Man discovers he was a baby who was switched at birth after DNA test


March 9, 2023 | 18:12

Growing up in a rural town near Buffalo, NY, Andy Perkins had a sense of feeling out of place in his own family.

Perkins has blue eyes and fair hair. His parents and siblings all had darker complexions and were taller. He was outgoing while they were more reserved.

“I’ve always looked different from the rest of my family,” Perkins, 73, who now lives in Grand Prairie, Texas, told The Post. “It’s given me trouble over the years.”

He started acting out in middle school. He had severe ADHD and began to think he might have been adopted, but it was dismissed as adolescent rebellion.

Overall, his childhood was happy and his parents – Shirley and Jim – were loving and supportive. “Most people have those feelings in their teenage years like they don’t belong,” Perkins said.

Andrew “Andy” Perkins (far left) with his non-biological family. Parents Shirley (top left) and Jim (top right) Perkins worked for a Christian ministry.
Family distribution
Andy (top row, second from left) as a teenager pictured with the Perkins family. His features – including his hair and eyes – were visibly much lighter.
Family distribution

Decades later, he would find out it wasn’t just teenage angst.

In 2015, his daughter, Candi Perkins Summers, now 47, began looking into her family history. In 2017, she gave both of her parents DNA tests using and realized that her father was not biologically related to any of his relatives on the Perkins side.

Instead, she noted that her father was related to a number of people with the last name Robinson spread across Rochester and Warsaw, NY — where Perkins was born — along with Tennessee and South Carolina.

“I looked at the list of DNA matches for my father and I didn’t recognize a single last name,” Summers told The Post. “It was odd.”

Her father needed time to process the situation.

“It took him about three weeks to say ‘go ahead and contact the biological family,'” Summers said.

“At the time, these were random strangers.”

The following year someone messaged her who appeared to be Andy’s biological cousin. He was from the same area near Buffalo in Wyoming County, NY.

“I thought maybe my dad wasn’t related to the dad who raised him, but I didn’t know why,” Summers said.

Left: Pauline Robinson, Andy Perkins’ biological mother, with baby Phil, who was probably switched at birth. Right: Andy pictured with the mother who raised him, Shirley Perkins, who died in 2021.
Andy Perkins (left) and his biological father, Harold S. Robinson. Robinson was in the Army and served in South Korea at the end of World War II before becoming an insurance agent. He died in 2016 at the age of 88 from an illness.

She and her father were convinced that he was not adopted, nor could they imagine that the sane, religious parents who had raised him would have abandoned their marriage vows.

Then, in 2020, she found an archived newspaper clipping of her father’s birth announcement that seemed to solve the mystery.

Just below the message to Perkins, she found a reference to a boy named Philip, said to have been born to Harold S. and Pauline McElwain Robinson on September 12 in Warsaw – the day before her father was allegedly born in the same small hospital.

“I realized the parents who raised him were not his biological parents,” Summers said.

That’s when she broke the news to her father: He was probably switched at birth.

“It all made sense,” Perkins told The Post. The discovery left him feeling vindicated and relieved after all those years of teenage isolation.

Andy Perkins (left), at age 2 with his non-biological brother, Sam. Sam was actually the biological sibling of baby Philip Robinson (inset).

The father-daughter duo also suspected that baby Philip, who died just weeks after his 6th birthday from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, had actually been Shirley and Jim Perkins’ biological son.

Perkins’ biological mother, Pauline McElwain Robinson, was a longtime Warsaw resident who worked as a lab technician at Wyoming County Community Hospital and died in 2015 at age 90.

She was the first wife of Andy’s biological father, Harold S. Robinson, who was in the Army and served in South Korea at the end of World War II before becoming an insurance agent.

He died in 2016 at the age of 88 from an illness, according to his obituary.

Andy’s biological mother, Pauline McElwain Robinson, a longtime Warsaw resident who worked as a lab technician at Wyoming County Community Hospital, died in 2015 at age 90.

“I went to the cemeteries of my biological mother and father. I started a grieving process — not only grieving that I never met them, but grieving their deaths,” Perkins said.

“It was an unexpected and difficult thing.”

However, in July 2020, Perkins was able to connect with his biological siblings – Brian, 68; Sally, 69; Lisa, 58; and Doug, who has since passed away.

“When we all met that summer, we called each other almost every day,” Perkins said.

“I have been welcomed with open arms. It’s fun to sit and see how similar we’ve grown up in two different worlds,” he added, noting that they all love liverwurst and while listening to music, they tend to switch songs halfway through.

Andy with his biological siblings, Doug, Brian and Sally.

In 2021, Perkins and Summers – who both work for the nonprofit organization BESTWA, which provides food, medical care and education to families in Africa – also revealed the news to the mother who raised him, Shirley Perkins.

She was not shocked and simply replied, “Isn’t the Lord good?”

A few months later, she died at the age of 91.

Perkins, who now uses Robinson-Perkins as her last name, believes the discovery brought everyone a sense of peace and closure.

“I felt like I was finding out who I am. I’m getting closer to my Perkins family and my Robinson family,” he said. “Many people have no family. I am blessed with two wonderful, loving families.”

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