Two years after her son, Chris, died, a woman appeared on Jennifer’s doorstep and explained that she was not her son’s birth mother. Jennifer did not believe her at first but remembered the DNA tests she had never checked. Then the woman revealed more.
“Hi, can I help you?” Jennifer asked after opening her door and spotting a strange woman on her front porch. She had to be a few years younger and sad with deep-set eyes. There was a headscarf covering her hair. Jennifer had never seen her before, but there was something familiar in her emerald eyes and pale skin.
“Is this where Chris Calloway lives?” the woman asked.
Jennifer stood still for a few seconds after hearing Chris’s name. It had been two years since his passing, but no amount of time would ever make her pain go away. But it was surprising to hear someone looking for him. Almost everyone knew he died after battling cancer for several years. He was only 23 years old.
I’m sorry, ma’am. You didn’t hear? My son died two years ago,” Jennifer replied with a sad smile. The woman’s eyes widened in shock, and she touched her chest in surprise.
Oh, dear. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know,” she breathed.
“May I ask why you’re looking for him?”
“You’re his mother?” the woman wondered hesitantly.
“Yes. I’m Jennifer Calloway.”
“This is going to sound strange. But I found your son through the database on DNA+. You know that company that tests your DNA and gives your health information too? I wanted to meet him,” the woman began. “I’m Simone Hodgkin. I’m… your son’s real mother.”
Jennifer’s eyes widened incredulously. “Excuse me. What?”
“I’m so sorry to tell you this, but it’s the truth. I also know that my son, Caleb, is your real son,” Simone revealed further with a kind, bittersweet smile, looking deep into Jennifer’s eyes, trying to make her understand the situation.
“I don’t understand. How dare you say something like that? We’ve never met before!”
“Please, may I come in? I can explain further. It was a surprise to me too, and Caleb didn’t want me to come here. But I had to. I had to do it. I needed to warn your son,” Simone continued, speaking earnestly, although Jennifer had no idea what she was talking about.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying. Warn him about what?” Jennifer asked, more confused now. Why would a stranger come to her house to tell her these crazy things? Was she a con artist?
“I have cancer. I wanted to warn your son about it,” Simone said. “May I please come in to explain?”
Jennifer’s mouth closed at the mention of cancer. Maybe there’s some truth to this woman’s story, she thought and finally agreed to let the woman into her house. She offered Simone some tea, and they sat down to talk, although Jennifer was not thrilled about it and did not want to believe this woman at all.
“Ok, I’ve confused you enough already. But my life has changed so much since my diagnosis. I debated whether to come here and find you. I’m actually from Tampa, Florida. It was a long car trip,” Simone began, sipping her tea slowly and taking off her headscarf, revealing long blonde hair.
“You drove to New Jersey from Tampa? Wow, hmmm. I don’t know what to think.”
May I ask what happened to your son?” Simone inquired cautiously.
“He died after years of battling cancer. You said you also have cancer?” Jennifer asked.
“Yes. I was diagnosed only a few months ago. My son and I got some DNA tests done to determine if he had the gene. We… discovered…,” Simone paused to gather her bearings, “that he’s not my son…my biological son.”
Jennifer could see where this was going. “Are you suggesting that our kids were exchanged at birth? I gave birth in New York!”
“Me too. My boyfriend and I lived there for a long time. But I had the baby, and he abandoned us, so I moved to Florida to be closer to my family. I don’t know exactly what happened at the hospital, but I theorized that it had to be a nurse or some mistake like that,” Simone explained with a sad smile.
“I can’t believe this. How is this happening?” Jennifer asked as tears gathered in her eyes.
“I know. I went through all the stages. But then, we discovered the database on DNA+. Your son’s name matched with me, and you matched with my son. I figured you knew already. But your reaction earlier… well… I guess you didn’t know or didn’t care.”
“I… Chris died before we got those results. I never had the heart to look at them after that,” Jennifer whispered, trying not to cry even more.
“You can check those results and see that I’m not lying to you,” Simone said and took a deep breath. “But well… the database gave us your names, and I don’t know what results you received. I just wanted to warn Chris that he might have the cancer gene. I wanted him to get checked out quickly. But I see that I’m too late.”
How did you find me?”
“My uncle is a cop. I asked him to run your names, and I got this address. I’m so sorry for invading your privacy like that. But it was important to me. I… don’t have that long left. My prognosis is bleak, and the latest treatments are not working as doctors expected,” Simone continued, looking down at the empty cup of tea in her hands sheepishly. “The only bright side is that I still have my hair.”
“Jesus,” Jennifer breathed.
“Yeah, and well, I also hoped to meet him. And you could meet Caleb too. But I understand if it’s too much too soon. I should probably go now. I’ve taken too much of your time,” Simone said and moved to get up, deciding to leave Jennifer to think about everything.
“No. Please, don’t leave. Would you like to see pictures of Chris?” Jennifer blurted unexpectedly, not knowing why she offered such a thing. But now she understood why Simone’s emerald eyes had been so familiar. Those were the same eyes Jennifer had seen in her son all those years. She also knew that the woman was dealing with the same horrible disease that took her
“I would love that, actually,” Simone said with a genuine smile and tears in her eyes. They both smiled at each other, and Jennifer went to find her photo albums. They talked for hours and had dinner together. Simone left to stay at a hotel that night, but they exchanged phone numbers and saw each other again the next day.
This time, Simone brought several pictures of Caleb she had downloaded from her iCloud. Then they planned for Jennifer to meet Caleb, so she flew down to Florida a few weeks later. Eventually, Jennifer checked the DNA company’s website and confirmed everything Simone said, although she already knew it was true.
Simone’s son was displeased that his mother had driven all the way to New Jersey in her condition and for such purposes. But it was already a done deal. He was shocked to hear about Chris’s passing, and he was careful around Jennifer. It was strange meeting a woman who was your supposed real mother when he already had one.
Jennifer only wanted to meet him and offered her support should he ever need it. “I’m not here to replace her. Simone is your mother. But I think you and I have a lot more in common than DNA. Your mother is dealing with the same disease that took my son. If you ever need anything, you can talk to me,” she told him during their first meeting and went back home several days later.
Unfortunately, Simone died a few months after that meeting. Jennifer attended the funeral, reiterated her offer to Caleb, and returned home. The young man started calling her a few times a week afterward, and they eventually formed a great bond. It would never be as close as what each of them had with their loved ones, but talking to each other soothed both their souls.
What can we learn from this story?
DNA test skits have pros and cons. You can discover all kinds of valuable information, but it might also reveal family secrets you might not be ready to learn.
Losing a loved one can bond two people. Jennifer and Caleb would never see each other as mother and son, but they formed a close bond after losing the people they cared about most.