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'I have to come home,' Kernersville woman traveling to meet birth family despite pandemic

Mari Moore has waited 55 years to meet her birth family and she said that's long enough after a recent health scare.

KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — It started with a DNA test.

Mari Moore had a heart attack last June and wanted to know if heart conditions run in her birth family.

"[The doctors] were asking me all kinds of questions and I couldn't give answers to them," said Moore, "I really went through life not thinking about my birth mother."

She got the results from her Ancestry.com test and found cousins on her birth father's side through the site. When they couldn't help her figure out exactly who her dad was, she thought she hit a dead end.

Then she found a woman online who helps connect people with lost family. Within weeks, Moore was video chatting with her birth mom, two brothers and a sister on Mother's Day.

It changed everything.

"I said, I have to come home I have to meet you, I waited too long," said Moore.

Moore left New York in the late 1980s and has lived in North Carolina ever since. She is married with children.

She and her husband will fly out of Piedmont Triad International Airport Thursday morning to begin the 800 mile trip during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've been told to wipe the seats down on the airplane," said Moore who will also be wearing a mask.

Her birth family lives in a small town on the Canadian border called Ogdensburg, NY and she said the virus hasn't hit hard there. The county health department reported less than 200 cases Wednesday.

Several members of Moore's birth family have been keeping her mother, who is in her 70s, isolated to protect her from the virus. 

Moore said she and her husband will stop at a hotel close to her birth mother's home to change and shower before visiting.

The precautions make traveling more difficult and worry about spreading the virus is setting in for Moore as her departure grows nearer. 

Her health conditions put her more at risk if she does catch it but she said waiting isn't an option.

"I feel like if I wait I'm never going to get to see her because something medically could happen," said Moore.

She wants pictures together, memories and the chance to touch rather than see each other through a screen. No virus could ever take that away.

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