Intentions

16 Jun

With the alternatives to finding my answer dropping fast, all I could do was hope to hear back from Anna and her father. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him reaching out to father #1’s daughter but I kept reminding myself that he took the DNA test because he too wanted to find the answer and this is his family. If he thinks it is the right thing to do, I have to trust that. While the initial search was mine, it also became his and I have to be respectful of how he wants to proceed. If he prefers not to reach out to Father #2 until it is necessary, I want to respect those wishes. He has his reasons for however he wants to handle it. That means if he has other means he wants to pursue, I need to respect those wishes as well and allow him the time he needs to do things his way.

It doesn’t mean I am giving up. It means that we share in this search and since it is his direct family I want to step back and allow him to do it his way. Especially as my goal is to find the answer I seek with the least amount of damage possible. I would much prefer for the only people who know about this search are Anna, her father (and his wife) and Father #2. Anyone else beyond that should only know about it because they as a family choose to share.  My goal in all of this is to find an answer to a question that I have always wanted to know. Something I never thought I would have a chance at. A name. A face. A few stories. That is it.

If it is Father #1, he has passed away. There is no reason his family needs to know about me! Maybe he knew about me, maybe he didn’t. But if he did and chose not to be a part of my life, it is not my place to try to insert myself into his family after he is gone. Especially as he is not here for them to talk to and ask questions to help them better understand.

If it is Father #2, this is our story. His and mine. If he chose to share that with his family, that is up to him. But I would never ask him to. He has had his life all these years. His wife, children, grandchildren. I am not here to disturb that. All I want is to know. To complete my story. His secret is safe with me….well, and my readers 😉 But all names have been changed to protect people so ultimately, his secret is still safe with me 🙂

I guess what I am saying is….

For anyone out there who thinks that I am being too protective, I am doing it because I believe it is the right thing. While yes, I am doing this for myself and yes I deserve the answers, I have been raised to be respectful of others and to know that sometimes there are things that are greater than ourselves. Family is important. Family is also not always something you are born into. Meaning….your mom and your dad are not always the people who “created” you. Sometimes they are the people that “make” you. They are the ones who love you, take care of you, raise you, protect you, teach you, fight for you. I have a family. I have a mom and a dad. I have a brother and two sisters. I am not looking for a replacement family. I am not looking for anyone to take their place. No one on the face of the earth could ever do that. I am simply looking for the piece of the puzzle. To connect the dots. To know who the other person is that “created” me. I am not prepared to turn the lives of others upside down to do that. I have worked so hard throughout this whole process to try to protect everyone. I am not going to stop now. But I am determined to do everything within my power to find my answer. I deserve to know the truth. Maybe I will find it. Maybe I will not. But either way, I will know I have given my best. There are no what ifs left out there to haunt me and that I did this in a way that was respectful and courteous to those involved.

For anyone out there that questions my intentions or thinks I am going to hurt this family, I ask that if you know me as a person, to think about the kind of person that I am. The kind of person I try to be. Maybe there is comfort in that. Maybe there is not. All I can say is that my intentions are nothing but pure. An opportunity was provided to me to learn something about where I came from. I didn’t ask for it. It was handed to me. I took it and made the best of it. I searched to find the answers. Answers I have always wished for but never imagined I could find. I am not searching for a family. I am not searching for something better. I believe the grass is always greener until you get there and then realize it is the same shade or not as nice as the grass you left behind. So I have no secret wishes for anything. Just hope for an answer, a picture, a story or two and I can walk away being satisfied.

Suddenly my phone goes off. It is Anna. She has sent me a message to tell me, “I have info for you…….”

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Testing 1-2-3

15 Jun

The wheels started turning. How could I solve this mystery? I was laying in bed, ready to go to sleep and it hit me. The light bulb over my head lit up!!! I whipped out my phone and started to google immediately. There had to be a test for this! There is a test for everything 😉

There is was. In black and white in front of me. A sibling test. A DNA test to specifically determine if two people are siblings, half siblings, etc. This was it! My answer to it all. All we would have to do is convince daughter #1 to take the test and we would know for sure.

I turned off the lights and tried to get to sleep. An act that seemed much harder than normal as my brain was working in over drive. The next morning I began to research the test. I found multiple places that could perform it. I could feel the excitement build. Once you take the test it is just days before you get the results! I was so happy.

