Canton resident Bryan McGunnigle knew he was adopted.
When he received a DNA test this Christmas, he was looking forward to learning more about his heritage, but he didn’t want to get his hopes up about finding members of his biological family.
“The letter is a letter that my biological mother wrote when March 8, 1983. It’s just love that’s all it is," at his home Saturday, McGunnigle told only NBC Connecticut that this letter has always been one of his most important possessions. A letter written to him when he was a baby by the young woman who gave him up for adoption.
“I know mom’s handwriting in and out and once I saw that letter that’s 100-percent her handwriting and that’s who she was as well,” said Alyssa Grimshaw, of Florida.
Saturday, Bryan met his birth mother’s daughter Alyssa for the first time.
They found each other after Bryan took a consumer DNA test.
"It was incredible. It was intense because it was kind of one of those things where I actually did always want a younger sister," said McGunnigle.
Alyssa Grimshaw is visiting her newfound half-brother from Florida.
She says although their mother passed away over two and years ago, she had told her Bryan existed. “I just kind of lost hope because I figured if he wanted to find us he probably would have at this point.”
She says when Bryan finally found her it was a blessing.
"I think it’s really good. It’s a new family member for us and it’s a really happy time and I think it’s also a piece of mom that we have now too.”
Despite the distance, Bryan and Alyssa plan to see each other at least once a year.
“It’s just crazy because it completely flips your world upside down, but it doesn’t at the same time it just adds to it. So it was awesome,” he said.
Not all DNA discoveries play out as positively as this.
Earlier this week, we shared the story of an Enfield man whose DNA test results were life-changing.
We reached out to DNA test giants AncestryDNA and 23andMe for their take on customer's surprising findings.
A spokesperson for AncestryDNA said almost everyone who takes one of their tests finds something surprising. They say they have a group of dedicated, highly experienced representatives who are available to speak to customers with complex discoveries.
23andMe said they do too. They said they specifically warn customers that taking the test can result in “unexpected, and sometimes life-changing, results…"