Making Connections

Through DNA testing, junior Grace Riley connected with her cousin Yi Mei Hahn.


Submitted by Alison Riley

Junior Grace Riley connected with her cousin Yi Mei Hahn through 23andMe DNA testing. The pair met for the first time at Houlihan’s Oct. 27 with their mothers, Alison Riley and Rose Hahn.

Kate Vankeirsbilck, Reporter

Junior Grace Riley grips the test tube firmly as she fills it with two milliliters of her own saliva. Participating in 23andMe genetic testing, Riley anxiously awaited her results as she sought to learn about her family history.

Riley was given the 23andMe test for Christmas last year and wanted to take the test to see what health conditions ran in her family. Being adopted from China at only 14 months old, there wasn’t much known about her genetic lineage. Determined to learn about her family connections in the Kansas City area and her genetic makeup, Riley turned to the test for answers. After filing up the tube twice—23andMe send it back for further testing—Riley was able to connect with her fifth cousin, Yi Mei Hahn.

“We got to know each other really well,” Riley said. 

She is now apart of my family and that is something that will never go away.”

— Junior Grace Riley

Hahn, and her mother, Rose Hahn, live here in Lee’s Summit—only 15 minutes from Riley. After receiving the news of their familial ties, Riley and her mother Alison Riley connected immediately with Hahn and Rose Hahn. Following conversations via telephone, the two mother-daughter duos scheduled a meeting at Houlihan’s for dinner. 

“The connection was very natural between both us and them when we first met. When they came in and started talking with us it felt like we had already met before,” Rose said. 

Walking in both parties had many emotions leading up to it, but when they sat down together it was like they had already met, according to Rose. Each parent shared their adopting process stories. The mothers reminisced about the past while Riley and Hahn made up for their lost time. Though the meal was over, both parties were in no rush to leave, according to Riley. Extending the meeting past their dinner, Riley, Hahn and their mothers walked around downtown Lee’s Summit continuing their introductions. Riley’s mother Alison said that they are eager to continue this relationship. 

“We plan to keep in contact with them,” Alison said. “Keeping the connection for both of the girls is very important.” 

This small connection, Riley said closes a big piece of her genetic history. Though Riley is content within her family, she is eager for it to extend even bigger to include Hahn. Adopting the big sister role, Riley said she couldn’t be more thankful for DNA testing Christmas gift. 

“I’m kind of like her big sister to her since she is an only child,” Riley said. “She is now apart of my family and that is something that will never go away.”