RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond Public School teacher will spend Thanksgiving with her birth parents and siblings for the first time in 50 years.
LaTonia Dean, who was adopted and named Bonnie Davis, has been searching for her biological family her entire life. Her mother was 15 when she gave birth to Dean in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Armstrong High School English teacher found her mother Sheila Richardson, and brother Cortney Leonard in September after submitting a DNA test to Ancestry.com.
She immediately asked her mother about her father.
“Your dad is dead,” LaTonia Dean said her mother explained.
“She had been molested and it happen to be at the time that she was so in love with John Bowling,” said Dean.
Dean said her mom assumed her abuser, who is now deceased, was Dean’s father.
That was until a relative saw a picture of Dean.
“They saw my picture and she said, ‘oh no that is John Bowling all day long,’” said Dean.
Richardson got in touch with her teenage love interest John Bowling in Kentucky.
“He said girl where have you been? I’ve been looking for you for 20 years,” Dean said of Bowling’s reaction. “She [said she] was sitting beside a young lady she thought might be his daughter.”
Bowling submitted a DNA test to Ancestry.com and Dean waited patiently for the results that would come in November 9.
“As soon as I hit the button I saw his name and I just started screaming,” said Dean.
Seventy-six-year-old John Bowling, a retired steel mill worker, Chicago Police officer and Army veteran was her father.
“It’s just unbelievable, I’m so excited. Just thank God it’s a blessing from God,” said Dean’s father John Bowling.
Bowling saw his daughter for the first time over the phone while a CBS 6 camera was rolling.
“It was a strange feeling when I seen her because she looks just like me,” said Bowling.
“Oh my God he’s beautiful to me. I see myself in him,” said Dean of her father.
Dean learned she now has three sisters and eight brothers.
“In a matter of less than 90 days, I’ve gone from me and my 3 children to me, mom, grandma, dad, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles,” said Dean.
“To have my blood family just love me and accept me no questions asked after 50 years… I don’t even know how to process that,” she added.
Dean traveled to Washington DC in September where she was reunited with more than 100 relatives. She plans on traveling to Kentucky with her mom on Thanksgiving to meet her dad and other siblings in person for the very first time.
“To find mommy was beautiful enough but to find daddy and know I have all of these siblings. I feel so whole and complete,” said Dean.
The family says they are praising the higher power they credit for reuniting them.
“That was divinely orchestrated and for it to happen my 50th year, the 50th year of my life,” Dean said. “It feels like my life is just starting for the first time.”
Dean's adopted parents are deceased.