In the fall of last year, twin brothers Steve and Dave Bibel reconnected with their birth mother, thanks to genetic testing.
The brothers were adopted at birth in 1960 and never knew anything about their biological parents or why they were placed for adoption. Prompted by curiosity about his past and the desire for a personal medical history, Brentwood resident Steve joined 23andMe, a genomics and biotechnology company. He ended up finding more than he bargained for.
“I received a message through 23andMe from a woman named Betty asking me about details in my bio,” Steve said, noting that his bio stated he was looking for his birth parents. “She said she could be my aunt.”
Betty then questioned her older sister, Marge Garguilo, and was able to confirm the story.
Sixty years ago, Garguilo was 19 when she found herself pregnant in New York state. Her mother then sent her to her aunt in California to give birth to her babies, where she was given little choice in their future, aside from the choice of giving them life. Garguilo said she never told anyone at the time about her pregnancy, including her sister, Betty.
“I had just turned 19,” she recalled. “They sent me to California to live with my aunt. So no one knew about it except for my mother, father, grandmother and my aunt.”
Garguilo spent her time in California working the front desk of her aunt’s pet salon in Glendale. When the time came to give birth, she was surprised with not one, but two babies. She was able to make two conditions attached to their adoption – they must stay together, and they must go to a Catholic family. Steve and Dave were adopted by an older couple and grew up in Southern California.
Garguilo returned home, where she married and went on to have three children with her husband. She said she did tell him of her previous pregnancy before getting married.
“Children’s services did send me a picture of them, and then that was it,” Garguilo said. “Years later, I tried to locate them, but never could. They were always on my mind.”
Now, 60 years later, Garguilo said this relationship has been everything she hoped for. When she learned of her Betty’s connection with Steve, she reached out and met her twin sons for the first time through Google Duo.
“It’s amazing,” Steve said of meeting his birth mother and half siblings. “It’s opened up a new window of family . . . we had some closure, because I know a lot more about our biological family and our mom, and she has been a Godsend. She has been very transparent, very open and honest, and it’s been amazing getting to know her.”
In November, Steve and Dave both flew to Phoenix – where Garguilo lives – to celebrate her 80th birthday and meet their new family in person.
Before meeting the Bibels, Garguilo said she prepared her family. She called her sons who live far away and drove to tell her daughter – who lives nearby – about her first pregnancy. Now the connection has been made, she said she has enjoyed getting to know a whole new group of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“There’s nothing negative in this story,” she said. “The only negative thing for me is I waited all these years with this revolving thing inside of me wondering, and saying I wish I knew, but at least everything has turned out wonderful.”
Her sons agree. Dave – a hospice chaplain in Dallas – said he is thankful for his birth mother’s courage in the face of social disapproval when she chose to give them life.
“When I think about what she had to do, knowing she didn’t have a place to go if she was thinking about keeping us, she had to make some decisions, and she made decisions that were life-changing for me and my brother,” he said.