LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville woman has been searching her whole life for someone. More than 60 years later, with the help of a genetic testing kit and perseverance, came answers.
"I tell the story of a little girl," Marsha Smith Bingham said. "Growing up I always knew I was different from my family."
Bingham has always felt that there was a piece of her life that was missing. She finds strength in her faith and gives a lot of her time to her church at Living Faith Christian Ministries in Louisville. Over the years, she’s prayed for one thing.
"I don't know if he's alive but, one day Lord I really want to meet him," Bingham said. "I don't care about the past, I just want to know him."
Bingham has been looking for her father. She only knew three things about him: his name was Cruz Cordero, he is Puerto Rican, and she had one photo of him.
Her mother was 17 when she fell in love with him around 1955, while Cordero was a soldier at Fort Knox. He ended up getting deployed to Japan and left not knowing that he was a father.
Marsha’s mother eventually wrote him a letter to tell him that she was pregnant and he wrote back, but she decided to end it.
"She loved him and she felt broken when he was gone so, she said let's forget about it and move on," Bingham said.
Cordero looked for his daughter, but had no luck.
Bingham thought a lot about the father she never had. Over the years, she looked for him, too, even before the internet and Facebook. She never found him.
Then, four years ago she decided to try 23andMe, a genetic testing kit to learn more about her background. She got some answers.
“I am 49-point something Sub-Saharian African, and 34 percent European -- that is my Spaniard side,” Bingham said.
Then on Valentine’s Day this year, she was checking her email and saw a message from 23andMe. She almost deleted it.
It was something totally unexpected.
A 29-year-old named Kiara Cordero in North Carolina sent her a message via 23andMe.
Kiara Cordero got a 23andMe kit for Christmas and this is where the story comes together. The DNA service told Kiara that she had a match with a woman in Louisville.
“I saw that she was looking for someone with the last name Cordero,” Kiara Cordero said.
Turns out the long-lost Cruz Cordero is Kiara’s grandfather’s uncle and Kiara Cordero is Bingham’s fourth cousin!
"I was like oh my God," Kiara Cordero said. "This keeps on getting interesting."
With the help of Kiara Cordero’s father, in a matter of minutes a three-way phone call that took Bingham 62 years of praying finally happened on February 14.
“Hi, this is your daughter,” Bingham said on the phone. “I have been looking for you my whole life!”
"Yes, I have been looking for you too since your mother wrote me," Cruz Cordero said.
“I still live in Louisville, Kentucky.” Bingham said.
"You have six brothers and sisters," Cruz Cordero said.
Bingham was beyond excited. She finally heard what she had been waiting for.
“He said I have looked for you always,” Bingham said. “That’s all I needed. That’s all the little girl needed was that you did. You didn’t leave me. You didn’t forget about me. I don’t know if people understand how important it is to know that you are wanted, but I never felt that until Valentine’s Day 2019.”
Father and daughter immediately swapped photos.
“We look so much alike,” Bingham said. “Happiness and joy, sweetness and I see it with these people.”
Cruz Cordero told Bingham that his entire family has always known about his long-lost daughter. He is 85-years-old now and lives in Florida.
“To hear that man’s voice call my name he said Marsha! Awwwww! I could have flown to Kissimmee,” Bingham said.
They talk and text everyday now.
"Blessing on my life to give me a complete family," Bingham said.
Marsha said she’s going to learn Spanish and plans to visit her father and new family in April.
"Thank you Lord for what you have given me," Bingham said.
Bingham said she plans on changing her last name to Cordero. Her father was excited to learn about his new grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Bingham also plans to visit other family members in Puerto Rico in June.
Her mother passed away nine years ago, but she knows that she would be so happy for her.