Josephine Jones never wanted to give up custody of her daughter Tracy. However, having a child with special needs was too much for the young mother to handle. Forty-nine years ago the Brooklyn-based teen made a tough decision to leave the rearing of her baby girl, born with cerebral palsy, in the hands of someone who could give her the proper care and attention she needed.
For years Josephine wondered what happened to her daughter and earlier this year she got the answer to her question. Thanks to DNA testing service 23andMe, Tracy and Josephine reunited and recently celebrated their first Mother’s Day together.
The story of what brought them together is one they’ll find joy in telling for years to come. Josephine’s niece Nicole Jones, who currently resides in North Carolina, took the test first and opted to be contacted if the site found a familial match. At the time she was hoping to simply get answers on her ancestral makeup. Five years later, she got a lot more than that.
“I didn't really think there would be anything from it,” Nicole explained during a recent Mother’s Day brunch hosted by the genotyping service. “Then in December, that's when Chelsea went ahead and she got her 23andMe kit, and then she reached out to me in January based on her test results.”
Chelsea Addotey is Tracy’s daughter, and as the 23andMe test revealed, she was also Nicole’s cousin.
“She was just telling me that she was trying to find out some info about her mom's biological mother and I told her that I'd give her any info if it could help,” Nicole recalls of her first exchange with her newfound cousin. Chelsea had tried for years to find her maternal grandmother using social media sites like Facebook, but her search, up until that point, had proved unsuccessful.
“I always would go on Facebook cause I know everyone's on Facebook now. So I would put in her name, but I always thought it was Jennifer, so I was looking up Jennifer Jones.”
A quick search of the name “Jennifer Jones” in Brooklyn brings up roughly 500 matches on whitepages.com and an equally exhausting list on the social media site known for bringing old classmates, friends, and family together. So for Tracy, hearing that her daughter could have potentially found her mother, felt somewhat surreal.
“All I knew is that she was very young,” Tracy says of the knowledge she had regarding her birth mother. “I was born with cerebral palsy, and because she was very young, she was too young to be able to take care of me. Her name was Josephine Jones. My last name was Jones. I used Jones until about eight years old when my adopted family changed my name.”
Since this divine intervention brought them together, Tracy has been spending a lot of time learning more about the woman who remained a mystery for years. They chat on the phone when Tracey is en route to work and have met on a number of occasions. As it turns out, Tracy lives in Connecticut, just a couple hours away from her birthplace in Brooklyn.
At the pre-Mother’s Day brunch, Josephine was joined by her sister Toni who tearfully recalled how her sister often worried and wondered about the daughter she gave up as a teen. “I’m just really happy for her,” Toni says of the reunion.
In the few months of getting acquainted, the ladies have found that they are both left-handed, both have a tendency to be hot, and both enjoy a healthy amount of television. They’re also the oldest siblings and “have a lot of the same happy, giggly personality,” Tracy told us with a co-sign from Josephine.
As their bond continues to grow it's clear they have a lot to look forward to. On Tracy’s agenda: “Spending more time getting to know each other. It’s time we made up for them 49 years.”