BY LYDIA PATRICK, RUTH SUTER
12:32, 3 NOV 2022UPDATED21:28, 3 NOV 2022
Megan Kennedy, 37, managed to track her both of her parents just months before they both sadly passed away.
Mum and daughter at the reunion
An adopted woman who spent her whole life searching for her birth parents finally found them and was reunited with her mother in Glasgow - just months before they both tragically passed away.
Megan Kennedy, 37, grew up knowing she was adopted and on her 18th birthday she applied for her original birth certificate and found her biological mum's name - Patti Neil. In December 2018 new records were made available on ancestry.com and, after trawling the site, Megan found her mum's details on the 27th page.
She discovered her mum lived in Scotland, where Megan was set to travel in June 2019. Megan reached out to her birth mum, Patti, 64, a retired sales person, on Facebook, who was delighted to hear from her - and the pair reunited in Glasgow, sitting and chatting for hours.
Patti died in February 2022 unexpectedly after struggling with stomach issues. Megan then found she had a genetic match with a half-sister, Kayla, 30, in 2018, via GEDmatch and then an aunt, Kathy, 66, in September 2020.
These matches led her to discover her biological father, Johnny Cavalier, 62, a retired businessman. Johnny tragically died in February 2022 from polycystic kidney failure before they could meet in person.
The trio reunited
Megan has travelled over 4,000 miles across the world to reunite with her long-lost family - and despite losing both birth parents, feels she has found her "true identity" and "all her people".
Megan, a wedding photographer, from Birmingham, Alabama, USA, said: "It's almost hard to put into words how it feels - it's an immense feeling of peace. Every birthday I spent hours looking for Patti, it's amazing to think I will never have to look again.
"It's bittersweet, but I'm so grateful I reconnected with my biological parents before they passed."
Megan reached out to her biological mum, Patti, on Facebook - after discovering she lived in Scotland. Patti didn't reply straight away, and Megan was apprehensive if she would even see it or respond.
Megan Kennedy with her biological mum Patti Neil
I said: "I told her thank you for giving me up for adoption - I introduced myself. I wrote 'Hi this may be an odd message - I'm looking for my biological mom, her name was Patti Neil Whiting, I thought I looked a lot like you.'
"Patti replied: 'Oh my goodness. Megan you're beautiful - was just thinking about you last night.' I screamed - it was a guttural scream.
"Every dream and wish I had come true, every birthday I've ever had I've looked for her."
Megan was over-the-moon when her biological mum, Patti, agreed to meet up in June 2019.
She said: "I was so nervous but so excited. I felt every feeling you could have felt - we met at Glasgow train station and literally ran across the platform to hug each other.
"Everyone watching cried, it was like a movie."
The two together in Scotland
Patti explained her mother, Megan's grandmother, was from Wales and her father, Megan's grandfather, was from Fort Worth, Texas, US, and he fought during the second World War. Patti, who had dual citizenship, grew up Fort Worth, Texas, US, and when she was 27 went to go and live with her sister, Sherrie, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US.
Patti - who was married at the time - worked on the boats as a deck hand and fell for "lady's man", Johnny, 24, who was a diver. She told Megan they had a month-long relationship and that's when their daughter was conceived.
Patti says she didn't tell Johnny when she fell pregnant - as she was already married. She says she gave Megan up in the hope she would have a better life.
She gave birth in Mobile, Alabama, US, where Megan was adopted by Arthur Forehand, 71, a retired pharmacist, and Cassie Wilson, 72, a medical transcriptionist, through an adoption agency.
As for her father, Patti couldn't remember his name, but Megan received a DNA match on website for a half-sister, Kayla, 30, stay-at-home mum, from New Orleans, Louisiana, US.
Megan Kennedy biological father, Johnny Cavalier.
"I was ecstatic, I cried because I've always looked for a mother and a father - I never thought I would have siblings," she said. "It was the biggest bonus."
The sisters downloaded their 'raw DNA' and uploaded it onto another website - GEDmatch - and the data comparison revealed they shared an 'X chromosome' - meaning they shared a father. In September 2020, the sisters were on FaceTime and they both received an ancestry.com match out of the blue.
The website revealed they had a match - an aunt, Kathy Colllins, 66, in Highlands, Texas, US - and they quickly reached out.
Kathy told them: "There's going to be some surprises, you need to buckle in."
Their aunt revealed she had two brothers - one had been married since high school, so they ruled him out as a potential dad, she then sent over photographs of her other brother, Johnny.
Megan later met her little half-brother Ajay, seven, for the first time
"When I saw the photo, my heart dropped to my toes," Megan said. "I knew it was him, he looked like Kayla."
Kathy reached out to Johnny on the girls' behalf, and he asked for them to send letters.
"He completely accepted us both, he was so open and sweet and wanted to get to know us," Megan said. "He has a wife, Ragnhildur, 35, two years younger than me and a seven-year-old child, Ajay, my little brother," she revealed.
Johnny and his family all lived in Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras. In September 2021 Megan was set on travelling to meet her father but she was sceptical of Covid, had her three-year-old, Cora, and flights were extortionate.
They decided to hold off but in November 2021, Johnny was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and Megan didn't realise just how ill he was. Megan was booked to finally meet her father in January 2022 but was struck with Covid and couldn't travel.
Two weeks later, Megan received an earth-shattering phone call from his wife, Ragnhildur, to say Johnny was in hospital and it wasn't looking good, he died a few hours later on 17th February 2022.
Megan spent her whole life looking for her birth parents
"That was terrible. It was so hard, I hated we got Covid the week we were meant to go," Megan said. "I've had therapy that was provided to me through my adoption agency, but I miss my biological parents every day."
In March 2022, Megan travelled down to Roatán to spread her late father's ashes in the Caribbean sea in an emotional celebration of his life on a boat.
"We all spread his ashes in the Caribbean Sea, and it was the only time I got to touch and hold him," she said. "We sat on the boat and stared out into the horizon, and I reflected on where this journey has taken me to find all of my people."
Megan met her little half-brother Ajay, seven, for the first time and her step-mum Ragnhildur. On her ancestral journey she has met her aunt, Kathy, 66, and discovered another sister, Jennifer, 36 - Patti's daughter - who was conceived three months after she put Megan up for adoption.
"I always had a feeling I didn't belong and when my husband, Lee, and I married in Louisiana in 2011 I felt a strange sense of belonging, as if I were at peace," she said. "I feel like a transformed person from the woman I was in 2019, I have found all of my people. When you look at your biological parents and see your features in them, it is the purest self you have ever known."