Last Updated 12/6/2022

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Utah father united with his daughter after more than 30 years thanks to a MyHeritage home DNA test, and they crossed paths without knowing it. 

Living just 20 minutes apart, father, Criss Rosenlof, and daughter, Rachael Robertson, both went to FanX the same year. Robertson and her family cosplayed as characters from the show Firefly. While Robertson walked to another booth with her son, her husband, Jake Robertson, was approached by Rosenlof. 

“I happened to be going by the firefly booth, and Jake was dressed as Captain Malcolm Reynolds, and I immediately walked over and started talking to this guy and having a good time. Not knowing at all that he’s my daughter’s husband,” Rosenlof said. 

Ten minutes passed, Rosenlof left, and Rachael Robertson returned to the family group, not knowing she had missed her father by minutes. 

It wasn’t until years later that the pair made the connection. 

“[It was hard] knowing for all these years she was out there, and I had no idea how to find her,” Rosenlof said. 

Rosenlof and his girlfriend at the time got pregnant and chose not to keep their baby, Rachael Robertson.

“We loved each other, but we weren’t in love with each other and decided not to marry,” Rosenlof said. 

Rosenlof’s ex chose to give the baby up for adoption, and when Rachael Robertson was born, she asked if Rosenlof wanted to meet his daughter. 

“I was a young, punk, scared kid, and I said no at the time because I knew if I met her, I wouldn’t be able to let her go. So, I said no, which I’ve always regretted,” Rosenlof said. 

Over the years, Criss put out “feelers” to find his daughter, but it wasn’t until DNA came along that the two could unite. 

Rachael Robertson used DNA first, having been inspired by her adoptive sister’s journey to finding her own parents. 

“I felt jealous,” Rachael Robertson said. 

She decided first to search for her family to understand her health and family history. She found distant cousins, some even living as far as the United Kingdom, but it wouldn’t be for nearly a year and a half that she would find her father. 

Without realizing it, they had both applied to MyHeritage DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative by family history site MyHeritage to reunite adoptees with biological families via free DNA kits.

“[When I found my father], it was terrifying. I threw my phone across the room and screamed and freaked out,” Rachael Robertson said. 

Once she calmed down, she realized how good it was to know there had been a reason to search for her family and there had been a person out there also looking. 

“I was just so excited at that point just to know more. Instead of just knowledge, I got this whole addition to my family, which has been so fun,” Rachael Robertson said. 

The two couldn’t be more similar. When Rosenlof and Rachael Robertson met, they clicked immediately. 

“We’re family. That’s what it is. Rachael and I talk almost daily now about weird little things back and forth because we’re geeks. I’m the king of the geeks, just so you know,” Rosenlof said. 

Rachael Robertson was quick to respond that she outgeeked him by far. And for bitterness between adoptive and biological families? There’s none. 

“Criss is just Criss, my dad, but my dad is also my dad. I just got a bonus dad, now. And my kids call him Papa Criss, and they call my dad Papa,” Rachael Robertson said. 

Rachael Robertson was quickly accepted into Rosenlof’s family, and she was even invited to be a bridesmaid at one of Rosenlof’s daughters’ weddings. 

As for her mother, Rachael Robertson received letters written by her mother before she was born and after she was sent to her new family. She would like to see her, but she won’t push a relationship.  

“I know that she did what was best, and she gave me this absolutely wonderful life. I can’t thank her enough for that, but it would ultimately be her choice to connect with me because it was such a stigma back 33 years ago to give up a child and have a child when you’re unwed, and I would never want to infringe upon her life [or anybody else’s life],” Rachael Robertson said, then turned to her father and said, “Except him. He’s stuck with me now.” 

Rosenlof said that adoption is sometimes the best thing for people, and he believes that Rachael Robertson had a much better life being adopted than what he could give her at that time. 

“Never feel bad that you might have to give someone up for adoption because sometimes you’re doing them a big favor,” Rosenlof said. “And then with wanting to find people in your family, especially lost children or parents, there are multiple options out there.”

Rachael Robertson agreed. 

“You should never give up hope of finding out information. It might not happen now. It might happen thirty years down the road. Whether you get a loving reunion and added to the family or just find out the circumstances and why it happened. It’s knowing your history, and that’s really important,” Rachael Robertson said.