Tricia Hedgecock just had a birthday. On Nov. 23, she turned 34. This birthday, though, was different from the 33 that preceded it. Earlier this year, the young Warwick mom took a DNA test that has since changed her life.
The back story
Hedgecock was born in November 1986 in New Jersey and adopted three months later by Jim and Judy Hedgecock. The young family, which also included older sister, Jamie, moved from West Milford, N.J., to Warwick, N.Y., in July 1987 and began what Hedgecock said was a “beautiful life.”
As she got older, Hedgecock said she became curious about her birth parents. She wondered who she looked like or if either of them had crazy toes like she does. She wondered what their story was.
Married and with two daughters of her own, she decided to find out.
Searching for her history
About four years ago, she decided to act on her curiosities, if for no other reason but to have some information about her health history. She did an Ancestry test and had a direct match with her biological mother and grandfather. However, they never responded to her contact.
“They were an Italian Catholic family and I had heard that her father was the driving force behind the adoption,” said Hedgecock. “I didn’t pry. They didn’t want any contact. She gave me the opportunity to have such a wonderful life. There are no negative feelings toward her.”
She did learn a few things about her health history and that she has a sister and brother from her biological mother.
It was enough for then.
“I have a wonderful life and she deserves the same.”
It was complicated
Fast forward four years. It’s the spring of 2020. A pandemic has spread across the world and is raging throughout the country. Hedgecock saw that 23andMe was running a promotion that included health information so she decided to give it a try.
“I had a direct match with my biological father and his mother!” said Hedgecock.
She contacted him via email, as she had her biological mother four years before. This time, though, she got a response.
And then some.
“My father over compensated!” she said. “They are wonderful!”
Her biological father lives in Hawaii, is married and has a four-year-old daughter. He was originally from New Jersey but moved around quite a bit as an adult. He works in the film industry but didn’t want to raise his daughter in Hollywood so they moved to Hawaii and he commutes for jobs.
He never knew about her. He never knew about the pregnancy. As these things usually are, it was complicated. They were around 20, and the girl had a boyfriend away at college. That is who she listed as the father of the baby. But that is not who her father was.
Surprise of a lifetime
Hedgecock was thrilled to learn about Jason, her biological father, and for him to be so open to getting to know her and her family. He was just as thrilled as she was. They Facetime and talk on the phone often. Jason and his wife sent her a Hawaiian care package. They email a lot. She had planned to go to Hawaii in October to meet them but postponed the trip because of the pandemic. She is hoping to go in the spring. She also hopes to meet her grandmother, too.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” she said.
And she did get some answers. Guess who has crazy toes like her?
That’s right, Jason does.
And they put their baby pictures side by side and they look very much alike - they have the same baby nose - although not anymore. Jason’s wife said their mannerisms are very similar.
Encouragement, support and happiness
Hedgecock’s sister Jamie has been moved to discover her history as well. Also adopted, Jamie was never as curious about her birth parents as Hedgecock was.
After the outcome four years, though, Jamie didn’t think much of pursuing her own search. However, now that Hedgecock has found her birth father and the joy it has brought her, her sister has started the process.
Hedgecock’s parents, who now live in Florida, have always been very supportive of her search.
“My mom and dad have always been very supportive of everything I’ve done,” said Hedgecock. “They always knew I’d go looking because I always asked questions. They are thrilled I found some answers.”
Hedgecock wanted to share her story because it really is a feel-good story, she said. And she wants to encourage others to do the same if they’ve been thinking about it.
“I want to inspire others who are thinking about finding out about their history,” she said. “And we can all use a feel-good story right now.”
Ironically, there was no extra medical information discovered through the 23andMe testing.
“I went into 23andMe wanting health information,” said Hedgecock. “I didn’t get anything new regarding my health history but I got so much more.”