Words cannot describe what it feels like to have a missing puzzle piece of genetic history your entire life. And to have an instant lineage of family overnight is so overwhelmingly beautiful. I've waited my entire life for the moment of finding my mom's side of the family.

The holidays are approaching and for eleven years, I have been actively searching for my mom's mother and relatives. I know my family is not immune to decisions that impact generations to come. And without getting into details, I can share an overview.

When my mother was young, her mom (my grandmother) had to make some tough decisions. She left the kids in what she believed would be in safe hands. She went on to have another family. When I was young something similar happened to my siblings and I. We didn't know and never met my moms side of the family.

By the time 2005 came around, I was in contact with my mom and building a relationship. Her father passed away and we were finally able to obtain my moms birth certificate and the full name/spelling of her mothers name. I remember watching the movie "An American Tale" as a kid and crying over this song. I wanted to know who my family was so badly.

As soon as we got back from the funeral, I started the search. I spent 72 hours straight browsing and searching the Internet. I found an obituary on my great-grandmother and that's when I discovered that my grandmother had passed away years prior but there were no other leads popping up. I was devastated to know that not only would my mom never meet her mom, but that we'd never meet or know our grandmother.

I kept searching intermittently for years. Each time I came up with a dead end search.

On Monday night, something inside me told me to search again. Maybe it's the holidays approaching. I felt a strong desire to look again. I went to ancestry.com and started plugging in info. I pulled up my working research document with everything I had found thus far. Eleven years certainly made some progress on the Internet search engines! I ended up finding potential relatives names. On a whim and listening to my gut instinct again, I searched those names on Facebook. I found what I believed to be a cousin. I sent her a message. I looked at her friends list and my heart started beating faster when I saw someone's name. She had my grandmothers middle name (I have the same middle name) and my grandmothers married last name. My gut told me that this woman was closely related to me. I looked at her pictures. Her hair looked like mine. Her facial structure looked like mine. Her kindness she exuded looked like mine.

I sent her a message very late in the evening. I kept searching for other leads. At some point, I could barely keep my eyes open even though I wanted to stay up and continue the search. I went to bed knowing that my alarm would be going off in a few hours. When I woke up, I quickly grabbed my phone anxiously to see if I had heard back from anyone. I had received a message back from one of the woman I had messaged. She said "...your grandmother was my mother" and she asked me to call her as soon as possible.

My hands shook as I dialed her number. She answered right away. When I heard her voice and she confirmed she was my aunt - I cried. It was hard not to talk over each other as we shared information and asked questions.

I found out that I didn't have just one aunt. I had several. And an Uncle. And lots of cousins!!

Danielle Teal/TSM
Left to right: my grandmother and my mom

There are no words to express what it means to find the people that are supposed to be a part of your life. It's been a crazy incredible week of connecting, finding out more information, sharing pictures and making plans to meet each other. Here's a photo of my grandmother and my mom. The resemblance is uncanny, isn't it?

The connection a family has is truly remarkable. No matter what, generations to come - somehow we always find our way back. There will be lots of healing for our entire family and I'm fully ready - my heart is so ready.

The holidays are going to be much sweeter - this has been a Christmas miracle for my family. It's never too late to discover a part of your history and to make it better for generations to come.

Have you found lost family members or have a family member you'd like to search for? I want to hear your story. Send me an email at Danielle.Teal@townsquaremedia.com.

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