Unbelievable: 50-Year-Old Mystery Solved with Home DNA Test

It’s a heartwarming story that has been brought to life thanks to the power of DNA testing and a family’s never-ending search for a missing child. After more than 50 years of searching, a Texas woman named Melissa Highsmith, who had been kidnapped as a baby in 1971, has been reunited with her family members.

The incredible story began when Highsmith’s mother, Alta Apantenco, placed an ad in a local newspaper in order to find a babysitter for her 22-month-old daughter. After a woman answered the ad, Apantenco hired her without meeting her first. Sadly, the woman allegedly took Apantenco’s daughter and never returned.

For the next five decades, Apantenco, her husband, Jeffrie Highsmith, and her family members searched for the missing child, even turning to social media in the digital age by creating a Facebook page called “Finding Melissa.”

After a recommendation from a genealogist, the family decided to use the home DNA testing kits Ancestry and 23andMe in an effort to track down Highsmith. The idea worked: A promising DNA match turned up on 23andMe.

Within three weeks, the Highsmiths were reunited with their long-lost daughter, now 53. Family members shared a jubilant post about the reunion on the Facebook page, which has since been renamed “We Found Melissa.”

“I couldn’t stop crying. I was overjoyed and I’m still walking around in a fog trying to comprehend that my sister is right in front of me and that we found her,” Victoria Highsmith, the sister of Melissa said. “It’s a Christmas miracle! It’s amazing meeting her. It was like looking into myself; she looks like me, like us. She’s overjoyed to be in our lives.”

According to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, Melissa Highsmith, who grew up believing her name was Melanie, lived most of her life in Fort Worth and had no idea she had been kidnapped.

The Fort Worth Police Department has stated that officers were “overjoyed to hear about how the Highsmith’s use of 23andme led them to Melissa” and that they will be conducting official DNA testing to confirm Melissa’s identity.



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