Of course the detective in me..the girl that needs to know all the details, ins and outs, all the fine print before ever doing something..came out to play. I poured over the FAQ’s, product information, etc. And then I found it. The proverbial road block. These tests can determine whether you are siblings (or half siblings) but not in the case where the potential fathers are brothers.

Boom, excitement crushed. My easy resolution to solve the puzzle had been blown to pieces. But why? Why wouldn’t it work?

After a few phone calls to a couple of DNA laboratories I better understood. When a child is conceived, they get 50% of their DNA from their mother and 50% from their father. What percentage you are getting from each parent is a free for all. For example: Tom got 50% of his father and 50% of his mother. In his father’s 50% he got a larger percentage from his father’s paternal side. Tom’s Brother Peter got 50% of his father and 50% of his mother. In his father’s 50% he got a larger percentage from his father’s maternal side. This breaks down to the fact that two FULL siblings do not have the exact same DNA.

Now consider half siblings. If you have different mothers and the same father, you already eliminate half of your DNA. The fun fact is, cousins and half siblings share the same percentage of DNA. That means, depending on the Russian roulette of genetics, you can have more DNA with a cousin than a half sibling. Imagine that. So if daughter #1, daughter #2 and I took a a DNA test, the results could come back that daughter 1 is my sister and daughter 2 is my cousin when in fact it is the reverse! The only way to truly know is a paternity test. Yikes! The dreaded paternity test! The one thing that I hoped would not be the be all end all!

 

The Moral Debate

14 Jun

It took a few days but we finally got word from Anna’s father. He said that he did not want to get “Father #2” involved at this point so he was going to reach out to the eldest daughter of Father #1 to see if she could help.

I wasn’t really sure about that one. I don’t know his reasons for not want wanting to involve Father #2. Maybe because he did not want to stir up any trouble if it was not yet warranted? Maybe because he is married (and was married at the time that my mother got pregnant)? I could come up with a countless list of possible reasons. However I was more surprised by the idea of reaching out to the eldest daughter of Father #1. Maybe he has a closer relationship to that part of the family. I have no idea. But my internal moral debate was that this poor woman’s father had passed away just under 5 years ago. Maybe he was my father too but wouldn’t it be better to just ask Father # 2 and if it is not him then just let Father #1 being my biological father be the secret of the three of us (Anna, her father and me)? I hate the idea of hurting his family. Imagine, they find out they have a new sibling or step daughter but can’t even go to their father/husband for answers. It seems to me that if it were him, the kindest thing would be to let them continue living their lives with the memory of the person they loved intact.

It might sound silly, but either way…whomever my father is…I want it to be his decision as to whether or not he wants me to know his family. My journey is to find him. To know who he is. To have a name. A face. Know who the other half of me is. If he wanted me to be involved with his family…to know him, my half siblings, etc I would be open to that. But that is his life and while we intersect, we each also have our own paths. If I am welcome in his world, I would embrace the chance with open arms. If he prefers for his own reasons to keep me a secret, as long as I have my answers I can respect and understand that.

With Father #1 having passed away, he is not here to make that call. By introducing his daughter, who we know is his daughter, into this, I worry. I worry about hurting her. The memory of her father. Especially if I am not even his! Then it would have all been for nothing.

As for Father #2, he is married. To the same woman he was married to when my mother got pregnant.  My dilemma in trying to reach out to him is how to do it discreetly. Out of respect to him and his wife, especially as I am not certain he is the one, I would like to have that conversation discreetly. But how do you do that with someone who lives states away and is retired, at home with his wife all day?

I want answers. I want to solve the puzzle. I want to be able to walk away from all of this with no regrets. I don’t want to come this close and settle for the fact that I narrowed it down to two people and didn’t try to find the answer. Father #2 is getting older. I don’t know how much time I have (he was considerably older than my mother). I don’t want to let the days slip away.

People tell me not to worry about everyone else. Not to worry about the wife and relationship of Father #2 or the family of Father #1. That this is my story and I deserve the answers. But I can’t help it. While I am determined to continue moving forward towards the truth, I still want to protect the second half of my DNA. I want to make sure that whomever he is, that his family is treated with respect. They deserve that. As much as I deserve the truth, they deserve respect and consideration.

I am waiting patiently for Anna’s father to get back to us. I am trying to give him the chance to do things his way. It is after all his family and he knows them. He knows what they can handle so if he feels that it is ok to approach Father #1’s daughter, then I am ok with that. After all, that is his decision, not mine! He took the same test as I did and got the same results as I did so if he too wants to know, then it is up to him. Maybe she knows something. Maybe she doesn’t. But it is a starting point. In the meantime I am working on my own backup plan so if they come back to me with nothing, I will be ready to move. No time wasted in between. But can you really ever be ready for something like this?

