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DNA Test Leads Woman To Unite With Relative She Never Knew She Had—4,500 Miles Away

A former social worker has been united with a cousin she never knew existed, living nearly 4,500 miles away, thanks to a DNA testing kit.

After tracing her family tree for over two decades, Susan Carran-Stout, 69, of Port Gordon, Aberdeenshire, had already found another cousin, Robert Burns, 70, in Peterfields, Hampshire, five years ago – following over 30 years without contact – so discovering her far flung relative Valerie Frost, 79, halfway across the globe in Vancouver, Canada, was the icing on the cake.

Since finding Valerie in 2018, the three cousins got to know each other through emails, phone and Skype calls, but last month they had their first family reunion in London, which Susan, a former social worker, described saying: “It was one of the most exciting and thrilling moments of my entire life."


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She continued: “One minute I was shaking and laughing, the next I thought I might faint. But as soon as we hugged and met, I felt a sense of completion."

Mum-of-two Susan found Valerie after completing an DNA kit – one of 4.7 million Brits who have used one, according to Ancestry DNA, who say 60 per cent of the population are interested in taking a test in the future.

In Susan's case it led to Valerie's son, Robert Frost, 58, contacting her through the Ancestry genealogy website, claiming they might be related.


PA Real Life/Collect

Then, in 2008, when Susan's mother Mary, 81, passed away, she came across a collection of old photographs.

“I couldn't believe it when I was sorting through all my mother's belongings and came across that very same photo," she said. “I wasn't a 20-year-old girl this time around though, I had the tools to try and track her down."

Despite her best efforts, Susan could not uncover Valerie's relationship to her family and assumed she had passed away. But that all changed after she discovered DNA testing.

Susan said: “I saw the DNA testing kit advertised for £79.99 on Ancestry and just knew I had to give it a go.

“The kit arrived, I spat in a tube, sent it back in the post and within a couple of months I was finding out things about my family history I could never have imagined."

And her journey reached a climax when Valerie's son, Robert, got in touch.

Susan explained: “I received a message through Ancestry saying, 'I think you may be related to my mother – her name is 'Valerie.' I couldn't believe it, I felt like I'd been looking for Valerie forever, now here she was.

“After swapping contacts it soon became clear Valerie had no clue about her extended family here in the UK."

Susan soon discovered that Valerie had recently lost her husband, Brian, 78, and “thought she was alone in the world."


After discovering Valerie would be in London to see an old classmate who had moved there, Susan and her cousin Robert seized the opportunity to meet her.

Susan said: “At first we wanted it to be a big surprise for Valerie, but after some further thought we were concerned that the shock might be a bit too much."


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Susan, Robert and Sheena, along with their daughter Natalie, 37, a teacher, waited to meet Valerie off her train.

Robert said: “I was worried that we'd miss her, but I needn't have been. I knew as soon as she stepped off the train it was her – she looked just like my mum."

The trio then spent the day making up for lost time, catching up at a local French restaurant, before bridging the gaps on both sides of the family tree in the hotel bar.

Valerie said: “When I got married, my husband had eight brothers and sisters – so that was my family. I feel like God took my husband but gave me my family, so what more could I want?"

Now the cousins are determined to “forge a family bond" that runs deeper than just blood.

Robert explained: “Obviously it's easy to get carried away, but realistically we have to take things slowly. This is a big shock for our family – on both sides of the Atlantic – and we need to let the relationships grow naturally.

“But I'm sure it will as, until five years ago, I hadn't seen Susan since a family wedding over 30 years earlier, then my daughter got in to Ancestry and suddenly we were back in touch. It really has made it a brilliant time to be alive."


PA Real Life/Collect

And Robert and Susan are now determined to visit Valerie in Vancouver later this year.

A great advocate of Ancestry DNA tests, Susan said: “If there are gaps in your family, if there are mysteries, you can find out the answers and complete your family.

“You're not alone in this world… and doing this can prove it."

Since the start of 2018 over 4 million messages have been sent through Ancestry's platform. To find out more about your family history, visit www.ancestry.co.uk


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