Somewhere in my DNA

I don’t know what I will do with the information I have. Knowing isn’t the end it’s the beginning. I can begin separating the matches into to known groups.  My paternal and maternal sides without guessing. I have a good 2nd cousin match on the maternal side. She has a great tree and they are from the area of Michigan that I am from.

I know from my non-identifying information that I requested some basics about my first mother.  Bless my obsession with Scooby Doo, I have gathered my clues gang!  I am not falling into this blind though. I have excellent guidance. There are many support groups and organizations out there to help individuals in their search.

The one group that I have found solid advice is the DNA ADOPTION group.  They have a forum based closed group on yahoo groups that offers solid experience based advice. The group is closed so you can ask questions in a format that isn’t out there for public view.  Most likely someone there has been there, done that. There are literally thousands of success stories that have ties to this group.  They offer classes for all levels, I am currently taking a Y-DNA class to find my husband’s  paternal origin but that is another DNA story.

So, here I am with non-identifying information, which varies wildly among adoptees.  Mine is pretty good.  A friend of mine had his, it was basically, your birth mother was a woman and she placed you for adoption.  Well, that was enlightening!  Mine was carefully recorded I could see that someone cared, a social worker noted her neat appearance, her curly hair, her tall elegant posture.  I had a picture in my mind of her, I knew her family knew about me. Whether that social worker knew it or not, they wrote me a love letter.

I have never seen or touch my first mother, but I’ve held her in my mind through that social workers words. I knew about her loves, her hair, her family’s high forehead-thanks for that by the way. She was always just beyond reach, somewhere in my DNA.

Do You Have My Eyes?

Throughout my life I wondered who I looked like, in families this is easy, you look like Mom, Dad, or Grandma. It’s not eaIMG_4790sy when you’ve never met anyone you are biologically related to. When I went shopping I wondered, did I have any brothers or sisters out there? Had I ever walked by them, saw them at a basketball game, or on T.V.?  What if I was related to my husband? We have been married 25 years! What if we are a bad hillbilly joke? This is going to require some dysfunctional greeting cards.

Evidentially I may look like several people whom I don’t know because I have had occasions of mistaken identity occur.  Not like when someone gets close and they realize you’re not the person they thought you were type either, I have had full-blown, people insisting they knew me when I have never seen them before in my life. The last time someone insisted they knew me was in Nashville, Tennessee in of all places a Library at a book sale, because I am addicted to books and can’t help buying them, even on vacation.  I was over 400 miles from home when a women and her daughter rather adamantly insisted they knew me.   I said I had no clue who they were,  they felt I was blowing them off so they accused me of being a snot.  It shocked me. I was in a library, isn’t there decorum in a library?  I reached in my purse and pulled out my driver’s license to prove my identity, I was frankly shocked.

My identity proven, they apologized.   They thought I was pretending not to know them.  While this was the most disturbing of the incidents, it was not the first that occurred and I don’t think it will be the last.  After the fact, I wondered who the other woman was? Could I actually be related to her? Was she a sister or a cousin I don’t know?

What I know in my ‘non-identifying information’ is scant.  I assume I don’t have relatives in Tennessee, I could be wrong.  People are quite mobile and move great distances for work and family relocation. I also know that faces are basically all the same layout and there are people who look-alike but aren’t related.  If I knew my family I could easily shrug this off and maybe not think another thing of it. No big deal.  Not knowing is the crux, secrecy is the festering point.

I’m blaming all those Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie books.  You, Miss Marple, you made my brain ask the big why? Hercule Poirot, you made me see the details. To ask if there could be something else behind the what if and the why.  To ask questions and demand answers that others are born into.  I want to fill in blanks with answers on my medical forms and on my family tree.  It’s not too much to ask, to come into the light from the shadow of the past.

Jumping In

My Non-Identifying information or non-id told me very little about who I was searching for, but it did have some clues.  One very good one was that father’s family was large.  My DNA matches through Ancestry could be used to match my non-id, however, I needed a way to organize the information that made sense and followed an established system.  Thankfully, I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Ancestrys’ family tree building program is good, but I had problems with it glitching with duplications that I had to go back and delete. I spent hours deleting and correcting, especially with the huge families that I found with the first top matches I had.  Family Tree Magazine offers free forms that I used to organize the massive information.  I needed to view the multiple branches all at once but on Ancestry I could only view a small section at a time.

A large dry erase board is another option for organization. I didn’t have room in my home for one, but I could see the advantage to keeping the information organized through a large dry ease board, or simply just use it to work a section at a time before transferring them to a sheet or computer program. There is one caveat, however, when copying work be careful.  It is very easy to transpose names, dates, or other information. Inadvertently you may create an error in your tree, double-check the information as you transfer.

As I worked in my potential birth father’s family the tree grew and it became clear that my first cousin match wasn’t my first cousin. I worked up the family tree to her Grandparents.  It was most likely that we shared these same relatives because I noticed that I also had matches to both sides of these two peoples families.  They had twelve children and I had to work out the families for each to see if any of them remotely matched my non-identifiying information or if my non-identifying information might be a fiction and I should just focus on the DNA.

Getting a subscription to Newspapers.com was a necessity for me as most of these people were from Illinois.  Thankfully, the newspapers that covered the areas that these people lived in were included in the subsciption service.  Tracking down twelve individuals, their marriages, children, deaths, and obits would be hours of computers work.  Would it be worth it?  What did I want from it? That remained to be seen, I mainly wanted to know where I came from and have simple answers, the answers were out there, I just had to work to find them.