All morals aside, my mind started to consider the possibilities. Was there a way to figure this out if the daughter of Father #1 was willing to help?

Brave Little Toaster

2 Jun

I finally had the chance to talk to Anna. She and her father Tim had talked and were trying to make sure they had everything straight as to who all the possibilities could be. I had a few of the blank cheat sheets I had used to try to guesstimate relationships during my research so I pulled them out and drew out the different scenarios for her. I am a visual person. I need to see it in front of me to understand so I wanted to present it that way.

If her father and I were cousins, that meant I was the daughter of one of his two uncles. From the sounds of it, while they all lived in the area, they were not really close with that part of the family anymore.  We chatted back and forth for a few but Anna needed to head to bed. Her newborn had fallen asleep which was one of her rare opportunities to sleep. She said she would be up at some point during the night so feel free to write more and she would get back to me during one of the middle of the night feeds.

I spent a little bit thinking about it. What to say. How to say it. I didn’t want to rock the boat too much but I also didn’t want to let an opportunity pass me by. So I did it. I got brave and I penned her a message. I went for broke and laid it all on the line:

This whole thing has been so crazy. I forget which of the potential “fathers” it was when we started out, but one of them lived on my mom(technically my aunt)’s best friend’s street (and during some of the years which I visited) and I think it was very likely Jake (father #1) worked with her best friend’s husband!! Small world!!!

I was wondering if you and your dad had any thoughts on all of this? Any suggestions? Ultimately for me, I have come so far, I want to find the answer. With that said, I also want to be discreet!! I am not looking to make waves in anyone’s life. For example, if it were Jake, while it would be awesome to have some half siblings, their father is gone. I would not want to do anything to hurt the memory of their father and obviously his wife’s memory…even though she married him a few years after I was born. He would not be there to speak for himself so I am not sure if he would have wanted me to know his family. If it is John (father #2) I realize he is married and I believe it is the same woman he was married to back then. Obviously I would want to have any conversation with him discreetly, not involving his wife. If it were him, whether or not he would want me to be a part of him life and have his family know about me would be up to him. Nowhere in any of this do I want to hurt anyone. I just need these answers for myself and am not asking for anything people don’t want to give beyond that!!!

Either way, I think a conversation with John is the key to everything. From that I would be able to tell if he knew of my mother or not. If not, then I know it is not him. If he did then I would ask questions that would help me learn the things he knew about her and how he met her (which would be awesome just to hear) and of course if he is my father…but would have to try to do it in a way that did not imply that if it wasn’t him, it was his brother because I would not want him to figure that out and tell anyone.  I certainly would not expect your or your dad to have that conversation with anyone!! That is on me to do. I was just hoping maybe you could give me guidance on the best and most discreet way to be in touch. Also of course I would want to know if you preferred me to leave you all out of it…meaning….if he is my father and asks how I found him, if I were to say I took the DNA test I can say that I traced my matches and did their family trees which lead me back to him.  I don’t have to say a word about you helping me or your dad taking the test to help!!! If you would both prefer to be left out of that I would certainly respect that!!! I could even leave out the DNA part and just say I followed clues my mother left behind!!  I just know John is older now and I don’t want to lose time cause you never know how much time you have and I just really want to solve this mystery and maybe if I am really lucky, once I know the answer can walk away with a few stories about the person and a few pictures to have as a memory or momento.

Do I sound corny?  I just, for me, I think after all the years of never having a chance to know my mother and never having a chance to see where I get my eyes, chin, nose etc, and never knowing if my biological father even knew I existed….I just really need this closure.  So any advice you or your dad can give would be amazing….whether I should call him (and what pretense do I use if his wife answers), write a letter, etc. I dunno…..I just need to complete this chapter 🙂

You can imagine my relief when I woke up to Anna’s message the next day. She said that she was going to talk to her dad and see what he said. And queue the waiting game………

Boom!!!

1 Jun

I was getting ready for bed and something hit me. The best way to describe it was a “feeling.” Just that sense that I should check my Ancestry DNA account. I sort of felt it, but ignored it. Then I felt it again. Stronger. So I stopped what I was doing and logged in. I saw that I had one new match. I clicked to open my matches and my heart skipped a beat. There at the top of my list was Anna’s father. He was listed as my first cousin.  OMG! OMG! OMG! It was the match that I expected it would be which would mean that my research had paid off. I was guessing he would come back as my first cousin and she would be my 1st cousin once removed. I was so proud of myself for being able to predict that! All those hours were not wasted.

