Long lost and found

Siblings reunited by DNA?test

PHOTO SUBMITTED John Roschie of Tiffin is pictured with his older sister, Sandra Andrews. In 2017, the siblings were reunited after 72 years apart thanks to DNA testing.

John Roschie of Tiffin knew he had been adopted as a toddler, and he knew he had been separated from three older siblings. Although his efforts to locate family members had yielded bits of information, they had not led to any reunions. If he did find his relatives, he wondered if they would want to reestablish family ties.

At age 73, Roschie worried that time was running out. When DNA testing became available through Ancestry.com, Roschie’s oldest son completed the test. As fate would have it, a nephew he had never met also sought and received DNA results. The compiled data strongly indicated a match.

“This is a miracle that I hoped would happen someday,” Roschie said. “I’d been married more than 30 years and always talked about finding my family.”

His nephew’s wife used the information from Ancestry to contact Roschie’s son by email. Then, last September, Roschie got a phone call from Chandler, Arizona, and heard his sister’s voice. Now 80 years old, Sandra Andrews was amazed to be talking to her lost brother in Ohio.

“She cried and said she never thought we would find each other, at this age,” Roschie recalled. “She said she kissed me on the cheek to say goodbye and figured she’d never see me again.”

Roschie learned his sister recently had completed chemotherapy and radiation for cancer, but she gradually was recovering. Having experienced cancer treatment himself, Roschie made plans to fly out and meet Andrews, before her health deteriorated.

“I told my wife (Linda), I need to go out and not wait,” he said.

Upon arrival, the family met and greeted their newly discovered relative. Roschie said they gave him family photos from the past and caught up on some of the family history. He knew he had been born in Connorsville, Indiana. He also knew his parents had split up while he was an infant.

“My dad, my oldest brother, and my sister went to California. My mother, my second brother and myself stayed in Connorsville. Mom had a hard time providing for everybody, so she put me up for adoption,” Roschie said.

That was in 1947, when he was 2 years old. Another family in Connorsville adopted Roschie’s younger brother. The Roschies told him about his siblings and his biological parents, the Sextons. Mrs. Sexton later joined her husband and children in California, Roschie was told.

For awhile, relatives in Connorsville were sending snapshots of Roschie to Andrews in California, but then the Roschies moved to Clyde. The Sextons in Connorsville lost contact with him. By then, he was in third grade, Roschie said.

After graduation from Clyde High School, Roschie was in the U.S. Navy from 1964-68, followed by six years with the Army National Guard and six years with the Air National Guard. Married twice, his family includes two sons, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

Roschie said at one point he looked up the Connorsville Sextons in the phone book and randomly called one of the numbers. That person believed his family had moved to California, but he had no other information.

More years went by before DNA enabled Andrews and Roschie to reconnect. Roschie made a second visit, accompanied by his sons. During that reunion, Roschie said he noticed the strong physical resemblance among the men.

In addition to her son, Andrews has a daughter with Native American heritage. She was adopted 50 years ago through an agency of the Mormon Church.

Roschie said Andrews was glad to know Roschie had gone to a good family. The other Sexton siblings and their parents have died, leaving Andrews and Roschie as the only living immediate offspring.

After Easter, Roschie is taking his wife, Linda Roschie, to Arizona, who has gotten to know Andrews from phone calls.

“I never met her in person, but she just seems so sweet,” Linda said. “I talk to her all the time.”

John Roschie said he is thankful to for the opportunity to know and love his sister. He still wants to learn more about the family’s medical history. The nephew told Roschie his visit may have hastened Andrews’s recovery from cancer. This fall, she is hoping to travel to Ohio and meet the rest of Roschie’s family.

“If it hadn’t been for DNA, none of this would have happened,” Roschie said. “It was like we have known each other for a long time but I just had been away for a long while. It was so much better than I could have prayed for.”