and got pregnant. There weren't a whole lot of abortions going on up there in the Midwest at that time. So her family sent her away to have the kid so she could do it in private. So she came down here and stayed at a hostel of some kind and had some doctor who her family knew."
His mother's whole life unraveled during that time. "I guess my dad didn't want anything to do with this," Guest continues. "So he took off, and she has mentioned that it is a long story and an interesting one, but I don't have it yet." And it is one that doesn't reflect well on his father. Based on what his birth mother has told him, Guest says, he does not want to meet him yet, and when he does meet him, he imagines that it will be more of a confrontation than a reunion.
"Anyway," says Guest, "they went their separate ways when it was established that she was pregnant, and she hasn't seen him since. He is aware of my existence, though. She came down here to have me -- and this is really sad -- but a month before I was born, her dad died of a massive heart attack. So one month before she's about to have this baby she's gonna have to give up, her dad blows it.
"And just as you might think, it was very difficult for her to let me go, and then she had to do it, and just...went back home. And she says that no day has passed since that she doesn't think about it. I guess if you were a mom, that's what would happen. Within a couple of years she had gotten married, she finished college in Michigan, and she taught school for a couple of years, and she's been a full-time mom ever since. She has three daughters. This whole thing has almost been like that damn TV show, Who's Your Daddy?"
And just like on the weeper of an Only Fox Would Dare Do This reality special, there's a happy ending. Guest is elated. "I'm 37 years old and just entering what is basically the second half of my life," he says. "So I'm sort of ecstatic about it basically. There's no problem here. This is what I've always wanted, and I'm in shock. Not car-accident shock, but psychological shock in a good way. I'm spinning a little bit, but mostly overflowing with happiness. This is the best thing that I thought would never happen."
Greenspan likes to say that FTDNA is like the Hair Club for Men -- not only is he the CEO, he's also a customer. A real estate developer and entrepreneur, Greenspan has been interested in genealogy since his preteen days. He recalls drawing up his first family tree at age 11 or 12. "I was just interested in it," he says. "I was the only one in the family who was interested in it. My parents didn't understand -- but it was great because it gave me an excuse to talk to my grandparents and great-aunts, and of course they loved that. They would say things like, 'Oh, he's such an interesting young boy.' "
Like many genealogists, Greenspan hit some dead ends. In the mid-'90s, he discovered another Greenspan living in Argentina who grew up ten miles from his grandfather in Ukraine and whose family was in the same business as his. He had a hunch that they were related, but there were no documents to back it up. He wanted to do a DNA test, but no company did DNA testing for genealogical purposes back then. "I searched everywhere, and I was talking to a genetics professor at the University of Arizona, and he said somebody should start a company doing something like this, because he got phone calls from genealogists all the time," he says. "And sure enough, it took me a while, but eventually I convinced him at the University of Arizona to do the testing, and the rest is history. We really are the first company in the world to offer this service."