FALLON, Nev. (AP) — A Utah woman has published a book about a three-decade search for her family roots that culminated in Nevada this week with a meeting with a half-brother and half-sister she never knew she had.
Perline Porter of Ogden said she had always wondered who her biological father was because she had a baby book "with a different guy's name on it."
Throughout her childhood, Porter said her mother had denied she had another dad but finally fessed up when she was 17 years old.
"That's when I started searching, way back then," said Porter, whose book is titled "My DNA Search for My Roots."
"When you don't know who your other half is, you're just missing something," she told KTVN-TV in Reno.
In recent years she joined websites specializing in DNA information, which led her to Dr. Kathryn Johnston, a genetic genealogist who helped her with the search.
"They were able to work their way to a first cousin, and then a half-sibling," Johnston said. "That's how they were actually able to identify a half-brother."
It wasn't easy given his common name, John Collins Jr., and the fact he lives in the sprawling San Diego area.
"After calling, like, 50 numbers, getting discouraged, I'm just like, 'oh, this is not going to work,'" Porter said.
But eventually she found herself on the phone with him and ultimately he agreed to take a DNA test.
"She started asking me a bunch of questions," Collins recalled. "I'm like, 'yeah... okay... uh huh... Who are you?"
He took the DNA test in March, which came back positive, and when they met for the first time, both could tell they were related.
Collins traveled to Utah this week to pick up Porter to meet his sister, Carey Collins, in Fallon, about 60 miles east of Reno.
They were able to work their way to a first cousin, and then a half- sibling. That's how they were actually able to identify a half-brother.
–Dr. Kathryn Johnston
"When the DNA results came back positive, I was elated," Carey Collins said. "I've been so excited for this, I can't believe it.
"I'm so happy I have a sister because I was raised with my cousin. But she wasn't my sister, you know what I mean?" she added.
The three sat down and shared family photos while John and Carey Collins filled Porter in on their family history.
"I was telling stories, and they would look at each other and go, 'Wow, that's something dad would say or do,'" Porter said.
Their father passed away a number of years ago, but both John and Carey Collins agreed he was the type of man who would have wanted to be included in Porter's life if he had known.
"I don't think he knew at all because he wasn't that kind of person where he would've abandoned a child, or not help raise it if he would've known," John Collins said.
Johnston finds it amazing that a simple medical test can help someone find long-lost family members.
"A few years ago, we would have never have been able to figure this out without DNA," she said.
Information from: KTVN-TV, http://www.ktnv.com (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)