Glendale man finds siblings on genetic testing site

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BY CAROLYN DRYER, Glendale Star Editor

Photo by Carolyn Dryer

Marty and Tammy Gasiorowski of Glendale have spent months meeting Marty’s newfound relatives after obtaining information on 23andM3. Adopted as an infant, Marty never knew his biological parents.

It has been a tumultuous year for Marty Gasiorowski. He and his wife, Tammy, have traveled through the Internet and across the country, seeking answers about his biological parents.
The couple had originally started their search in 2006, before 23andMe was available, in Utica, N.Y., near Binghamton, where Marty grew up. He said he got a “little information,” but not enough to make calls or further inquiries.
But earlier this year, Marty decided to go on 23andMe, a genetic testing site. It was mainly to obtain medical history in case Marty and Tammy, or their son, Martin James Gasiorowski II, could use it in any future medical issues. What they discovered, however, was more than they could ever had hoped for.
Marty was adopted as a 7-week-old infant in Utica, N.Y., and he said he “never knew much of anything about my birth parents.”
“The parents that adopted me were great,” he said, “and I don’t remember a time where I didn’t know that I was adopted. However, there was always something missing. I never understood why people would want to join the family business, or why siblings would be excited to play on the same sports team or in the same band.”
After high school in Binghamton, N.Y., Marty attended Syracuse University on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, then was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort  Walton Beach, Fla., where he met his wife and where their son was born. After leaving the Air Force, the family moved to Arizona, where they have remained.
Marty’s interest in finding his biological family was prompted by a book he read earlier this year: “A Brief History of Everyone Who  Ever Lived” by Adam Rutherford. The book tells how easy it is to get a DNA  test to learn about one’s ancestry and medical history using internet sites such as 23andMe.
“It piqued my interest,” Marty said, “especially for the medical history that I never knew. I didn’t really expect it to find any of my birth family.”
What a surprise awaited him when he read the report from 23andMe.
“I was amazed that it said, ‘This person is probably your cousin.’  I contacted him through the 23andMe app in April 2018, and learned that he is actually my nephew, Doug.  He lives in Virginia, but he and his family had a vacation planned for May (the very next month after we connected) that included Arizona. Tammy and I drove to Lake Powell and met Doug and his family there.  So, they were the first from our new family that we met. It was so exciting.  Doug looks a lot like our son.”
There was more to come. Doug connected Marty with half-sister Billie, who lives in Louisiana, as does her daughter, Kara, Doug’s sister. Marty told Billie and her family about living in Fort Walton Beach for a time, they said they were going on vacation to Fort Walton Beach in June. So, Marty and Tammy decided they would meet there, and they had a get-together with them and Tammy’s side of the family that lives there.
“We learned that Billie had also grown up in Binghamton and was also adopted by her step-father, although raised by her birth mother,” Marty said.
Billie was a Realtor in years past, and she told him she had listings on the road where his parents lived at one time.
More research followed. Marty and Billie learned they were two of at least eight siblings (one has died), ranging in age from 39 to 78.
“And I now have 16 new nieces and nephews,” Marty said. “I had to put together a spreadsheet to keep track of everyone.”
They learned their father, Clyde Phipps, died in 1996. But he was apparently an excellent jazz keyboard player who played with Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie and others.
“He definitely got around, as he was married four times, and fathered the eight children with six different women,” Marty said. “He was originally from Binghamton, and my two eldest siblings, Dean and Judy, grew up there.
“I connected with my half-sister, Natha, on social media in July 2018 and learned she was visiting in Arizona at that time, so Tammy, Martin and I took a quick trip the next day to meet her. A month later, in August, I had a business trip to North Carolina, where I met another half-sister, Judy.  My nephew, Doug, drove down from Virginia to meet us for dinner as well.  In September, we took a trip to Alaska (where my father lived the last part of his life) to meet my two half-brothers, Dean and George, as well as several nieces and a nephew.  
“The timing was perfect, as Natha was there, as well as Dean’s daughter, Sarah.  We also had the pleasure of meeting Natha’s daughters, Meghan and Christa, and Dean’s son, Mitchell, who all live in Alaska.”
Marty has one more half-sister, Debbie, in Louisiana, who he has not met.
“I hope to meet her early in 2019,” Marty said. “We are also planning a big family reunion in 2019, where, hopefully, everyone can get together in the same place.”
But there’s more.
“All of this so far is on my father’s side of the family. I hadn’t learned anything about my mother’s side of the family, so I submitted my DNA sample to ancestry.com,” Marty said.
A potential close relative in Vermont was cited in the report Marty received. He contacted the person and learned he was Uncle Pat, Marty’s mother’s younger brother, and he had three children. Unfortunately, he also learned his birth mother, Marianne, died at the age of 30, when Marty was 9 years old. Another uncle was also deceased, but he had two children.
On a business trip to Montreal in October, Marty and Tammy took a side trip to Vermont, where they met Uncle Pat, Aunt Florence, a cousin, Brian, and his family.
“I hope to meet my other new cousins in the near future,” Marty said. “It has been life-changing learning about and getting to know this big ‘new’ family and recognizing similar family traits. I definitely feel more complete and feel a great connection to my newly found family.”
Marty knows of other people who have gone on 23andMe, who have had different experiences; some not so pleasant. Marty said one of the people he worked with found out his biological father was his parents’ next door neighbor.  He said other adopted friends have told him they don’t want to know their biological parents.
But, as Marty said, in the words of a country song, “Life Changes,” and he and Tammy have adopted those words as their motto.
They have their Glendale home up for sale now, and they’re moving back to the Fort Walton area to be close to Tammy’s family. Their son is attending a graduate school in Kent, England, and strangely enough, Marty and Tammy have no family in Arizona. But, they’re everywhere else.

 

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