By: Annette Lesure
A DNA test altered former East Los Angeles College student Frances Felix’s life.
She learned at age 40 that she was kidnaped at birth.
DNA testing has proven to reunite lost loved ones throughout the world and can be a valuable source to connect with family.
Felix was born in Sonora, Mexico, on Aug. 18, 1980. She was brought to Boyle Heights, as a newborn to her adopted mother, Linda Felix. Growing up knowing she was adopted led to curiosities that would later change her life.
In January, Felix decided to join the trend and order an Ancestry DNA kit, in hopes of finding answers. Once receiving her kit, Felix took months to send in a saliva sample. After grappling with the Ancestry password, she finally read the results.
Felix matched with one first cousin in Sacramento, Susan Rodriguez. “I sent her an email right away,” said Felix. She proceeded to correspond more with Rodriguez in Spanish, which allowed for better communication.
Around 17 years old, Felix approached an adoptive aunt by the name of Rosita Ibarra, the person who brought her from Mexico. Ibarra always refused to give Felix information, but finally offered her two names. Ibarra claimed that “Eva” was a homeless 18-year-old mother who had one-year-old “Lupita” in tow when she “voluntarily” gave Felix up.
As Felix communicated with Rodriguez, it quickly became apparent that this was going to be big. DNA results often have a huge impact on estranged families. Rodriguez confirmed to Felix that her aunt’s name was Eva Saucedo, 58, and her sister’s name was Lupe Ramos, 41.
“Could this really be happening?” Felix asked herself. The two agreed to have Felix write a letter that Rodriguez would deliver to Saucedo. However, one phone call from Rodriguez quickly spread the word from Sacramento to Mexico, and a family member called Saucedo to tell her.
Saucedo immediately asked to FaceTime with Felix. “I needed to see her face. I needed to know if she was mine,” Saucedo said.
“I was told that I had had a son who passed away a few hours after giving birth. I never got to see or hold him. I was young and naive, and I believed the nurses when they told me that the hospital would take care of his burial because I had had such a bad experience,” said she said.
Saucedo never got to see a doctor and almost bled to death, needing a blood transfusion as the nurses who illegally delivered her cut her as they brutally took the baby early. Once she’d given birth, she and her 18-month-old Lupita were dropped off at a bus station with a one-way ticket home to Ensenada, Mexico. Saucedo harbored her traumatic secret because the stigma of losing a baby was shameful, something completely understandable, given her Mexican culture.
Felix hysterically cried when she saw Saucedo’s face for the first time on FaceTime. Saucedo told her that they needed to remain calm so that they could speak. After comparing notes with what little but profound information the two had, Saucedo confirmed that Felix was, in fact, her daughter.
Saucedo needed a few days to talk to everyone, as she told Felix that she has three biological sisters and three nieces that she needed to speak to.
The following weekend Felix drove up to Sacramento. Upon arriving at the family’s little restaurant, there was a sign welcoming her and a list with all the names of her new, immediate family. “I have all my daughters here, and I want her here, too. But I love her and understand that she has her life in LA, and her partner. It would be unfair of me to ask her to move here,” Saucedo said.
It is common for reunited parents and children to want to make up for lost time, particularly when a child has been abducted.
As a child, Felix would watch Pinocchio every day then run out and wish upon a star, hoping that she would find her way back to the family she was sure was out there.
Felix’s yearning to find her family grew painfully stronger at age ten when searching through paperwork led her to find all of her illegal birth documents. She instantly knew something was wrong because Linda Felix was listed as her birth mother.
In 1983, Saucedo left Mexico and made Los Angeles her home. For 32 years of Felix’s life, Saucedo lived within 10 miles of her. For four of those 32 years, Felix and her biological family lived within six blocks of each other. They learned they had grazed elbows at their local Boyle Heights McDonald’s on many occasions, when Saucedo identified the sweet adoptive aunt that ultimately raised Felix, in a photo.
Felix’s adoptive aunt, Bertha “Berty” Murillo, passed away shortly before Saucedo and Felix’s reunion. Murillo was unaware of the adoption history and turned out to be the love of Felix’s life, as well as her saving grace.
“All of my wishes came true. I am just so mad that all of my life I have celebrated my birthday on Aug. 18, and now I have come to find out that I was born on Aug. 2 or 3.” She said she is beyond thankful to be spending her first Thanksgiving at home.
Felix continues to seek information from Linda Felix, who still refuses to divulge information.
Felix plans on legally changing her last name to her mother’s.
Saucedo and Felix have ordered a mother-daughter DNA test, although they do not doubt the initial DNA results because all of Saucedo’s daughters and granddaughters look alike.
The use of technology for finding missing persons has advanced so much that facial image recognition in coordination with DNA testing is now being used by The International Criminal Police Organization, also known as Interpol, and local law enforcement agencies around the world.