Reuniting Families

By Donna Lopez

Cathi Hardesty didn’t know her biological father, but becoming a new parent made her curious about her father’s identity. She found her biological father with the help of a friend who asked her to pay it forward instead of accepting monetary payment.

This unique experience allows her to empathize with others’ yearning to belong by identifying a biological parent.

Today, Cathi has turned a lifelong hobby into a profession, reuniting families using various DNA methodologies. Ironically, it was Cathi’s biological dad who introduced her to the science of DNA when they created their own family tree.

Cathi’s typical clients are:

  • Middle-aged adoptees whose adoptive parents have passed away, leading them to become curious about their origins.
  • A parent who gave up a child for adoption and now longs to meet him or her.
  • Surprised when a DNA test proves the person who raised them is not their biological parent.

Cathi’s research begins with her client’s genetic profile, but she also uses newspapers, birth announcements, obituaries, census, draft records and other databases. Discoveries are made, and sometimes secrets are exposed. Cathi shares with her client all of the results including their biological parent’s name, marital status, children and extended family and more.

Grateful clients have shared tears, videos, pictures and phone calls. However, not all outcomes are what they may have wished.

In a recent case, Cathi found an adopted sister in all of five minutes! Her client was so grateful that she sent a video of herself sobbing with joy. In another case, both of the client’s adoptive parents had passed and she wanted to find her biological parents. There is always a risk that Cathi cannot deliver a happy ending, but Cathi’s client wanted to take the risk, hoping she could just meet them. Unfortunately, the research showed her biological father died at the age of 25 in prison, convicted of multiple murders. Holding out hope for better news on the biological mother, Cathi kept searching. Unfortunately, she discovered that her client’s biological mother was murdered by her husband in an unrelated case.

“It’s gut-wrenching at times, delivering such horrific news to families,” Cathi says. “There’s usually a time in every case where I am moved to tears; sometimes it’s when I have solved a very difficult case and others, when I tell my client who their biological parent is and their reaction is overwhelming after having waited so long for answers.”

Cathi is very empathetic toward her clients and often assists them with initial conversations or composing a letter to the biological parents, realizing her clients are now struggling with intense emotions including fear of rejection.

“These cases mean so much to me. I feel grateful that God has blessed me with skills that allow me to make such a difference in someone’s life. The satisfaction I get cannot be articulated. It’s just the best feeling I’ve ever experienced. I continue to be humbled to be able to play such a big part in someone’s life.”

If you are in need of Cathi’s services, please email her at

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