Father, daughter who found each other through DNA test celebrating first Christmas together

The holidays this year at the Mackey house in Lindenhurst come with the celebration of a gift no one imagined.

Angela McGowan will head north from her home in Naperville to be with Tim Mackey, the father she had been looking for most of her life. Mackey and his family will welcome the 34-year-old daughter he didn’t know he had until this year.

While presents will be exchanged, the pair who connected on March 1 through commercial DNA testing say they’ve already received the gift of a lifetime.

For McGowan, it literally was the end of a journey and dream come true. For Mackey, it was a shocking revelation that triggered waves of emotions and questions.

Finding each other was meant to be, they say, and they’ll be involved in each other’s lives for the duration.

“I don’t remember being this happy,” McGowan says. “It was comfortable since the beginning.”

McGowan was adopted as an infant, and the only father she knew died when she was 4 years old. She had been looking for her biological father for years, but it was Mackey who found her.



The story begins in the late 1980s, when Mackey went to pick up his girlfriend at her house but was turned away by her father. At the time, she was 17, and he was 19, and they had been dating for about a year.

“I had always wondered why her dad asked me to leave her porch and never come around again,” he said.

What no one told him, Mackey said, was that his girlfriend was pregnant. Only after connecting with his daughter did he learn that she was sent away to a special school to have the baby.

McGowen, who was born in 1988, said her birth mother left a letter to open when she was 18 if she wanted to find her. They eventually met, but there was a distance, according to McGowan.

When she asked about her biological father, McGowan said her mother first told her he wasn’t worth finding. Later, she was told that he had died.



“In my heart, I felt she was lying, and that’s why I never gave up,” McGowan said.

Several years ago, McGowan learned of the 23andMe DNA testing kit and, at her adoptive mother’s suggestion, entered her information. And waited.

Meanwhile, Mackey and his wife, Nicole, settled in Lindenhurst in 1998 and had three children. Having had some health issues and wanting more information, Mackey for Christmas 2021 asked for and received a 23andMe kit.

He said he’d seen several commercials for the product and thought it would be “pretty cool” to find out more about his ancestral background.

Figuring he’d learn about cousins or distant relatives, Mackey instead was floored when he received a 23andMe report on March 1 identifying Angela McGowan as his daughter.

“I sincerely thought, ‘This is impossible,'” he said.

Using a feature on the 23andMe online platform that allows customers to find others with whom they share DNA, he hit the “connect” tab to allow Angela to see who he was. He received a nearly immediate response.

“She said, ‘Hi, Dad,’ and I was on my knees after 10 minutes of crying,” Mackey said.

They arranged to meet the next day in Naperville, where McGowan is staying with her adoptive mother.

“If you know us, our personalities, we’re not waiting on something like that. We want to know,” Mackey said.

He brought a bouquet and an “It’s a girl” greeting card to the meeting. McGowan said she had an instant connection with her biological dad.

“The conversation the first time was so comfortable,” she said. “Now we’re doing things that dads and daughters do.”

Mackey teared up recently while recounting the story.

“The reason I get emotional is because I didn’t know,” he said.

The bond is evident as father and daughter tell their story at the kitchen table in Lindenhurst. They visit two or three times a week and say they have a lot in common, including anxiety, a love of pizza and Diet Coke, sarcastic humor and a need to be organized.

Mackey also learned he has a 15-year-old grandson, who will be sharing the holiday in Lindenhurst.

There has been a learning curve for the respective families, but everyone has been accepting and supportive.

Why share this very personal story publicly?

“We wanted to tell our story to make people happy, that there is good,” Mackey said. “It’s incredible.”


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