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Alex Walker, who attends Portland Community College, spent a childhood being brought up by his grandparents.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - 29-year-old Alex Walker of Sherwood found his father through a DNA test. For a Sherwood resident, growing up in a traditional family may have been a dream — it took Alex Walker nearly three decades to actually meet his father.

It was through a bit of prompting by his girlfriend, and a 23andMe DNA kit, that Alex Walker was finally able to meet up with his biological father, Patrick.

The 29-year-old Walker is a student at Portland Community College and is preparing for a career in nursing.

Walker was brought up by his grandparents.

"When I was really young, I would say probably 3 or 4, my mom gave up custody to me to my grandparents," Walker said. "I was raised by my grandparents. I didn't really know my mom."

At the age of 15, Walker discovered his mom on Myspace.

"She had a whole page dedicated to finding me, which opened up a whole can of worms. There was just a lot of family anger on all sides for me. I kind of shut down with family completely," he said.

Walker then joined the military and asked to be stationed in Colorado.

"I met up with Mom at 18 years old when I got to my first duty station," Walker said. "It wasn't as exciting a moment as I thought it was going to be. I think it was for her, but it wasn't for me. That relationship just wasn't there."

Walker said that while stationed in Colorado, he was never able to get a straight answer about his father, either from his grandmother or his mom.

"I think, in reality, my mom just didn't know who he was — which is fine, but she never said that," he said.

For a period of time, Walker let up on his efforts to find his father.

"I kind of gave up on it," he said. "I was fine with just being angry about it. That was my normal. That was fine."

After his military service, which included a stint in Alaska, Walker moved back to California.

Shortly after he started dating his current girlfriend, she got Walker the 23andMe DNA kit.

Walker moved to Sherwood in March 2019, and shortly thereafter, he received DNA test results, which revealed his father's identity. Walker messaged his dad and received a response back.

"He messaged and said, 'Oh my god, I just looked and it says you're my son,'" Walker remembered. "That's kind of where everything started."

Walker said his father asked for a photo of Walker's mother — whom he remembered as a one-night stand who hadn't contacted him again.

"That dissipated all my anger, because he didn't know. How could I be mad at him?" Walker said.

In June 2019, Walker and his girlfriend flew to California to meet up with his father, his half-sister and half-brother.

"If was a very quick trip — about 24 hours," Walker recalled. "But it was surreal. It was seeing someone who has my sense of humor, my height — all these things that no one else in my family has. It's crazy to see that a sense of humor can be genetic, because obviously he didn't raise me."

Walker now stays in touch with his dad, whether through text, phone calls or in-person visits.

"I've seen him twice more since then," he said. "I probably will again in the next few weeks. COVID kind of put a break on some of the plans."

Addressing other kids or young adults who may be facing the same challenges, Walker cautioned, "Obviously, it could turn out to be bad. You could find out that parent does know who you are and didn't want anything to do with you, or is a very bad person."

Walker continued, "I feel lucky in the sense that I got the family father figure that I never got to have. I know that's not for everybody, but answers give closure, whether it's good or bad."


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