Growing up in a rural town near Buffalo, New York, Andy Perkins had a sense of displacement in his family.
Perkins has blue eyes and light hair. His parents and siblings were all darker-skinned and taller. He was an extrovert, while they were more reserved.
“I’ve always looked different from the rest of my family,” Perkins, 73, who now lives in Grand Prairie, Texas, told The Post. “It has caused me trouble over the years.”
He started acting in middle school. He had severe ADHD and was beginning to think he might have been adopted, but it was dismissed as teenage rebelliousness.
In general, his childhood was happy, and his parents – Shirley and Jim – were loving and supportive. “Most people have those feelings in their teen years that they don’t belong,” Perkins said.
Decades later, he discovered it wasn’t just teenage angst.
In 2015, his daughter, 47-year-old Kandi Perkins Summers, began looking into her family history. In 2017, she took DNA tests of her parents using Ancestry.com She realized that her father was not biologically related to any of his relatives on the Perkins side.
Instead, she notes, her father was related to a large number of people with the last name Robinson scattered throughout Rochester and Warsaw, New York—where Perkins was born—along with Tennessee and South Carolina.
“I looked at my dad’s DNA matching list and didn’t recognize a single last name,” Summers told The Post. “It was strange.”
Her father needed time to process the situation.
“It took about three weeks for him to say, ‘Go ahead and call the biological family,'” Summers said.
“At that point, those were random strangers.”
The following year, someone sent her a message who appeared to be Andy’s biological cousin. He was from the same area near Buffalo, in Wyoming County, New York.
“I thought maybe my dad wasn’t related to the father who raised him but I didn’t know why,” Summers said.
She and her father were convinced that he had not been adopted, and they also did not imagine that the healthy, religious parents who raised him had strayed from their marital vows.
Then, in 2020, she came across an archived newspaper clipping, with her father’s birth announcement, that seemed to solve the mystery.
Just below Perkins’ ad, I find a reference to a boy named Philip, said to have been born to Harold S. Pauline McElwain Robinson On September 12th in Warsaw – the day before her father was born in the same small hospital.
“I realized that the parents who raised him weren’t his biological parents,” Summers said.
That’s when she broke the news to her father: He was likely converted at birth.
“It all made sense,” Perkins told The Post. The discovery left him feeling relieved and validated after all those years of teenage solitude.
The father-daughter duo also expected baby Philip, who died just weeks short of his sixth birthday Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomaHe was actually the biological son of Shirley and Jim Perkins.
Perkins’ biological mother, Pauline McElwain Robinson, was a longtime resident of Warsaw who worked as a laboratory technician at Wyoming County Hospital and died in 2015 at the age of 90.
She was the first wife of Andy’s biological father, Harold S. Robinson, who was in the military and served in South Korea at the end of World War II before becoming an insurance agent.
He passed away in 2016 at the age of 88 from an illness, according to his obituary.
I went to the graves of my father and mother. I started a grieving process — not just grieving that I had never met them, but grieving that they had died,” Perkins said.
“It was something unexpected and difficult.”
In July 2020, Perkins was able to communicate with his biological siblings — Brian, 68; Sally, 69; Lisa, 58; and Doug, who has since passed away.
“Once we all got together that summer, we called each other almost every day,” Perkins said.
“I was greeted with open arms. It’s fun to sit back and see how we grew up in two different worlds,” he added, noting that they all love liveries and while listening to music they tend to switch songs halfway through.
In 2021, Perkins and Summers – both working at non-profit BESTWA, that provide food, medical care and education to families in Africa – as revealed by the mother who You raised it, Shirley Perkins.
She was not shocked and simply said: “Is not the Lord good?”
A few months later, she passed away at the age of 91.
Perkins, who now uses Robinson Perkins as his nickname, believes the discovery made everyone feel at peace and finished.
“I felt like I had discovered who I was. I had become closer to my Perkins family and my Robinson family,” he said. “A lot of people don’t have a family. I’m rich with two wonderful, loving families.”
“Beer aficionado. Gamer. Alcohol fanatic. Evil food trailblazer. Avid bacon maven.”