Tag Archives: #test

The Verdict Is In

14 Jul

After the email from my Aunt (we will call her Aunt Patty), things started to unfold so fast. Within the next few days, she told her daughter and other son about me. Her daughter sent me an email and added me on Facebook while her son added me on Facebook and we chatted there. Anna had asked for a picture of my biological mother so she could show it to her grandmother and see if maybe she might have known my mother.

Everyone was so nice! They seemed genuinely excited to have a new addition to the family and were curious about who this new person was.  It was fun learning about everyone and seeing some of the things we have in common. Little did I know that Aunt Patty was hard at work behind the scenes.

Aunt Patty kept in touch. She said she was sorry she could not tell me who my father was but told me stories about both of them. I heard about some of their traditions, families, etc. She also sent me pictures of her brothers and herself. I sent her some pictures of me. I asked her if I reminded her of anyone. Nothing prepared me for her response!!!

She wrote me and said she wished she could tell me 100% who my father was but she can tell me in her heart who she believes it is. She said that she had a long talk with her brother. She told him all about me and showed him the picture of my biological mother. He said he did not recognize her and that he was not my father. Seeing his face and hearing him out, she believed him. She truly believed that her other brother (father #1) was my biological father. She even went as far as to say that I remind her a bit of him. He was such a good man. They did coffee together every Friday until he was too sick to do it anymore. He raised his daughters on his own and was very good to his mother. He called her every day and visited her often when she was in the nursing home.  He was also Patty’s daughter’s god father. Every year at Easter he sent her a corsage from her “secret admirer.” What an absolute sweetheart!! She said that if he knew I existed he would have been sure to be a part of my life and that he would have loved me.

So there is was. I would never know 100% but it seemed pretty darn sure. She of all people would know her brother and be able to tell if he was being honest with her. Plus, so many of the clues that I found along the way seemed to point to him. In all honesty, even though he was gone which means that just like my biological mother I will never be able to meet him and their story will always be a mystery, just hearing about the man he was, I would be thrilled if he was my biological father. Everyone tells me stories about the person my biological mother was. It would make so much sense if it was him. And wouldn’t it be nice that even if I can never meet my biological father in the end, that the memory of him that I am introduced to is such a good and positive one!

I was finally finding my peace. Little by little. It wasn’t quite closure, but it was peace. I still hoped for the rest. I still hoped in time maybe Patty’s brother would give me that closure. But this….this was all something I can live with. This was really darn close.  Father #1 was the first person on the list of potentials at the beginning of my search that I felt the instant connection to. It would make sense if it was him. I would be happy if it was him.

Extra, Extra….Read All About It

12 Jul

News!! She has news!! I am in the dressing room at the store, trying on clothes for my upcoming vacation. I stop instantly and start reading.

Anna’s father had reached out to father #1’s eldest daughter. She had not responded so he made the decision to go directly to father #2. He approached him and explained the situation to him. Father #2 said he did not recognize my mother’s name and to ask me to please not contact him because he did not want his wife to get mad.

Heartbreak. Confusion. Questions. Reality. My mind was racing in a million different directions! Please don’t contact him because his wife will be mad??? That was a statement I was not expecting. Not because I didn’t understand that this could obviously be an issue that could potentially cause tension (hence the way I was trying to approach everything in a way to protect everyone and their privacy and relationships) but because it had a guilty tone. It just opened the door to more questions, but at the same moment slammed the door in my face because he did not want to talk to me.

The emotions hit like a train off the rails. Silent tears in the dressing room as I processed it all. There was nothing more I could do. All the was left was to accept the fact that yes, I was disappointed I could not get a definitive answer, but be grateful for the fact that I came from a place where there was no hope of ever knowing who my father was and somehow, I had it narrowed down to two people. That had to be enough and I knew after a few days of raw emotion, I would be able to accept that. That is me. I am able to see the bigger picture. Sometimes I just need a few minutes to process my personal feelings.

Of course I had every intention of honoring his request. I told Anna to please have her father assure him that I understand and will not bother him. I went home that night and cried. My search was over. The conclusion, there was no conclusion. There was no definitive answer. All that work. No closure.

I won’t even begin to try to list all the thoughts running through my mind, but I will say that it is crazy how many scenarios you can come up with for just one statement made by another person.

The next morning I was still a little sad but there was no room for a pity party for one. I got up and went off to work. Work was a welcome distraction.

That afternoon I got another message from Anna. She wrote to tell me that her parents had told her grandmother (my aunt) about me. They had not said anything before because they were waiting to get as much information as possible, but now that we knew Anna’s father and I were 1st cousins, they were ready to tell her. At first she was in shock and could not believe the news but then……then she seemed kind of excited to have a niece!! She was going to have Anna over the next week to help her scan pictures for me. What’s more….she would love to talk to me!

Oh my goodness how the emotions changed. From sad to happy in seconds.

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!

 

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………

Curiosity Killed the Cat!

10 May

Yeah right! Anyone who knows me knows that I am far too curious a cat to let my story end there!!! 23 & Me taught me some really cool things about myself. I am still fascinated to this day as I pour over the results. It even matched me up with DNA relatives who have also taken the test. The closest relative I found fell into the 2nd – 5th cousin range and was predicted to be my 3rd cousin. Not really much there to go on and of course discouraging. I reached out to several of my matched and many people did not respond to me.

I did have one response. It was from someone on my mother’s side. I know this because we shared a surname. He and I chatted and were able to trace our connection back which was really neat. I love the concept of taking two people with information and tracing back into time to find out where they intersect. It is fascinating and while definitely a challenge it is so exciting at the end when you fit the last piece of the puzzle.

