A teacher in Richmond, Virginia, who always knew that she was adopted, had been trying to find her birth parents for 50 years. When she was finally reunited with her mom, little did she know more surprises awaited in the following weeks to come, making her “feel so whole and complete.”
Bonnie Davis, an English teacher at Armstrong High School, had always wanted to find her biological mother, but to little success. Davis only knew that her birth name was LaTonya Tandelet Dean, and she was given up for adoption when her mother, Sheila Dean, was 15.
“It seemed impossible to find my mother,” Davis told Richmond Free Press. “I could not find anyone who knew my mother in that area. You know, women change their names when they marry, and people move. So I had sort of given up.”
Fortunately, Davis happened to see an offer on TV from a company that does DNA testing at a low cost.
“I got a text saying my DNA results were back. It listed 312 possibilities that might be first to fourth cousins,” she said to WTVR.
She contacted some of the cousins, and one told her, “I think I know who your mother is.”
After receiving her mother’s contact information, Davis contacted her. “I didn’t know if she wanted to see me,” she told Richmond Free Press. “I called and left a message to let her know who I was and that it was alright if she didn’t call back.”
Davis, a church musician and creative writer, had finished playing the keyboard for the Sept. 24 service when she noticed she had missed a call, and called back—her mother answered.
“My knees got so weak I couldn’t stand up,” she said. “My mind was in a whirl. I could barely speak.”
Within two hours, Davis and her fiancé were on the road and heading toward South Carolina to see her mother. After a six-hour journey, Davis was finally able to meet her mother and her brother, Cortney Leonard.
“I had never stopped thinking about her. I always wanted to find her,” her mother, Sheila Dean Richardson, said.
Being able to find her mother, Davis said: “It was glorious. I know other people are searching for their families, and I want to tell them, ‘Never give up.’”
However, the surprise didn’t end there. Davis, who’s now changed her name back to her birth name, asked her mother about her birth father.
Richardson, who was a rape victim, told Davis that her dad had passed away. Little did both of them know that Davis’s birth father was Richardson’s first boyfriend, John Bowling.
It was when one of Davis’s aunts looked at her photo and saw a resemblance to Bowling and Richardson that she put her in contact with her father, who was still alive.
Bowling, a retired Chicago police officer, was overjoyed to hear from Richardson, and agreed to take a DNA test to determine if Davis was his biological child.
When the results came on Nov. 9, Davis recalled she “almost dropped to the floor.”
“It’s just unbelievable, I’m so excited. Just thank God it’s a blessing from God,” Bowling told WTVR.
Davis said: “In a matter of less than 90 days, I’ve gone from me and my 3 children to me, mom, grandma, dad, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles. To have my blood family just love me and accept me no questions asked after 50 years… I don’t even know how to process that.”
One could say that Davis, whose adopted parents have passed away, was overwhelmed with finally reuniting with her whole family, including some 100 cousins.
“To find mommy was beautiful enough but to find daddy and know I have all of these siblings. I feel so whole and complete,” she added.