Transcript for Woman's yearslong search to find biological father
Amanda holdingness has felt incomplete. Raised by a single mother, grandmother, and god parents. She's never known her father and spent years searching for him in vain. Tonight her story finally has a happy ending. Here's ABC's Elizabeth vargas. I'm so nervous right now. I cannot wait until I get that call. Reporter: Amanda holdingness' life is about to change. On the other end of that call -- Hey, there. Hey, how are you? Reporter: Someone with an answer to a question she's been asking her whole life. Are you ready? Yes, ma'am. Reporter: Who is her father? ??? Happy birthday ??? Reporter: We started following her quest to find him two years ago. A doting mother herself with her own son making his birthday wishes. Moments that hearken back to her own childhood of birthday wishes. Wishes that have always been the same. To find her dad. I wanted to have a father that I would be the apple of his eye. You know, I wanted to be that daddy's girl. Reporter: Her mother had given her a name for the man she believed was Amanda's father. But other details were scarce. She described him having dark brown hair and I was thinking about Elvis. Reporter: And Amanda says she described a man who wasn't thrilled to learn at the time that he was going to be a father. So Amanda's single mother moved back home to Mississippi to raise Amanda with the help of her own family, never to hear from him again. The absence of a father was felt all the time, but especially painful for Amanda on her wedding day. I've always seen ladies walk down the aisle with their father. And I never got it. Reporter: So when she saw investigative genealogist Pam Slaton featured on "20/20," helping people find biological relatives. You're so beautiful. Reporter: She reached out. We were like amazed how she found long-lost loved ones. This is how it happens. My stats are broken up by current, not feeling it, driving me crazy. Reporter: Pam, who is also a consultant for ABC news, was confident she could help Amanda. So she took on her case, which she thought seemed simple enough. All I did was give her five things about where he was from, where he lived when they met -- I put in the biological father's name. She called me, guess what? I said what? She said, I found him. I just -- I started crying. I said, are you serious? She said, yes. Reporter: But Amanda's happiness is short lived. They did a DNA test just to be sure. When I sat down with Amanda just a few months later, she says the results were shocking. It came back saying that he wasn't my father. That must have been devastating for you. Yeah. You've been told all your life that this man was your father. And he wasn't. No. Did you want to give up? At first I did. Reporter: Pam Slaton stuck with her after the crushing news. She headed down to Mississippi to see her in person. And we are off! Reporter: Pam also wants to meet with Amanda's mother who she hoped could offer a morsel, a memory, something that could help put her on the right path. It would be crucial to get her to talk about when she got pregnant, when she was just 24 years old, living with her sister. She was serving in the national Guard. Still in school, trying to figure her life out. When she found out she was pregnant. When I sit down with her I'll see if she's being genuine and just doesn't really know, or is she trying to keep you from the truth for another reason we don't know about. Hi, honey, how are you? Doing good. Oh my god, this is beautiful. Let me look at you. I wasn't having kids. She was a miracle. Reporter: Amanda's mother reveals she was with more than one man during the time Amanda was conceived. I was wild when I was young. I guess in a way I was looking for that love that I didn't have. I think it's amazing that you have the courage to sit here and talk about this. I can see you genuinely want to help Amanda. I believe that your heart's in the right place. Reporter: Another man comes into focus. Amanda's mother offers up Samuel Skinner. Samuel, I lived with him before. You had a relationship with him prior? Right. I will be right back. Reporter: Pam returns with contact information for Samuel Skinner and the case again appears to be wrapped up. I want you to make the phone call. It's scary but I'll get you through it. Reporter: Pam coaches Amanda. What she says could make or break her chance to make a connection with her potential birth father. I want you he agrees to do a DNA test. I'm just -- You don't want to say? I don't want to say. I just really hope my journey ends here. When you met Samuel for the first time, what was that like? He kept on doing this. And he kept on -- I was like, why are you staring at me like that? He's like, girl, you are a spitting image of your mama. No matter how it turns out -- Reporter: Their meeting is just the beginning of the bonding between Amanda and the possible father she's always been hoping for. But she's careful not to get her hopes up too high, having already been down this road once before. You hope you are her biological dad this. Well, yes, who wouldn't? I mean, want a 30-year-old daughter that's not going to talk back to you no more, have grandkids I can spoil and send them home, you know. Who wouldn't want that? Reporter: The test results are in a few weeks later. Amanda is at Pam's house to find out. The outcome is shocking. So, Amanda. I know you've been down a long, long road. He is not your birth father. It's coming up negative. Sorry. You all right? I know. You've been down a long, tough road. Okay. To have this girl who was so excited to finally put this behind her, and to give her this devastating news that it wasn't a match was not an easy job to do. Reporter: Amanda calls Sam, who was anxiously awaiting the news. Hello? Hey, Samuel? Yeah, this Amanda? Yeah, this is Amanda. What's going on? Well -- they told me what the results are with the DNA. Okay. And? It's -- not good. I haven't even called mama yet to let her know. Well, maybe you need to accept it yourself. I'll try and give your father advice. You don't know which way to go now. Amanda, go with what you're feeling. I hope you don't stop your search. Especially you're going for something you need. Don't let people discourage you. Reporter: Sam tells Amanda he's ready to stay in her life even though he's not her birth father. Take care now. Bye-bye. Thanks. That's the second man I've said that to. Which speaks to who you are. You have two men that fell in love with you and would love to have you as a daughter. Reporter: Overwhelmed, Amanda grapples with her feelings. I will remain committed to you and getting to the bottom of this, I promise you. On my word, I promise you that I will do everything in my power to help you. Reporter: The owner of the DNA database company that Amanda did her tests with offers another possible step. If your mother would be willing to do a DNA test, we can do what we call a triangulation. Reporter: It's a hail Mary. How distant a relative can there be in your data bank? For you to have the beginnings of a thread for Pam to follow? We need to find a third cousin or closer. We could find siblings of your great grandfather's children's children. Which would be lots of people today. When "Nightline" returns, the key that finally unlocks the answers. Now are you ready? That Amanda's wanted her
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