BYRON CENTER, Mich. — Christmas is often a day families come together and for Cheryl Lambert, 40, this Christmas marks the first one she knows and can celebrate with her dad.
Born in Tennessee and raised in Michigan by her mom and stepdad, Lambert grew up not knowing who her biological dad is. It didn’t really bother her until she got a little older.
“At 16 is when I really started trying to get the facts and find out anything, asking family members and actually got ahold of some people my mom went to school with and even wrote Maury at one point in time and just nothing panned out. Nobody knew anything, my mom didn’t tell me anything,” Lambert explained.
More than two decades later, in early 2021 she found out about 23andMe, an at-home DNA test that can help scientifically locate relatives. She took the test, sent it in and shortly after found a half-brother she never knew about.
“My brother and I talked while it started out. We were talking almost every day, we just connected and fit like, no time had gone by,” she explained and soon she connected with their shared dad. Cheryl called him in April.
“Cheryl called me and said she’s my daughter, when she said that I got freaked out, I really freaked out,” explained Paul Winters, Cheryl’s biological father.
Though Paul wasn’t totally shocked, he of course remembered her mom but lost touch with her when she moved. Paul still lives in Clarksville, Tennesee and says his new-found daughter’s call was a blessing to him.
“We started talking, visited each other, she's my family now. And I got seven grandkids and I love every one of them,” Winters said.
For Cheryl, it’s a connection she’s waited 40 years to make and it came just in time for the holidays.
“Twice a week we call each other. He's very family oriented, he calls his sisters every morning and so he just wants that family connection,” Lambert added.
“I’m glad y'all found me and I'm so glad I got a daughter in my life, I got grandkids. I appreciate what Cheryl did to try to find me and I love my daughter to death and her family,” Winters said on a Zoom call.
“We love you too, Dad,” Cheryl responded with her son standing by.
Cheryl says they are planning on meeting in person with each other again soon, after the new year. Her family is even considering a move down to Tennessee.