A 66-year-old woman has finally reunited with her biological family after they believed she was dead.
Sylvia Kewer was adopted as a toddler, and grew up in Emporia, Virginia. A self-described loner, Kewer believed she was an only child.
It wouldn't be until this past August when the retired government worker discovered she had four maternal half-siblings, after her 46-year-old daughter, Natalie Graves Tucker, convinced her to submit a DNA test on Ancestry.com.
"[My mother] was saying her whole life she didn’t know what she was. She kept saying, 'What am I?'" Tucker told PEOPLE.
"Here she is thinking she’s alone all these years and doesn’t know her story … She’s always been a loner and here she has four siblings with children and grandchildren!" she added.
Kewer was born Dorothy Mae Goode on Dec. 12, 1950 in Buchanan County, Virginia. Her parents waited until Kewer was a teenager to tell her she was adopted. Little was known about Kewer's birth mother, aside from the fact she was unwed, ABC News reports.
"All they could tell me about her was that she was not married," she said.
Kewer would later find out her birth mother, Leona Holmes Duff Goode Lambert, had given birth to four other children.
When Kewer eventually received her Ancestry.com test results, the genealogy company noted there was another person who had been given one very similar. This individual had an "extremely high match" of being related, encouraging Kewer and her daughter to reach out.
When Billy Ray's son took his test results, he was incredulous when he read the email indicating he had an unknown relative. However, 63-year-old Ray thought the message was describing his long-lost sister, who he had thought was dead.
After the family was united, Tucker began to organize a family reunion, which would be attended by Kewer and Ray's other siblings, Nancy Goode-O'Donnell, 69, Ralph Duff, and Curtis Duff, 72, along with countless other extended family members which the mother-daughter duo had never met before.
“It was a culmination of pictures and conversations and emails that we’ve had with the family over the past few months. It was exciting,” Tucker said. “They just opened their arms with love and so it couldn’t have happened any better. I couldn’t have planned it any better.”
On Nov. 11 the family came together, where they had an old-fashioned cookout, and exchanged old photographs.
"I was just so happy to be by myself then to find out I have all these relatives," she said. "I finally know where I came from."
With the newfound knowledge of her siblings, Tucker said her mother plans on making sure she is an active part of their lives.
“There is talk about having another get together next year in the spring or the summer,” Tucker said. “Everybody wants to get together next year.”
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