DNA test helps fill in a Snohomish family’s tree
How two people met their fathers
SNOHOMISH — Raymond Fosburg, 63, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was 16 when he first heard the rumor that Paul Fosburg, the man he called dad, wasn’t actually his biological father. He had grown up with his half-sister Linda from his mother Barbara’s previous marriage to Lee Skinner.
When Ray told Paul what he had heard and asked if perhaps Lee was his dad, it upset the man who had raised him, so Ray didn’t bring it up again. He contemplated the possibility that he might be adopted and thought Lee might be his father. Without answers, Ray had even asked Linda to pluck a hair from Lee’s head so that he could have it tested for a DNA match.
Mary Fosburg, Ray’s wife, was concerned about hereditary diseases and asked Barbara over lunch about a condition Paul had. “Well you don’t have to worry about that because he’s not his dad,” Mary said Barbara answered. “And if he ever wants to know he can come and talk to me.”
Mary told Ray the remarkable news that what he had heard many years before was true. He responded, “I don’t care, whatever,” and didn’t pursue the new information any further for several years.
He later found out from his sister that Lee Skinner wasn’t his father either. Ray was finally ready to talk with his mother.
“So, mom, who is my daddy?” he eventually asked.
Barbara told him that while living in Grand Rapids and married to Lee Skinner, who was in the military at the time, she had worked in a bakery and the marriage was falling by the wayside and just not working out.
“There is this man I met that I worked in a bakery with, his name was John Garcia,” she told him. Ray learned that he had been conceived during her brief relationship with John. John wanted to stay with Barbara, but when her mother found out about their affair, she told him to leave Barbara alone.
Ray heard from his mother that John even cried because he didn’t want to leave. “But my mom had talked to him and I was married, and I just needed to break it apart and stop,” Ray said his mom, who’s still alive, told him. “So, he left.”
Photo courtesy Garza family
From left: John Garza with new granddaughter Tiffany and sons Ray Fosburg and Bill Garza during a family reunion in Snohomish in mid-July.
Armed with this new knowledge Ray began asking around in earnest trying to find anyone who knew a John Garcia that used to live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nothing was panning out. His wife Mary said she told him: “Ray you’re never going to find your father.”
Little did he know that the man he hoped to find had moved to Snohomish.
Porsha Brown, 34, of Snohomish, was 13 when she first heard that Kurt (last name withheld by request) wasn’t her biological father. During divorce proceedings eight years earlier, her mother Susan Garza had learned from a blood test that Brown had different genetics.
Brown felt that Kurt had always raised and treated her like she was his own daughter. But still she was curious to find out who her biological father was. Garza told her all that she could remember was that his name is Rob, and many years earlier he had taken classes at a beauty school and briefly worked with her at the Jay Jacobs store in the Alderwood Mall.
Garza said she did actually run into Rob one time in Seattle, when Brown was two, and he had heard that she had a baby and even asked her if he was the dad. She told him she didn’t think so. “I mean, I had it in the back of my head, but I just didn’t know,” Susan Garza said.
Finally in 2018 Garza bought a DNA test kit for Brown and convinced her to use it. “I think maybe you will be able to find your real dad that way,” she told her daughter.
Brown says that her previous efforts to find out who Rob was had been discouraging so she didn’t want to get her hopes up. Still, she sent the swab of her tissue sample in by mail and waited about six weeks for her ancestry results to be uploaded onto a website.
On the website, she could then see other people it suggested as family connections to her by varying degrees of relation.
She blasted out a message to everyone who didn’t have a family name that she recognized; describing her search for Rob and the few details about him that she knew. She got a response from Rob Carson, 56, of Seattle, that same day after he heard from a relative who had received Brown’s query.
Carson said his cousin had sent him a message and included Brown’s phone number, but he personally felt somewhat skeptical. He texted Brown and told her he might have some information about her father. They agreed to a meeting for later that night at a restaurant he owns in Lynnwood.
They both knew the answer right away. “The minute I saw her I knew we were related. I could see it in her eyes,” said Carson. “The minute I saw her I knew we were related. I could see it in her eyes,” said Carson.
