Ronna Harris grew up not knowing her Father. She had a name; she knew that her mother had named her “Ronna” because it was a combination of “Donna,” which was her mother’s name, and “Ronald,” which was his name. She knew that he had only been in Oklahoma for three months when she was conceived, but she had no information beyond that.
Ronna was a preemie. She was born at 27 weeks when her mother accidentally fell off the front porch, inducing labor. When her mother reached out to her paternal grandmother -who went to the hospital to see baby Ronna, she was told, “don’t call here again” because her grandmother believed there was no way she could be her granddaughter. Without the information that Ronna was born early, she didn’t think her son could be the father – he would still have been deployed when Ronna was conceived. So, Ronna grew up constantly wondering where he was and who he was and believing he didn’t want her. And since his name was relatively common, her searches always ended in frustration. Partially because she had the wrong middle name, Oddly, in 2018, she stumbled across a photo of him in high school, but she had no way of knowing the picture she was looking at was his.
Ronna was the 4th of 6 children born to her Mother and the only “easy” pregnancy she had. Her mother suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes the woman to be extremely sick during her entire pregnancy. This condition is also the same one suffered by Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales. Ronna’s mother had been in the middle of a divorce, where her first husband kidnapped the oldest three children and moved out of state with them. She would get random postcards from vacation spots – her ex-husband’s way of rubbing salt in the wound of her missing children.
Ronna was very angry with her mother growing up; she described herself as a “terrible” teenager. She says that her maternal grandmother supported her belief that she deserved to know where she came from, and Ronna’s mother told her everything she knew, but it wasn’t very much, and Ronna wasn’t listening.
Ronna was an early adopter of the direct-to-consumer DNA test. She first tested back in 2006, hoping to identify her Father, but her matches were few. It wasn’t until she came to DNAngels in 2022 and was assigned Angel Rachel Kiley Trout that she was on her way to locating this elusive man she had longed to identify.
Within a day, Rachel had not only the RIGHT Ronald but contact information for him and her siblings and a beautifully built family tree. Ronna comes from a large and complex family, her three older siblings returned to her mother when the oldest was about 18, and she has two younger siblings and six children of her own. She has a successful business that she started with her first husband, who passed away a few years ago, and is remarried to a wonderful and supportive man that has been there for her during her
journey. She loves to quilt and do amateur photography, but her life still felt incomplete despite that.
When she first reached out to her father and siblings on Facebook, they all thought it was a scam until her brother took the time to read the message she sent. Ron wasn’t giving up; she was DETERMINED to be heard! “I had lost my Mama in December, my Aunt was too young to remember, and I felt I was running out of time. I didn’t get this far just to get That Far. I had spent my whole life thinking I wasn’t wanted, and I needed to know it or hear it. I had asked God for help right before I found DNAngels. He took it from there,” says Ronna.
And when he finally read the message and realized this wasn’t a scam and Ronna was HIS daughter? He quickly clarified the misconception that he had known of Ronna’s existence and that he chose not to be a part of her life. He never knew; his mother never told him about her conversation with Donna. He now texts her every day since that first day in September, even if it’s just to say he loves her or is thinking about her. This Christmas, he sent her a present and made her promise that she would not open it until Christmas. Being the dutiful daughter she has always been, she did as she was asked, and on Christmas Day, she opened it to identify a teddy bear, which she put next to the one that sat next to her Mother’s bedside during her last illness.
The relationship they have developed is what we wish for all of our clients. They have not met in person yet, due to being over 1000 miles apart, but every day he tells her a little bit more of the story of his life, and she shares a little bit more of her story with him. Ronna says, “So I had an idea to save the conversation I’ve been having with my Dad. If the internet ever goes down, or Facebook decides to delete it, or anything. So I found the settings where you can download your data. The photos we have shared together, downloaded separately from the text, are 357 pages text in Word. How’s that for a story? And he’s not done telling me things yet, either. There is something to do with horses and a ranch in Oregon, I think, he said.” Her takeaway from all of this? “I grew up thinking that I was not wanted, and identifing out it wasn’t true, I now hold my head higher, he’s still here, and he loves me. He hasn’t met me yet, but he loves me. I was wanted. I AM wanted, and I get a text daily to remind me of that.”
When asked what advice she would give those just beginning their journeys, she says, “No matter what the story, everyone needs to know,” echoing the sentiment of her maternal grandmother from so long ago.