"It was like a bomb had gone off when I first learned I have had a daughter who was out in the world for 50 years without me knowing."
In 2019, Nancy Galloway purchased a DNA test kit in the hopes that it would reveal some intriguing family history. The test results would reveal a long-kept family secret and fundamentally change the life of this Louisville mother of six (three biological children and three stepchildren). The information affected not just Galloway, but also of 79-year-old former surfer Alan Freedman in Australia, per Yahoo! News. "It was like a bomb had gone off when I first learned I have had a daughter who was out in the world for 50 years without me knowing," Freedman told The Courier Journal. Galloway expressed, "Growing up I never felt like I was missing having a dad, but in hindsight, for 50 years, there was a hole in my life."
When Freedman went to Kentucky to gather information about perhaps launching a business in Louisville, he met Galloway's mother Rosalind Mudd. Before Freedman continued his travels, they were together for a few weeks. For 26 years, Mudd kept the identity of the Australian guy who fathered her child a secret from everyone. "Through the years, people have asked me about my ethnic background and my kids would come home from school with a family tree to fill out," remembers Galloway. "I found my birth certificate when I was 12 years old and the line for 'father' was empty. I never had any information about where I came from on my father's side. It was just a blank, and I had nothing to pass on to my children."
She had made an effort to locate her father, that much is certain. Galloway learned the identity of her father when she was 26 years old. Her mother was terminally ill at the time. "I was so shocked by what she was telling me that I didn't think to ask for specifics like how to spell my dad's name," Galloway said. "By the time I realized I needed that information it was too late — Mom died the day after she told me."
More than other families who have known one another their entire lives, the father and daughter chat with one another frequently. Daily face-to-face video chats with smiles and laughter are part of their routine. They organize visits to each other's houses, play Wordle, and share family news. Galloway describes her father as "the sweetest man alive" and is happy that she has two younger brothers who reside in Australia and have their own families. In addition, she has grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, and aunts she was unaware of.
"I was blessed to grow up in Louisville with an amazing older and a large and loving family," she said. "Now, I have two younger brothers in Sydney and younger nephews and nieces there, too. Best of all, my own children can now fill in their family tree and it includes so much more family than we could have ever imagined."
"Nancy is such a gift, " Freedman said. "I tell anyone who will listen, 'I have a daughter and I don't want to waste a moment of getting to know everything about her.'"
This Thanksgiving serves as a further reminder for Galloway of the priceless gift she received three years ago: a father she never realized she needed and who she is incredibly grateful to have in her life right now. "I have unconditional love," she said. "I have this wonderfully large and loving family on both sides, and a sense of completeness which is indescribable."