The tests you get on sites like Ancestry and 23andMe are pretty cool for a bunch of reasons. Obviously, you can see what you’re made of.
Just a little bit of saliva can identify where your ancestors originated.
But it can also uncover some huge family secrets — especially if everyone in the family takes a test at the same time. And that’s exactly how Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson accidentally learned he had a secret daughter that he didn’t even know about.
That in itself must be an alarming surprise, especially since the daughter in question is 45 years old. It’s truly a situation neither one of them could have expected.
However, they’re both making the most of it. The big question is, did her mom name her Phyllis on purpose to pay homage to her dad? If not, that’s a strange coincidence.
Phil openly introduced Phyllis on a recent episode of his Unashamed podcast. Here’s everything you need to know about how this reunion occurred.
According to People magazine, Phyllis only learned that something was up after her son submitted his DNA to a company for analysis. Everything he got back seemed wrong from what he was told growing up. That prompted Phyllis to get tested along with her sisters.
The results showed that they weren’t as closely related as Phyllis initially thought. They were actually her half-siblings, which proved that she actually didn’t know who her birth father was. That caused her to do a lot of research and try to fill in the blanks.
“A little digging, internet searches, looking through the site, and put together a family tree, so to speak,” Phyllis said. “My husband helped me with it. We filled in a lot of blanks.” Eventually, she figured it might be Phil — which to many seems strange. Reality shows are popular, but not many of us may have unknowingly been watching our birth father on television before.
Phyllis made initial contact by personally visiting the Robertsons’ church with a letter in hand. “I was nervous,” she said. “I sat out in the parking lot, thinking, am I really going to do this?” However, not doing it would have also been a mistake. You never know people will react to such big news.
During that day in particular, Phil was actually preaching. Phyllis more or less saw this as a sign that it could be the perfect day for a reveal. “I thought, how cool is it that the first time I’m seeing my dad, he’s preaching the gospel?” she said. To her, that also helped ease some of the pressure.
When they eventually met in person, Phil was nothing but loving and accepting. This is big news for anyone to grasp, so it’s especially meaningful that his very first words to Phyllis were, “Girl, you’re the best thing that ever came out of my past.” And he really meant it. Phil had a much more out-of-control life before embracing religion.
But some of his strong, religious views that creep up in interviews and on his podcast have gotten him in trouble in the past. Phil single-handedly caused production of A&E’s Duck Dynasty to stop back in 2013 after a few controversial opinions ended up in GQ. Since Phil was a public figure who represented the network at the time, it didn’t sit well. It also alienated him from some of his audience.
Phyllis and Phil immediately saw similarities in each other’s personalities while meeting for the first time. That in itself makes you wonder how many of your own quirks and traits are ingrained in your DNA. “It was just like puzzle pieces clicking into place,” Phyllis said.
That said, she swears she’s never watched Duck Dynasty before. But she tried. At first. “I had no preconceived ideas, really,” she said. “I tried to watch a couple episodes. It felt like, you know, that’s not what I want my first impression to be.” But maybe now is the perfect time for a marathon.
On the podcast, Phil also mentioned the similarity of their names. It’s a good thing he never chose the name Phyllis for another child, or even a family pet. Because, that’d get pretty awkward. “Phyllis, all I can tell you is, I’m glad you found me. I’m glad I found you,” he said.
Meeting a long-lost parent doesn’t always have such positive results. Sometimes, the paternity was kept secret for a reason. Other times, the parent fears that the news will interrupt the lives they’ve already established for themselves. So having Phil be so welcoming right off the bat is pretty incredible.
Even better, this is the first girl for Phil. He has four sons who are well known to his fans — Willie Robertson, Jase Robertson, Alan Robertson, and Jules Jeptha Robertson. And they all have their own families as well — so Phyllis and her son have a lot of quick memorizing to do.
Phil can’t believe that it took 45 years for the big reveal. “It’s a pretty cool explanation of redemption, reconciliation, love,” he said. “As it turns out, 45 years, you have a daughter that you don’t know about, and she has a father she doesn’t know about. Forty-five years, that doesn’t sound like very long but you say, that’s a while. So finally, after all those years, we come together.”
Phil and Phyllis’ story may inspire others out there who may feel like something’s not adding up in their family. DNA kits have their pros and cons, but Phyllis likely never expected an outcome like this — especially since she wasn’t the one who initially took it. Hopefully, they’re able to flawlessly make up for lost time.