Now, at 83 years old, she finally has some answers, thanks to an Ancestry DNA test. Not only did she discover her ethnic makeup, but she also learned she has five half-brothers, four of whom she recently met for the first time.
“I call them my extended family,” Archer said. “My own children accept them; they accept my children. That’s what’s so good about it. When we’re together, it’s as if we’ve never been separated.”
Solving the mystery
Archer, a retired teacher for Sullivan County Schools, was put up for adoption when she was 10 days old and was adopted two years later. Over the years, she often wondered about her biological relatives, but she had nearly lost hope of finding them.
“Many years ago, even though I had my birth certificate, I was told I would never be able to track down my biological family, because there was no Ancestry DNA at that time. So I more or less kind of dismissed it as an impossibility,” Archer said. “But I have three children of my own, and they knew that if there was a way to find out, I would just like to know that they had lived and that I existed and that kind of thing.”
A flicker of hope appeared on Mother’s Day this year, when Archer’s son, Michael, gave her an Ancestry DNA kit as a gift. Two weeks after she submitted the kit, her son called with some shocking news.
“(He said) I have two half-brothers in Atlanta and three half-brothers in Knoxville,” Archer said. “My oldest daughter was able to make contact with my brothers. They were stunned but anxious to meet me.”
A family reunion
After talking on the phone several times with her newly found siblings, Archer decided it was time to meet face-to-face. She flew last month to Atlanta, where her two half-brothers on her mother’s side live.
Recently, she returned from meeting her three half-brothers on her father’s side in Knoxville. Kay Fleming, Archer’s daughter, said she wasn’t sure how the brothers would react to knowing they had a long-lost sister, but for the most part, they took the news pretty well.
“We were totally floored that she had so many half-siblings still alive and on both sides of her family,” Fleming said. “We weren’t expecting that at all.”
A world of discovery
Archer said she and her half-siblings are planning another get-together in the future. In the meantime, she wants others to know that a wealth of information is available to those who take a DNA test, not just their ethnic breakdowns.
“It’s a rare thing to be able to pick up the phone and call (my half-siblings), and they can call me,” Archer said. “We are just thrilled with each other.”