Seeing that 23 & Me was able to match me with relatives got the wheels turning. I realized rather quickly that even if I got matched with people on my biological father’s side, it would be nearly impossible to identify that match. All I had were guesses regarding the heritage and no surnames or anything to compare. BUT…..I had done so much work on my biological mother’s side. Why not try to find some of those relatives. That should be relatively easy in the scheme of things. Well, maybe easier if I could link up my family tree with my DNA test.

Shortly after doing the 23 & Me test, I started seeing commercials for Ancestry DNA. I didn’t think it would have much to offer on the genetics as it seemed like it was focused more on just the ancestry portion. I wasn’t sure if i really wanted to spend another $100 on this.

I thought about the pros and cons and it all came down to….I probably won’t learn anything new genetically but because ancestry.com is where most people do their family trees (including me) maybe it will help me find a more broad range of relatives that I will actually be able to trace using our family trees. After all, I had found relatives before. I even met one in person that I had been talking to for years when I went down to Florida on vacation. Why not give it a shot. It won’t hurt.

So in December 2016, I bought myself a Christmas present and started the process all over again. I spit in the cup, sent it off and waited.

Have You Seen My Ancestors?

9 May

In 8th grade we learned about Punnett Squares and alleles. I was fascinated by this. In fact I would say it was one of the few things I was so excited to learn about and picked it up really fast. It might have been because I loved eyes. I was fascinated by all the different colors. The way some seemed to twinkle. I even had my notebook where I was constantly drawing eyes. Trying to perfect the intricacies. Drawing the teardrops falling from them. The reflections in them.

I wasn’t sure what color eyes my mom had. The pictures I had seen were mostly black and white. The few that were in color were all too far away for me to decipher. I have brown eyes. My brother has blue. How did he get the blue eyes. How did I get the brown eyes?

When 23 & Me came out with the DNA tests, I was very curious. I wanted to see if I could find out about different parts of my DNA. What a great opportunity to be able to see if I have any markers that would identify any predisposed conditions or even see what alleles I have. Not knowing about your other half, there are always concerns.

The package arrived in the mail and I had a date with a little plastic cup. For anyone who has not seen one of these tests, they send you a kit with a plastic vial. The vial has a topper that when you close it, releases a liquid into the container. You fast for a period of time, no food or water. They even say no gum or anything like that as it can throw your results off. I found the easiest thing to do was just do it when I first woke up. You fill the bottle to the line with spit. Not nearly as gross as it sounds. You affix the cap which releases the solution. You pack your vial up in the box they provide. Before you ship the box back, you register your kit number on the website. That is how they know it belongs to you. Then, you pop the box in the mail and ………..wait!

It took about six to eight weeks, just like they said. Any time the status changes (received, processing, analyzing, etc) they send you an email update. This is both cool and torture! It is nice because you know you are getting closer but torture because it can sit in a different status for what seems like YEARS!

When they are all done processing, analyzing and checking your results they send you an email to let you know it is complete. You then log into your special page and voila! You and looking at your genetic makeup.

My results were a mixture of fascination and disappointment. I was disappointed because it did not tell me about my alleles and the info on carrier genes seemed kind of vague. Though of course now they have a Health and Ancestry test available. I sort of wish I had waited and done that one!

I was however fascinated with some of the other aspects. For example it gives you some interesting “random” facts like “your relatives are”…

68% more likely to have a gap between their 2 front teeth (I have one! Imagine that.)

44% less likely to drink caffeinated soda (I don’t drink soda.)

36% less likely to have sweaty palms (not usually a big problem for me)

15% more likely to have hair that becomes frizzy in humid weather (ding ding!!)

And so many more!

It even provided a fun little map of the USA that showed where DNA relatives (who have taken the test) live in relation to me. Seems as though the largest number live in California. Kind of crazy as I only know of one person who lives out there that I found during my family tree research so many years ago. Massachusetts also made the list of top 10 states. What?!? I don’t know any relatives here though when I did my family tree I had found a bunch of connections to western Massachusetts. It also provides a world map. I have relatives in Australia (no wonder I have always had a thing for koala bears) and Great Britain (maybe I am related to Prince William….I always knew I was royalty).

There are so many other things that the test shows, but here is the one that got me the most….ancestry. Growing up I knew I was Scotch-Irish. There was a little French Canadian mixed in. When I did my family tree research I traced a small part of the family back to Germany but that was about all I knew as to my roots. This test painted me a whole other picture and how fascinating it was!!

According to this test, I can be traced all the way back to Neanderthal times to Neander Valley, Germany.  I am 100% European, 57.5% being from the British Isles and Ireland. I am also Scandinavian, French, German and Finnish and a few other areas.  But the biggest shock came when I found out that I was 15.4% Ashkenazi Jewish. What in the world? I had never heard mention of this before. When I clicked on the box that gives you extra facts and info, it said:

“You most likely had a grandparent, great-grandparent, or second great-grandparent who was 100% Ashkenazi Jewish. This person was likely born between 1860 and 1920.”

That is crazy that a test like this can tell me that! I am so curious about where this Jewish heritage comes in to play. I wish I had my great grandparents and my grandfather here. They would be able to open so many more doors with their knowledge.  I wish when I was younger I knew more about and understood these things. I would have asked so many questions. It isn’t like I can ask my “father” questions about his family. I don’t even know who he is.

Either way though, it is super cool to know this new information about myself!! I love learning new things and what better way to conclude all the years of research I did into my family tree than with such a cool test that tells me so much more about who I am and where I can from!