My mind started racing. I laughed at myself because even though I knew what that meant, I was so overwhelmed I had to run and look at my notes to make sure I was looking at the right names.

TWO. Two is the magic number. If all the tests are right and the research correct, by process of elimination we are down to two people who could be my father. Brothers. One alive. One deceased. Part of me hopes it is the one who is deceased. If it was him, he sounded like a good, decent upstanding citizen. A really good man. The other half of me hopes it is the one who is still alive. If it is him, maybe I will be able to have just one conversation with one of my biological parents. I just want to know the story. Where I came from. How I came to be. Was I a one night stand? The product of a relationship that could not be public? Did it come from good? From bad? Why did my mother want to keep my father a secret? Did he know about me? Not want me? I want answers.

All these questions start racing through my mind at once. I am joyful. I am sad. I am bouncing off the walls looking for someone to share the news with while at the same time, choking up…tears coming down my face. I am close. So close. Closer than I ever imagined I could be!

I send a message to Anna. I told her I saw the results and was so overwhelmed. She wrote back that her father had gotten them back earlier that day. She was headed to bed but we would chat the next day.

Please brain…calm down for a little bit. Just long enough for me to sleep!

Tick…Tock…Tick…Tock……..

31 May

I told Anna about the membership card. She and her parents were intrigued. They had been along for much of this journey and now they were personally invested too. After all, somehow or another it will tie in to someone in their family. We had so many questions about the test itself and how accurate the matches are as well as our personal connection.

Nothing prepared me for the following email from Anna:

SO here is the plan… My dad is going to do the same DNA test that my mom and you and I did. Depending on how he matches to you, we can narrow it down even further It will also give us more of an idea of the tests accuracy, etc. He said he would order it tonight (he was thinking it would be cool to do anyway). I will let you know as soon as the results come back, but of course you know it does take a chunk of time to get them back. Hopefully this will be an extremely useful piece of information! I will keep you informed!

Omg….Omg….Omggggggggg! It just so happened I had gotten a coupon that day for the Ancestry DNA test so I emailed it to her to pass along to her dad. Why not try to save her father a little money right?!?

He received the test in the mail a few days later and sent it back the week before Easter. The test takes six to eight weeks to process.  What I am saying is……I stalk the Ancestry DNA website EVERY DAY looking to see if I have new matches!! By my calculation, if they received the test the week of April 17th, then six to eight weeks should have the results coming back between now and June 12th so if I pad that a little to be safe, maybe say by June 23rd.

I am going crazy. Might you have guessed that? I have been staying so busy, trying not to think about it. FAIL! I have been overfilling my schedule, exhausting my brain hoping to forget. FAIL! I am so exhausted that my brain hurts and all I want to do is sleep and I still can’t shake it from my mind. I am freaking out waiting to see what the results say!

Once we know her father’s results I am hoping to have a more definitive and clear picture. Something more solid. Her father should be my closest match to date. I am hoping it will give me some answers and that with these answers I can take the next step. Whatever that next step might be. Admittedly I am not sure what that is yet.

I Think I Can…I Think I Can..

30 May

So it seems that somehow my mother was tied to Father #1 through this lodge. Not that it actually answers any questions though! In order to be an associate member of the lodge, you had to be sponsored by a member. So, was Father #1 her sponsor? If so, how had she met him prior to that? What was their original connection? Or, had someone else sponsored her and maybe she met him there?

Taking that one step further though, if all you needed to become an associate member of the lodge was to be sponsored by someone who was a member that means that Father #2 or #3 could have been associate members too. Could she have met one of them there? Or did she know father #1 and met Father #2 or #3 through him?

Really, the finding of this card does not answer any of my questions questions. In fact, if anything, it creates MORE questions. But is does do one thing. It proves that I am on the right track!!!

Through this DNA test I have found a relative that matches pretty closely. This match and her family as well as all the possible “fathers” lived in the town that mother was living and working in when she got pregnant with me. The associate membership card for the Lodge shows there was a definite connection. It not only put them in the same city but in the same organization. So while the massive amount of new questions is discouraging, it is also encouraging. I am that much closer to solving this mystery. I can do it. I will do it. I HAVE to do it…..for me!