She was drunk when something curious popped up in her Ancestry.com search — her dad.
After enjoying a few glasses of alcohol one night last fall, a tipsy Elise Jones, a student nurse from the UK, purchased an at-home DNA test kit from the genealogy website in the hopes of finding her estranged father, whom she had never met. She didn’t even know his name.
Nonetheless, the 22-year-old decided to give finding her dad a try.
“As a joke, I bought the Ancestry kit [while] under the influence of drinking,” Jones explained while detailing her story on the “Futureproof” podcast. “Ancestry is a kit that you put your DNA in, and it’ll tell you where you’re originally from and people [in your bloodline] who have also done Ancestry.”
Jones, from Wales, shared clips from the interview on TikTok after going viral with a video that summarized how she lovingly connected with her dad, 46-year-old Colm Verdon from Dublin, Ireland. Her testimonial scored a whopping 493,000 digital views.
However, despite the seriousness of her quest to find her father, Jones admitted to the podcast host, Jonathan McCrea, that she initially treated her search like a big joke.
“I thought it was going to be a little swab in the mouth,” she said of the brand’s DNA-testing materials.
“But you actually have to spit in a cup which was quite big. And you have to fill the cup with spit, and send it off,” she added, noting that she took pictures of the spit cup and sent the snaps to her friends. “So, to me, it was actually more funny than serious . . . I captioned [the pictures], ‘Who’s the daddy?,’ as a joke.”
But Jones’ chuckles ceased when her Ancestry results concluded that she was half Irish — a shocking fact she never knew.
The DNA database also matched her with a male cousin of her paternal grandmother. And after the two connected via the website, they hunted down her grandma’s marriage certificate, which led them to a record of the late woman’s children.
“From there it was just a guessing game of who my father was out of my grandmother’s children,” said Jones, whose granny had six sons.
After ruling out the majority of the woman’s sons as her potential father, Jones — who narrowed the possibilities down to two men based on their ages and locations — decided to contact Verdon, who she thought was her uncle, for help finding her dad.
But her initial communication, made via Facebook, went ignored.
“The first contact with Elise came in November,” said Verdon on the podcast. “She said, ‘I’m looking for my father. He doesn’t even know that I exist. And it’d be lovely to get to know him and my paternal family.’ “
At first, Verdon thought Jones was a scammer. But that all changed after he scrolled through her Facebook photographs.
“There was a very strong resemblance in terms of facial features,” he said. “I was like, ‘This is definitely my daughter.’ ”
He then reached out to her mother on Facebook. The two hadn’t spoken since their one and only romantic rendezvous in 1999, when Jones was conceived after sports teams from Wales and Ireland faced off in a match. And Jones’ mom agreed that she was likely his daughter.
Shortly after that message exchange, a DNA test proved that Verdon was, indeed, Jones’ dad.
“I was surprisingly calm being greeted with this tsunami of news,” said Verdon, who isn’t married and has no other children. “But underneath that calmness was anxiety, as well as [the question], ‘Am I good enough?’ It was scary and exciting at the same time.”
Jones traveled to Ireland to meet Verdon for the first time in May. The pair was immediately dumbfounded by the many uncanny similarities between them.
“Our characteristics are literally the same. We find everything funny,” laughed Jones. “I think I literally have the same face, just in a female version.”
“We’re almost like twins,” agreed Verdon. “If you were to take a photo of me when I was 22 and put it alongside Elise, which we have done, we actually do look a bit like we’re twins.”
And the new dad couldn’t be happier to have a look-alike kid in his life.
“I didn’t know Elise existed, so there wasn’t a void [before she found me],” said Verdon.
“[But as a father] you feel this weight of responsibility now. You feel this connection to another person that you only have [with] your mother, maybe,” he continued. “But now that you’ve passed down life, this whole new legacy — if nothing else, I’ve co-created this beautiful woman. So there’s more substance to [my] life. I definitely feel much more richer as a person.”
And Jones — who’s an only child, and has always wanted siblings — hopes the DNA website will continue adding to the branches to her family tree.
“I’m hoping another brother or sister pops up on Ancestry,” she giggled.