CLERMONT, Fla. — A Lake County woman who had spent more than three decades searching for her birth father has finally met him in person after they found each other through Ancestry.com.
- Clermont's Angel Bland was born in New Jersey
- Given up for adoption along with 2 brothers at age 4 1/2
- Ancestry.com linked Bland to birth father John Holterman
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Angel Bland of Clermont was born and raised in New Jersey. When she was a little more than 4 years old, her mother gave her and her two brothers up for adoption because she couldn't support the family.
“She told me, sitting around a record player listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s 'Leaving on a Jet Plane,'that they didn’t have any more food and the welfare check was cut off,” Bland explained.
A short time later, Bland and her two brothers went to live with an adoptive family. When she got older, her adoptive parents gave her the name of a man they said was her father.
But in a strange twist, the man was not, in fact, her father. He was her brothers' father, but not hers.
"It didn't click," Bland explained. "It was like, we are not alike, like there is something missing, kind of."
Determined to find her birth father, she sent a DNA swab to Ancestry.com earlier this year — and that's where the story takes another turn.
Two years ago, another man from New Jersey wanted to find out more about his heritage. John Holterman sent in a swab to track his family's roots.
It was that test that led Bland to him, a daughter he never knew he had.
Holterman said he dated Bland’s mother in 1968 when he was in the Navy. Although he knew Angel’s mother was pregnant when he got deployed to Hawaii, he says he was unaware he was the father.
Two and a half years later when he returned from deployment, Bland’s birth mother had moved away.
As it all turned out, Bland not only has found her birth father, but her stepmother Denise, as well as three half-brothers and a stepbrother.
“There’s always that not knowing, and then there was fear, like, 'Oh my gosh, am I going to be accepted?'” Bland said.
On Tuesday, she met Holterman in New Jersey, along with the family she never knew she had. Bland is staying there for a couple of weeks to get to know them better.