Louisville native finds her father in Australia through a DNA test
Alan Freedman traveled to Louisville in the late ’60s where he met Rosalind Mudd. He moved on never knowing he had a daughter. Until now.
Louisville Courier Journal
Nancy Galloway bought a DNA test kit in 2019 and hoped it might provide some interesting family insights.
Boy, was she in for a surprise.
The results of the test would unlock a long-held family secret and dramatically alter the life of this Louisville mother of six (three biological and three step-kids) and small business owner. The information not only affected Galloway, but it also surprised the heck out of a 79-year-old former surfer in Australia.
“It was like a bomb had gone off when I first learned I have had a daughter who was out in the world for 50 years without me knowing,” Alan Freedman told The Courier Journal.
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While not all DNA family discovery stories result in happy endings, this one is an uplifting doozy, from start to finish. It’s the story of an unconditional love that spans 50 years, stretches across two continents and the week before Thanksgiving, played out before our eyes in the waiting area of Louisville’s Muhammad Ali International Airport.
“I never realized how much it would mean for me to know my father before I found him,” Galloway told The Courier Journal as she waited for her dad in the airport lounge. “Growing up I never felt like I was missing having a dad, but in hindsight, for 50 years, there was a hole in my life.”
A leap of faith and an airport meeting
Thanks to a leap of faith on the part of both Galloway and Freedman, that hole has been filled to capacity. The love and affection this father and daughter feel for one another were visible as they ran into each other’s arms at the airport.
“When I first discovered my dad’s identity, my husband described it as ‘finding a treasure.’ He cautioned me that ‘going after treasure could be dangerous and disappointing,’ or it could ‘exceed all expectations,” said Galloway. “He said it would be up to my dad and me to decide if our relationship would be like ‘special occasion china that we only unpacked on holidays,’ or if would we maximize our time and make it a relationship we incorporate into our everyday lives.”
Galloway and Freedman chose that later, and for the past three years, the pair have fervently made up for their five decades of lost time.
DNA test reunites father and daughter 50 years later
Living in Australia Alan Freedman never knew he had a daughter growing up in Kentucky. 50 years later Nancy Galloway found her dad using a DNA test.
Audrey Kirby, Louisville Courier Journal
It’s a safe bet the father and daughter talk to one another more than most families who have known each other their entire lives. Their routine includes a daily face-to-face video chat filled with smiles and laughter. They play Wordle, exchange family news, and plan visits to each other’s homes.
Earlier this year, Galloway suggested her dad come to Louisville for Thanksgiving but told him to think it over for a couple of days. After all, it’s a 20-hour flight from Sydney, Australia to Kentucky, but Freedman, who is now 82 years old, didn’t need to think it over for long.
“We’ve already lost too much time and who knows where I will be next year when I am 83,” he said. “Of course, I made the trip.”
‘The line for ‘father’ was empty’ on Louisville woman’s birth certificate
It was during a work trip to Louisville and the Kentucky Derby in 1968 that Galloway and Freedman’s story truly began. Freedman met Rosalind Mudd when he traveled to Kentucky to collect information about potentially starting a business in Louisville. The two spent a couple of weeks together before Freedman carried on with his travels and flew to London and then back to Australia.
For 26 years, Mudd never told a soul about the Australian man who fathered her child.
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“Through the years, people have asked me about my ethnic background and my kids would come home from school with a family tree to fill out,” remembers Galloway. “I found my birth certificate when I was 12 years old and the line for ‘father’ was empty. I never had any information about where I came from on my father’s side. It was just a blank, and I had nothing to pass on to my children.”
Not that she hadn’t tried to find her dad — she had. When Galloway was 26 years old, her mother was dying and only then revealed the name of her father.
Thinking back on the day, Galloway remembers how nervous and embarrassed her mother was as she quietly disclosed the name of her daughter’s father and a small amount of information about the time they spent together in Louisville.
“I was so shocked by what she was telling me that I didn’t think to ask for specifics like how to spell my dad’s name,” Galloway said. “By the time I realized I needed that information it was too late — Mom died the day after she told me.”
Without the correct spelling, Galloway wasn’t sure if she was looking for Alan or Allen, and Freeman or Freidman. Occasionally through the years, she tried to find her father.
She searched through an Australian phone book, hired a private detective, and scoured the internet. But without her dad’s true first and last name and a more precise location than “the continent of Australia,” her hunt never yielded any real results.
Then, nearly 25 years after her mother’s death, that Ancestry.com DNA test came back with a match ― a cousin living in Australia named Mark Freedman.
Immediately, she crafted a note to her Australian cousin, careful to let him know she was only interested in finding out more about her ancestry and nothing more.
“I am a grown, financially sound woman and I just want to know my heritage,” she wrote.
She hit “send” and anxiously hoped for a reply from halfway around the world.
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With love, from Australia to Kentucky
Meanwhile, 9,000 miles away in Australia, Mark Freedman was waking up to a jaw-dropping email. He quickly got to work and contacted his Uncle Al with the stunning news — Alan Freedman had a daughter in the United States who wanted to know him better.
It took a bit of time, but when Mark Freedman replied to Galloway’s email, it was more than she could have hoped to receive.
“Hi Nancy,” wrote Mark Freedman. “It looks like you have found your dad. I have contacted my Uncle Al, and he has encouraged me to make contact with you and let you know that he will certainly be in touch with you very soon. I am happy to let you know that your dad is a lovely, lovely man and part of a large and loving family. Welcome to the family.”
From that point on, although separated by thousands of miles, Alan Freedman and his daughter have become inseparable.
“As soon as we found each other in 2019, Dad and one of his sons, my brother, came to meet me in Louisville,” Galloway said. “I’ve taken my husband and kids to Australia. I have gone to Sydney on my own and both sides of the family met up in Hawaii. We are committed to getting together every year.”
Galloway calls her dad “the sweetest man alive,” and relishes in the fact that she has two younger brothers with families of their own in Australia. She also has uncles, aunts and grandparents and great-grandparents she never knew existed.
“I was blessed to grow up in Louisville with an amazing older and a large and loving family,” she said. “Now I have two younger brothers in Sydney and younger nephews and nieces there, too. Best of all, my own children can now fill in their family tree and it includes so much more family than we could have ever imagined.”
Background: Thankful for family: DNA test leads Louisville woman to dad across the world in Australia
Like their father, Freedman’s two grown sons and their families have seamlessly welcomed Galloway and her family into their lives.
“Nancy is such a gift, ” Freedman said as the two clasped hands and began walking out of the airport. “I tell anyone who will listen, ‘I have a daughter and I don’t want to waste a moment of getting to know everything about her.'”
And for Galloway, this Thanksgiving is another reminder of the irreplaceable gift she received three years ago ― a father she never knew she needed and for whom she is beyond grateful to have in her life today.
“I have unconditional love,” she said. “I have this wonderfully large and loving family on both sides, and a sense of completeness which is indescribable.”
Reach features reporter Kirby Adams at Kadams@courier-journal.com.