Woman Meets Biological Son She Never Knew Existed — All Thanks to DNA Test: 'Instant Love'

·6 min read

One Indianapolis woman's journey to find her family ended up connecting her with a son she never knew existed.

In the fall of 2019, while searching for her biological dad, Kristin Schoonveld took a 23andMe DNA test and was stunned when she opened the test results and saw a match that said "son."

"I was thinking it must be some sort of mistake," Kristin, who has never been pregnant, tells PEOPLE.

But then she clicked on the profile and was struck by the fact that "he looked like me," she recalls.

As she kept reading, Kristin, 52, learned that he was conceived via in vitro fertilization and was looking for his biological mother. This changed her feelings, as she had donated her eggs in 1994, thinking it would be nice to help someone have a family.

So Kristin sent him a message, and after talking and texting, they met in person shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"It was just instant love," she says of meeting the biological son.

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Decades earlier, Kristin made another quick bond with a young boy, whom she went on to adopt years later.

Thirty years ago, Kristin — who has devoted her life to working with people with special needs — met a 9-year-old with Down syndrome, Nick Schoonveld, when she took a semester off from college and worked in his second grade special education classroom.

"He and I were drawn to each other from the start," Kristin says. "We had a really really close relationship and we loved each other."

After losing touch, they reconnected in June 2012, when Kristin ran into Nick and his mother as she started volunteering with the Special Olympics.

Not long afterward, Nick's mother, Grace, was diagnosed with non-smoker's lung cancer. When his mother was sick, Kristin started spending more time with Nick, picking him up and taking him with her wherever she went.

"Every time I'd pull up in his driveway, he'd ask me, 'What are we doing tomorrow?'" she remembers. "I just kept picking him up the next day."

KRISTIN SCHOONVELD with adopted son Nick, and Nicks biological father Brian SCHOONVELD. Photographed at home in Indianapolis Indiana
KRISTIN SCHOONVELD with adopted son Nick, and Nicks biological father Brian SCHOONVELD. Photographed at home in Indianapolis Indiana

Nolis Anderson Kristin Schoonveld with adopted son Nick, and Nick's biological father

After Grace died in January 2015 at the age of 60, Kristin said she worried about Nick — and his father, Brian.

"I was just one of many people who were really worried about how Brian and Nick were going to maneuver through life," she says. "I was mostly worried about them just being just overwhelmed with grief."

To help out, she kept picking Nick up every day — and then started hanging out with Nick and Brian at their home.

"Brian likes to talk about how wonderful it was that I came into their lives when I did, but it's the exact same thing for me," she says.

"I knew by the end of the summer that I was in love with him," she adds. "We all came together at a time of real, real grief, but it was just an unbelievable win, win, win for us to have all found each other. And all three of us need the other too in some way that's pretty special."

For more on Kristin Schoonveld's incredible journey to find her family, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE or subscribe here.

Kristin and Brian married in January 2018, and she legally adopted Nick that May — making it official in the same courthouse where she herself was adopted as a baby.

That spurred her to order a DNA test to find her own biological family.

"I wanted to know who they were," she says.

Kristin took a DNA test and found her biological mother when she uploaded her DNA results to My Heritage.

Nervous to make contact, she first reached out to her biological mother's sister to ask if it would be okay. "She had not told anybody about me," Kristin recalls. "Nobody knew."

Then, she took a 23andMe test, searching for her birth father. (Her biological mother would go on confirm the identity of her biological father, who died years earlier, and said that he did know she was pregnant.)

After all that, the question she had asked everyone for years — "Would you want to know if you had a biological child you didn't know existed?" — happened to her in October 2019.

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Parker Erickson, who grew up in Santa Cruz, California, was 14 when his parents told him he was conceived using an egg donor.

"I remember texting a friend, and just kind of being like, 'I guess I'm not related to my mom's side of the family,' " says Parker, 26. "I had heard of a test tube baby."

His friends joked about them, and he was stunned to learn that he was one. His girlfriend, Kaylee Green, who wondered if he had other biological siblings he didn't know about, encouraged him to get a DNA test.

"There was always sort of that question up in the air of like, 'Could there be someone else?'" he says. "Both my parents said no. But as hopeful as Kaylee and I were, as hopeful as I was, there might have been someone."

Parker Erickson, Kristin Schoonveld, Tami Kennerson, Nick Schoonveld in Evansville Nov 2019
Parker Erickson, Kristin Schoonveld, Tami Kennerson, Nick Schoonveld in Evansville Nov 2019

Kaylee Green Parker Erickson, Kristin Schoonveld, Tami Kennerson, Nick Schoonveld in Evansville in November 2019

At first the 23andMe test said he had a cousin named Tami Kennerson — but they couldn't figure out how she was related to him. However, when they spoke, she told them she was adopted and also searching for her biological mother.

Then, after Kristin took her DNA test, the new data changed Tami Kennerson from being his cousin to his aunt. (Tami is Kristin's older biological half-sister — her mother had placed another daughter for adoption before Kristin.)

That November, Kristin brought Nick with her to Evansville to meet Parker — as well as his mother Kristin Erickson, Parker's girlfriend and Tami. During the trip Kristin also met her younger half-sister, in addition to both her biological mother and biological grandmother, who have both since passed away.

Kristin Schoonveld, with biological sister Tami Kennerson
Kristin Schoonveld, with biological sister Tami Kennerson

Kristin Schoonveld, with biological sister Tami Kennerson

For years, Parker asked his mother what his egg donor's name was. She didn't know. They were surprised and delighted to discover they both have the same first name — and that they were even named after the same book character, Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset.

Meeting her biological son was magical for Kristin.

"It's as if I've known him his whole life," she says.

Parker felt the same easy connection.

"It was like hanging out with people that I already knew," he says of when he met his biological family. "It was instantly just easy to love each other."

"He was just so sweet with Nick and saying, 'I've always wanted a brother,' " Kristin says.

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As their relationship deepened, Parker and his girlfriend ended up settling in Boulder — and inspired by his "egg mom," Parker applied to volunteer with his local Special Olympics.

"It just makes everything bigger and greater," she says of having Parker in her life. "It just expands my happiness."

"We've established a relationship that's going to last the rest of our lives," she adds.