Brown was overjoyed and found herself with a new sense of closure. “He found out he had a daughter that he didn’t have any idea about and I was able to meet my biological father,” she said. Since then they have enjoyed getting to know one another and spending time together as a family for holidays and dinners at Carson’s mom’s house in Monroe.
However, there was still something curious that had come up in Brown’s search. While browsing her ancestry results on her mom’s side of the family, she said there was a first uncle that came up.
Brown had initially reached out to Raymond Fosburg in Michigan with her message blast asking about Rob. “I wasn’t familiar with the name which was very strange because I know everybody on that side of (mom’s) family,” she said.
Photo courtesy Garza family
Rob Carson with his biological daughter Porsha Brown of Snohomish, whose identity was not known until a
She learned from Ray that he was searching for a John Garcia he believed to be his biological father.
She mentioned to Ray her grandfather’s name and suddenly it clicked for both of them. “I was asking for information on my dad and he was telling me his story, and in the midst of everything my grandpa turned out to be John Garza who Ray thought his name was John Garcia so he could never find him.”
After so many decades Ray Fosburg finally believed he knew who his biological father is. He told Brown that he felt sure her grandfather John was the man he had been looking for.
Brown was in the process of just getting to know her own dad, so she wasn’t quite sure how best to proceed with this new piece of family information. John has been diagnosed with dementia and the family is protective of him. She told her uncle Bill Garza and aunt Julie Edmark about the conversation with Ray.
John, the patriarch, had told Bill and Julie, after their mother Lydia died in 2015, about the child he had previously fathered in Grand Rapids. They didn’t know if this was true, and with only the name Barbara to go on, they hadn’t really known how to find out who their potential half-sibling was.
Edmark said that when this lost family member story was brought up again, after Brown had her DNA tested, that she knew this was true. “That we even found this person, that was like an impossibility when he first told us the story,” she said. “It’s just, you know, how things that happen are supposed to happen.”
Edmark and her brother Bill began speaking with Ray on the phone and he sent them pictures of himself. The family resemblance was striking.
Brown sent Fosburg a photo of her grandpa John Garza when he was younger. Ray asked his wife, grown son and daughter if he looked like the man in the photo.
They didn’t know what he was talking about but were stunned. The physical similarities with Ray were uncanny and his wife Mary even thought this was possibly some photo editing prank.
Ray continued speaking with his newly discovered half-siblings and booked a trip to bring his family out to Washington for a week in July.
Before this, “I didn’t know if he was alive but when I found out that he was, I was going ‘holy smokes I would like to meet him before something happens’,” Ray said. He anxiously counted time down until his trip.
The time spent together in Snohomish served as both an introduction and a family reunion. They enjoyed a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls complete with hamburgers and root beers at a local drive-in. On the weekend there was a family birthday party with about 50 people and four generations of the Garzas in attendance.
Ray now has a video of getting to meet his father by birth for the first time. He said their expressions tell the whole story. “You can see the happiness on his face, and you can certainly see the happiness on my face,” Ray said. “You can see a lot of love in the family there.”
Bill Garza said that at times it can be difficult to communicate with John because of the dementia. He said, “It’s closure for my dad and he is 84 going on 85, so I would like to think that he can sleep at night knowing this part of his past has a happy ending in a way.”
After spending so long not knowing the identity of their biological fathers, both Porsha Brown and Ray Fosburg have new outlooks on family.
“Just for Ray to have that peace of mind to know where he comes from and to be able to come out here and meet my grandpa before he passes and to make that connection with his dad, I mean that’s a miracle to me and it’s pretty cool,” Brown said. “And I know exactly how that feels, so I feel super connected with him.”
Ray said that many years with no definitive answer meant that his trip to Washington was an invaluable experience. The families plan to stay in touch and have even discussed ideas to get together again in the future.
“This connection with Dad, I mean that made me happy as heck,” Ray said. “It was about meeting him, knowing him and having a connection and I can’t wait to (video chat with) him again to let him know how much I care about him.“
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