NORTH WILDWOOD - “You’re stuck with me for the rest of your life” couldn’t be sweeter words for two half-sisters who discovered each other after more than 40 years.
Stacey Selepak, 45, of North Wildwood, met her older half-sister, Heather Bockius, of Wilmington, Del., at Christmas 2019, after discovering they were related after DNA testing.
The two are fast becoming the best of friends, as they get to know each other and try to make up for missing child, teen and adulthood years.
“Whatever we become is all good,” Selepak said, “because I didn’t have any of this before. We are what sisters are, which can mean friends, fighting sometimes but at the end of the day, you make up. We tell each other, ‘you are stuck with me for the rest of your life.’”
Knew of Adoption
Selepak knew from the time she was 8 years old that she was adopted because she said she didn’t look like her parents or family members.
“I was born on a Friday, and on that Monday, an attorney gave me to my adoptive parents. A year later, they adopted me, and the records were sealed. When I was eight, I started asking questions,” she said.
She grew up in the Philadelphia area, not far from where her biological mother was raising her half-sister, Heather. Bockius said she was 21 when she learned she had a sister.
“There was a rumor in the family about my mother having given away a child, but my mother would neither deny it nor confirm it,” Bockius said.
“I did the DNA testing about two years before Stacey, so nothing showed up on my family tree,” she continued. “I wanted to see if I could find my father and if I had any other siblings.”
Gift of DNA Kit
Two years ago, Selepak’s husband gifted her with a 23andMe DNA kit to help Stacey learn about her medical history. This past fall, Selepak received her results.
“It took me two years to get up the guts to do the DNA testing,” Selepak admitted. “I am a smoker and wanted to know about my health history. I found out I was OK, but there is an eye disease that runs in the family, so I am taking vitamins now that I found that out.”
She also found out there was a half-sister on both her mother’s and father’s side.
“I connected with my half-sister on my father’s side, but that didn’t go very well so we are not in touch,” Selepak said. “Maybe, she needs time to process this, I don’t know, but she has my information if she wants to get in touch.”
On her mother’s side, not only did Selepak meet Bockius, but she met her biological mother, as well. “When we saw each other, I realized I am the spitting image of my mother. It’s so weird. My sister and I look like each other as well,” Selepak said.
In addition, many of her and her biological mother’s habits and movements are the same or similar, Selepak said.
Both part their hair a certain way, only drink Coke and have similar movements. “It’s weird, but you think you would pick up the habits around you, but for many, they are the ones you were born with,” Selepak said.
“She is a younger version of my mom,” added Bockius, “but my mother still hasn’t confirmed it.”
Selepak also said she did not ask her biological mother any questions about why she was put up for adoption. “I believe my biological mother was very young when she had my sister, and we are only 14 months apart,” she said. “I’m guessing my biological mother didn’t have the support system she needed for two young children.”
Bockius said she grew up as an only child, and while her mother was married for a short time when she was young, Bockius still does not know who her biological father is. Neither does Selepak.
“I’m glad to have found that I belong to something, and I can see it,” Selepak added. “I’m getting to know my niece and nephew, and my sister and her family. I had a good upbringing and education and had a good life with my adoptive parents. I am happy for what I had, and whatever it becomes, I didn’t have it before, so it’s all good and positive for me.”
Bockius also said it’s been a “positive experience,” and she is interested in learning more about her half-sister and interested in others in the family being tested.
“I’m interested in seeing how this will all play out,” she added.
While growing up, some family friends, who Selepak believed could have been her biological father, also were in and out of her life. “They were close friends with my adoptive parents until I was 5, then they stopped coming around,” she recalled. “My dad died when I was 18-1/2-years-old, and they showed up at the funeral. They said if I ever needed anything, to let them know.
“It felt like I was looking in the mirror,” she added, “but when I tried to reach out, they didn’t want to open that door.”
She also found out that another family friend kept tabs on her growing up, updating her maternal grandmother over the years.
“My adoptive mother asked me to wait until she died before looking for my biological parents, and I did,” Selepak said, noting her adoptive mother died in 2010.
“I take this whole experience in a good way, a positive way,” she added. “I’m glad to have found my sister, and we plan to make up for what we missed along the way.”
To contact Karen Knight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.