A daughter’s journey: DNA test helps unite lost family members

Family United
Family United

Special to The Dallas Examiner

For the past 38 years, Monique Stone has been on an amazing personal journey to find two people in her life that she never got a chance to know: her birth parents.

Stone, whose birth name is Ulrike Elisabeth, was born in Germany in 1958 to a young German girl and an African American Army soldier during the Berlin Crisis.

After Stone’s mother became pregnant, her parents took her to St. Annaheim in Mannheim, a home for unwed pregnant girls. Stone’s mother, unable to return to her parents’ home with a baby, unwillingly gave her to the orphanage.

Sergeant Stone, an Air Force soldier, and his wife, adopted her 18 months later and changed her name. It was then that she was introduced to the 6-year-old German-African American boy the Stone’s adopted a year earlier.

In 1980, Stone, now 21 and expecting her first child, began to develop the urge to find her birth parents. She had her German adoption contract and birth certificate translated, yet it revealed very little. It stated that her mother’s name was Hannalore Rosinke, but there was no mention of her mother’s address or father’s name.

Over the next 10 years, all of her written requests to the German courts, St. Annaheim and the state orphanage to obtain any information pertaining to her mother was denied. Then one day, Stone was thumbing through a box of family photos. Suddenly, she came across a picture of her adoptive brother, who was previously stationed in Germany, pointing at the American Embassy sign on its building.

Stone took the photo of her brother as a sign and called to ask the U.S. Consulate in Germany for help. The consul was touched by her story and agreed to see what he could find. A few weeks later, the consul called Stone to let her know he had found her birth mother.

Amidst the tearful conversation that had to be interpreted in 1992, Stone learned that she had six younger half brothers and sisters. Her mother told the interpreter that Stone’s father was an Army soldier from the United States.

Before he left on his last mission, he promised he was coming back to them but never returned. He was killed in the war, according to Rosinke.

Stone’s mother asked her to visit her in Germany and promised that once they met face to face she would answer all of her questions privately.

Stone was extremely excited about their trip to her homeland and about meeting her mother and siblings in person. She was especially excited about speaking with her mother to finally learn her father’s name and to get a glimpse of the man he was.

But Rosinke died before Stone arrived, taking what she was going to tell Stone about her father to the grave. Depression sunk in as the reality of finding her father seemed officially over. And so, Stone moved on with her life and focused on her remodeling business and raising her children.

Then one night, Stone had a troubling dream. She heard her mother’s voice repeating what she had told her over the phone years earlier: Before he left on his last mission, he promised he was coming back to them but never returned. He was killed in the war.

Stone awoke from the dream and began to wonder: What if he hadn’t been killed in the war? What if he didn’t return because he didn’t want to see them again? What if her mother just made up the story to make her feel better about him and being placed for adoption? What if he didn’t even know of her existence? Or, what if he survived and wasn’t able to get back to them? Stone’s mother presumed him dead, but had he really been killed?

Even if it were true that her father was deceased, he could have brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles still living, Stone surmised. Maybe his parents are still alive or maybe he could have had children before he left the states.

However, without a name to go on, Stone knew it would be next to impossible to find her biological father. Unwilling to give up, Stone visited her local Veterans Administration occasionally over the span of 22 years and spoke to every veteran she came across. In hopes that they or someone they knew were stationed in Aschaffenburg in 1957 and knew her father.

Fast forward to the spring of 2018, 60-year-old Stone and her two children, now 37 and 25, embarked on a family DNA-testing journey. At the time, Stone didn’t have much faith in or knowledge of the capability of the relative finding tool. Stone knew it would reveal the obvious: her European and African roots.

It was the percentage of her ethnicity and pertinent health factors that she expected to find the most interesting. But, when Stone received and read her report that summer, she instantly found 1034 relatives in the U.S. alone who shared the same DNA with her.

Overwhelmed and excited, she reached out to the top 60 relatives with the highest percentage of shared DNA and sent them all a standard message through the 23andMe DNA testing site.

“Hello, my name is Monique and I’m looking for my African American father who served in the Army and was stationed in Aschaffenburg, Germany, in 1957,” she wrote.

Within hours, message after message came pouring in. Two messages in particular came in from her first and second cousin, who happened to be mother and daughter. Both cousins responded that the person she was looking for could only be their older cousin. He was the only male in the military at that time, but unfortunately he had died some years before.

Nevertheless, her first cousin insisted that Stone call his sister for confirmation. She also told Stone that all of her family were born and raised in Texas and that the majority of the family still live in the state, specifically in Austin, Lockhart, Houston and in Stone’s current city of residence for the past 38 years, Dallas.

Stunned, Stone immediately called the phone number her cousin provided. After a long phone conversation and confirmation as to her brother’s military tour of duty in Germany, Stone’s presumed aunt agreed to meet that weekend and take the same DNA test.

Six weeks later, the test results came back reporting a higher percentage of shared DNA than even her first cousin. The woman presumed to be Stone’s aunt was confirmed and her deceased brother Eugene Treadwell was confirmed as her father.

Treadwell, who lived in Houston for many years, had a prominent long-standing career as a skilled remodeling contractor and ship channel welder. He attended Prairie View College for two years before being drafted into the Army in 1955.

In 1958, on a military mission, Stone’s father was critically shot. He lay in the freezing snow unable to move, drifting in an out of consciousness for three days before he was found and airlifted back to the United States.

Seemingly, Stone’s mother had not made up that story for Stone’s benefit. She presumed him dead after he failed to return to them. Months after his recovery and back on Texas soil, her father married and became the loving father of eight more children. Stone was now the eldest of 15 half sisters and brothers. In addition, Stone found siblings, an uncle and three aunts that were still living, along with a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.

To Stone’s surprise, her new family gave her more than a glimpse of who her father was. Beyond filling in the years with captivating photos of his military and civilian life, his children exhibited in the flesh their father’s trademark smile, personality and good looks. And everyone summed up the essence of who he was in nine little words: “He was a good man and an awesome father.”

Eugene lived to the ripe young age of 73. He died in 2007. To Stone’s amazement, her father did know of her existence. Her new family admitted that her dad spoke of her on many occasions throughout the years. He just didn’t know how to find her. Maybe he was hoping she would find him.

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