One Ancestry.com DNA test later, Philly lawyer discovers a half-brother


Updated: Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 8:23 AM

Peter Klenk in his Center City home on Friday, August 18, 2017. Klenk, a estate-planning attorney, used Ancestry.com and discovered a half-brother.

The half-brothers have similar senses of humor.

And maybe I’m just looking for it, but they kind of favor each other, too. Something in the eyes.

Until recently, Peter Klenk and Kevin Peck had no idea the other existed.

A few months ago, Klenk, a Philadelphia lawyer, got curious. He knew that the man who raised him wasn’t his biological father, and he’d long stopped pressing his mother for answers she refused to give.

But while helping a great-aunt put the family’s history on Ancestry.com, Klenk noticed that the genealogy research website was advertising DNA kits to help people determine their heritage.

“I thought: ‘That’s kind of cool. I’d like to know what my background is,’ ” Klenk recalled when we met at a Philly coffee shop.

The test, which showed that he was of Norwegian descent, not German as the family had always thought, included an option to post his results on the site.

He didn’t expect much, but there was a small part of him that wondered if he’d find a connection to his biological father’s side of the family.

Almost immediately he got an email from Peck, a technical marketing manager in California.

Kevin Peck, of California, used Ancestry.com to find his half-brother, Peter Klenk, a Philadelphia lawyer. The half-brothers are now searching for their biological father.

Peck, who grew up knowing he was adopted, had been genealogically sleuthing for a while.

“When I was younger it didn’t really matter,” he told me from his job in California. “But as I got older, I got more curious.”

When he first looked through the results, he thought he and Klenk might be cousins, but when he realized how much DNA they shared, he knew they were more.

He proceeded carefully; he didn’t know how much the Philadelphia lawyer knew about his own background. Klenk had listed the man who raised him as his father.

“I wasn’t looking to disrupt someone’s life,” Peck said.

But when Klenk told him that he didn’t know who his biological father was, Peck laid it out.

“I don’t know if you noticed,” Peck emailed on July 16, “but I checked the amount of DNA we share…and [it] is … right on the money for ½ siblings.”

Klenk emailed right back.

“Dude! You might be a ½ brother? Cool.”

The two, both 54, discovered that they were born two months apart in 1963, Klenk in January and Peck in March.

“So you are my little brother,” Klenk teased. “I missed out on giving you noogies.”

The two are hoping to get together soon, but until then, they communicate almost daily.

Peck thought their first phone call would be an awkward five-minute conversation, but they spoke for hours. They are both fathers, they both like video games and puzzles. Neither is done searching for answers.

Now the two are united in hoping that the same way they came to find each other may also lead them to their biological father.

They don’t have much to go on. Klenk’s mom doesn’t want to discuss more details than the few she’s reluctantly given him over the years. Peck’s biological mother hasn’t responded to his attempts to connect.

All the brothers know, from a few slips of the tongue over the years and various documents with crumbs that may or may not be completely accurate, is that both of their mothers were living near the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in 1962 when they became pregnant. Their father, called Ole, was an electrician born in 1939. He finished high school and had an older married brother. He had brown eyes and brown hair.

Neither son expects that finding the man would change their lives dramatically. But they are not ready to give up.

“It’s not necessarily about finding this guy,” Peck said. “It’s really [about] finding a connection to a family tree and understanding my heritage.”

Klenk shares the sentiment.

“I’d just like to know who the guy is,” he said. “I like to put things in order, I like to know how things fit together. So it would help me put the puzzle together.”

Whatever happens, at least they found each other.

And that, they both agree, isn’t half bad.


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