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DNA research helps Minnesota man track down nine new siblings

MANKATO, Minn. — Growing up Duane Weaver thought he had two brothers.

Now the Mankato man knows he actually has 11 siblings, thanks in part to online DNA databases.

He has learned his mother had multiple children with men who were not the man who raised him. He has discovered that his biological father, whom he never knew, also had multiple children.

Weaver says the realization hasn’t changed the way he feels about the parents who raised him, other than he now wonders how much they agonized over their secrets.

Meanwhile the discovery has sprouted new friendships with many of his new siblings and their family members, the Mankato Free Press reported.

He had to make himself a chart to keep track of all of his new relations.

His mother, father and biological father all had died before he made his discoveries.

Duane Weaver grew up in Mankato as the son of Elaine Kunst Weaver and Frank Weaver. He had a younger brother who lived with them. An older half brother, whom Elaine had as a teenager, was raised by his grandparents.

He vaguely recalls a cousin once claiming Frank wasn’t his father. But he dismissed it as a teasing fabrication.

“Growing up I really didn’t have a clue,” he said.

Around 15 years ago Weaver received a call from an adoption agency informing him of the possibility he might have a biological sibling who had been adopted and asking if he’d like to have contact.

Weaver said “yes” and got to know his first sister. His mother was a teenager when she had Sue Anderson and put her up for adoption. Anderson lives in northern Minnesota and they have met a few times over the years.

His new sister said the adoption agency told her their mother had two other children who were adopted. For years Weaver didn’t have any leads finding those siblings.

Then last year a young woman from Arizona reached out. Genna Batycki had sent her DNA to the 23andMe genetic testing service and learned she and Weaver shared some relatives. Weaver sent in his own DNA and learned he and Batycki’s father, Chuck Roseberry, were half brothers.

Weaver and Roseberry found they had an instant connection.

“We’re more alike than we are different,” said Roseberry, who lives in Phoenix.

For decades Roseberry knew only that he was born in Mankato before he was adopted. After his adoptive parents died he once tried to find the identity of his biological parents through state birth records. But the inquiry yielded no answers and Roseberry decided not to look any further.

But his curiosity was renewed a few years ago with a trip back to Minnesota to see his birthplace and the town of Preston, where he spent his first few years before his family moved to Arizona.

Roseberry had not thought about DNA testing until Batycki suggested it and offered to take the lead in searching for relatives. On 23andMe she found and reached some more distant relations who connected her with Weaver.

The 23andMe site also revealed Weaver and Roseberry shared another half sibling, though they have not been able to get in contact with her and are not sure if she is still living.

The new family members started to get to know each other remotely during the pandemic. They met for the first time in person in January.

One of Weaver’s sons also happens to live in Phoenix. When Weaver went to help his son move to a new home, they took a break to go meet Roseberry and his family.

Weaver said he’s the most social one who always is up for meeting new people. Roseberry admitted he was a bit nervous.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

Now Roseberry is talking about coming back to Minnesota to visit Weaver, Anderson and other new-found family members.

“I’m really enjoying getting to know these people,” he said.

Weaver also sent his DNA to the Ancestry database and it led him to other surprises.

He learned Frank Weaver was not his biological father.

“My dad is still my dad. He raised me,” Duane said he thought about Frank after that revelation.

He then learned his biological father, Earl Kleist, of Arlington, had six other children. He so far has met or talked to two of those new siblings.

The unearthing of new siblings has left him with many questions he wishes he could have asked when his parents were still living, including: Did his biological father know he was born? Did the man who raised him know about his mother’s past?

Mostly he wonders why his mother, who had been open and honest about so many other things, never told him.

“I wouldn’t have thought any less of her. I wouldn’t have loved her any less,” he said.

DNA matches with more distant relatives have allowed Roseberry to narrow down the search for his birth father to two brothers, who also were from the Mankato area but are no longer living. He’s been in touch with relatives of those brothers, who are now taking some time to decide if they want to participate in testing.

Roseberry and Weaver both are cautious about not pressing too hard to get to know new relatives who might not be interested in welcoming them into their lives at this time.

“I understand if they want nothing to do with me,” Weaver said.

Weaver, who is recently retired from a painting company, said he is relishing researching his family tree and connecting with new relations.

“So far I haven’t found any serial killers,” he joked.

He suggests people participate in DNA testing only if they are mentally prepared for the potential it may reveal some surprises.

“For me it’s been interesting to know,” he said. “It doesn’t change how I was raised or who raised me. But it’s sure been a fun journey.”

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