Christine Kiefer never knew her birth father.
The 57-year-old was given up for adoption by her mother about six days after her birth, and knew only a few details about her father — his name was Dorie, and he's from Pennsylvania.
Although she was adopted by and raised by her grandparents, Kiefer said she always wondered about her father. That curiosity is what drove her to Ancestry.com, a website that uses people's DNA samples to help trace their family history.
It's through that process that she found herself 1,160 miles from her home in Wichita, Kansas, at a family birthday party in central Pennsylvania on Sunday.
There she was led around the civic center at 11246 S. Eagle Valley Road in Port Matilda by a beaming Dorie Weaver — her father.
With his arm around Kiefer, the 81-year-old Weaver proudly walked around the civic center with his new-found daughter, introducing her to new aunts, uncles and cousins.
"I'm glad I found my other daughter. The daughter I never knew I had," Weaver said.
Although Kiefer was meeting a lot of new people, there was one familiar face at the party, Weaver's niece — Cindy Mostrom.
It was Mostrom who first reached out to Kiefer on Ancestry.com, seeing the connections and similarities in their Ancestry DNA profiles.
"I messaged her and said, 'Hey, this is Cindy,' because she’s a Weaver, I can tell by the DNA," Mostrom said as she recalled her first interaction with Kiefer. "She said, 'I don’t think I know you.' And I said, well I can see we’re cousins. And she said well if we are cousins. I said well we are cousins, I can see from the DNA, and she said I don’t know who my father is. And she said she’s been looking for 27 years, and I said I gotta help a sister out here."
Mostrom asked Kiefer to gather all the information she could about her birth and where she lived. When she put all the pieces together, she thought it had to be her Uncle Dorie.
So, overwhelmed by the opportunity to help Kiefer fill this void in her life, Mostrom placed a call to her uncle.
"Hi Uncle Dorie, you know I love you," she said she started out the conversation. Then she slowly built up to the question at hand.
She asked him if he'd ever lived in Fort Riley, Kansas. "Yes," he replied. Do you remember a Donna who was a waitress at a cafe that you used to date? "Yes," he replied again, after some thought.
"Well Donna had a child, and she gave that child up for adoption. She matches our DNA. She's been looking for her dad for 27 years, and she's your daughter," Mostrom told him.
Then there was silence over the phone.
When Mostrom asked Weaver how he felt, he said — "Happy."
"I was very, very happy. Very happy," Weaver said on Sunday amid laughter. "And I'm still happy, you can tell."
Before he hung up the phone with Mostrom, he said he wanted two things — for Kiefer to call him "Dad," and for his name to be added to her birth certificate.
"I didn't want it to say 'unknown father' anymore," he said.
Kiefer told Mostrom at first that she wasn't sure whether she'd call Weaver "Dad" or not. But when the two had their first phone conversation, after a long five-week wait for the DNA results to confirm their parent-child relation, Kiefer said she had no problem calling Weaver "Dad."
The pair met for the first time at Weaver's home in Petersburg on Friday. It was Weaver's idea to invite Kiefer to Pennsylvania to meet the family at the birthday party for his two brothers and his sister.
"We cried," Weaver said.
"It was pretty emotional," Kiefer echoed.
In the short time that the two have spent together, they've already bonded over their similarities.
"We both salt everything before we taste it," Kiefer said. "Before we even test it we salt it."
Knowing of their shared love of strawberries and canning, Weaver bought some strawberries over the weekend and made some jam for Kiefer to take home and share with her husband.
The two have also noticed some shared familial traits.
"Now I know where my son gets his ears," Kiefer told Mostrom after first seeing a photo of Weaver. "They stick out just like his!"
Kiefer said she's had no problem fitting in with her new family. Everyone she's met so far has been welcoming and accepting. Kiefer's even started calling Weaver's wife, Shirley Weaver, "Mom."
Although Kiefer flies back to Kansas Monday morning, the two plan to keep in touch.
"We talk on the phone about every other day," Weaver said. He and his wife also plan to fly to Kansas in June for Kiefer's son's wedding. That will be the first time Weaver will get to meet his four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and other son-in-law he never knew he had.
For Mostrom, who's been dubbed "the DNA detective" by her family, she not only got to play a role in uniting a daughter with her father after 57 years, but she also gained a new friend in Kiefer.
"It was truly a gift from God to be able to put these two together and for him to be so open about it," Mostrom said.
Although they've been apart for 57 years, Weaver and Kiefer are looking forward to making up for lost time.
"Anything worth having is worth waiting for," Weaver said.