Another Branch on the Family Tree


Amanda Mourelatos, Reporter

First she filled a tube with her spit, then she found out she had another sibling. Back in October 2018, junior Olivia Petersen took a DNA test on as an early Christmas present from her grandma to later find her long lost, adopted sister Zara, 21, who lives in Florida.

Go back in time a bit to when Olivia was two years old, which is when her dad left. “Why I don’t know, but I’m sure he had his own reasons,” she said. The things her dad did caused him to be less of a role model, but she became more curious as she got older. Her curiosity led to the knowledge of her father going to prison and why. She also discovered, back in 2013, that her father passed away.

Olivia’s “DNA Story”

With that new understanding of her father, she began to wonder about where she came from, who her ancestors were, and what they did to come to America. In order to find any connections, she had to do a DNA test. Her family has previously used, so “either naturally or by fate, that’s the website I sent my tube of saliva to,” she said.

Olivia discovered that she was from the Kongo, a Bantu ethnic group that have lived along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa.

Olivia’s sister, Zara

When looking through the list of people she was related to, she found someone who looked an awful lot like her. She assumed it was her cousin since her father had a brother. Then, Olivia decided to email her saying who her father was with contact information just in case.

This “cousin” was Zara.

She got a response asking “if Dempsey was her father, and saying it was her father too.” Olivia was in church when Zara texted, and she read the message with misty eyes. Zara was given up for adoption before birth and was named by her adoptive mother. Recently, she has graduated from Berkeley School of Music and majored in music therapy.

Sadly, Olivia has never met her sister, but hopes to one day. The sisters text about once a week though. She said she was “sad that they couldn’t meet and that life separated them, but happy to know about her sister.” Plus, her adoptive family has been a huge benefit in Zara’s life.

If, or when, Olivia and her sister meet, she thinks they would talk in a nice restaurant and go do something fun. “When I meet her, I’d assume there would be some tears and some smiles,” she said.