MOUNT CARMEL — Ronald Shopinski thought he was an only child for 75 years.
However, because of Ancestry.com, the Mount Carmel man on Saturday embraced his younger sisters for the first time. Their smiles and tears both told the emotions they were feeling — they were all finally home.
"It took us long enough," Shopinski said to his sister.
"I was always the oldest," said Lidia Strohecker, 70, of Inglenook, Dauphin County. "Now here you are."
The siblings who met on Saturday are Shopinski, Strohecker, Joela Lord, 72, of Lancaster, and Linda Paumer-Dehoniesto, 65, of Virginia. They also have a brother, Edward Paumer Jr., 68, of Halifax, and two other sisters, Gloria Strohecker, 53, of Halifax, and the late Peggy Paumer, who passed in 2007.
The siblings all have the same mother. Shopinski was born to his 16-year-old mother and went to live with his paternal grandparents at age 6, never knowing his mother went on to have other children.
Lord was adopted out of the family when she was a year old. Last year, Lord took an Ancestry.com DNA test, which revealed she had an unknown nephew who also used the services. She contacted the adoption agency who told them who her parents were. She spoke to her nephew who got her in contact with her siblings.
Lord contacted Shopinski three weeks before Christmas 2018. Strohecker and Paumer-Dehoniesto grew up together. Lord and Shopinski met in December. This was the first time he met the two younger sisters, and he has not yet met the other siblings.
When he met Lord, "I said this was the greatest Christmas present," Shopinski said.
Shopinski said he looked but couldn't find anything in historical records of his mother or potential family members on that side.
"I've been on a quest, and finally it paid off," said Shopinski.
"It's just amazing," said Shopinski's wife Virginia. "I have a big family, and we thought he had no one."
More than 20 billion records have been added to Ancestry.com over the past two decades, and Ancestry adds an average of two million records to its website each day based on the average of record growth over the last five years.
Ancestry members have created 100 million family trees containing more than 11 billion ancestral profiles and have uploaded and attached more than 330 million photographs, scanned documents, and written stories to their trees.