My activity on a few websites has really amped up in the last few months, and I have been lucky enough to make some matches on my distant relatives generations back. I am still searching for my maternal grandfather.
The hardest part of all of the DNA information out there is when you are a half anything. (Half sister, half cousin, half aunt, etcetera.)
A half sibling is what we all know...where a sibling group of 2 or more only shares one parent. Half cousins, half aunts, half grandparents are the same, we are just not used to seeing those terms. I only have full aunts and uncles on my paternal side. That is so strange to me, I never even understood all of the half relations out there until I was involved in getting DNA testing done in order to find my biological father.
As I have written about before, I am a 3rd generation bastard. My great grandmother was not married to my great grandfather, nor did he stay around to raise my grandmother.
My grandmother had a fling (?) with someone that was not the man I was raised to know as my grandfather. I did not know this until nearly 3 years ago, when I got the results from the DNA lab. I am still sort of shocked about this, but not nearly as much as I used to be.
Finally, I sort of knew, but not in detail, that the man who raised me was not my biological father.
Through DNA, I found my full paternal aunt, which led me to my biological father. I won't go into details, but suffice to say I have aunties and cousins that I did not have before. I don't know my father, but I know who he is. That is sufficient for now. If we never meet, I still have to thank him for half of who I am through DNA.
Now, the search is on for my maternal grandfather. I have no hopes of him being alive at this point, but I would love to know who he is, and possibly see a photo.
I have tested with Ancestry, 23andMe, FTDNA and GenesForGood. I have uploaded to as many places as I can find that do genetic genealogy.
A tip that I would like to share is to write down everything. Yes, you can bookmark, but what happens if the site that you are using goes down? What if the record gets corrupted or pulled? What if any sort of inconvenience or disaster happens? By having it in writing in a dedicated place for your search, you will heighten the chances of not losing valuable research. I write down everything. The complete web address if it is an online search, the complete source if I am at a library or research center. A tip I found once was in a church recipe book. Had I not written it down, I never would have been able to trace back to it and found it to follow up. The drawing/sketch above was made by me to denote a landmark to get to the library I was going to in England. Anything that will help you get your research done is a tool, and I love to doodle. Those doodles have been valuable for me later on, when I was entering information into the computer.
I also make a photocopy or a print of obituary listings. Be aware, though. Obits are valuable, but they are not perfect. Don't treat them as such.
What are some search tips that you have used to help break through the brick walls in your search?
Happy 1st Day of Spring!
Today marks the first day of Spring. With the beginning of Springtime, I thought that it would be a good time to do some "Spring Cleaning" on my family tree.
Ancestry is a great site. I love it and I use it a lot. For learning about your DNA origins, their site is amazing. For making connections to your family, still amazing. A feature that I don't like is how easy it is to add to your family tree the connections of other families.
That may seem amazing, but in reality, some people make connections to others with no documentation.
This spring, I will be doing a lot of pruning of my DNA trees to make sure that all of the people that I add have proper documentation.
What is something that you are doing on the first day of Spring?
I am all about the search. I am all for finding the people with whom you share a blood connection.
I believe that DNA becoming more and more affordable is making DNA testing happen. I have been reading heartwarming stories of people even in their 90's discovering family that they never knew they had, or family that has been lost.
The thing that people do not talk about as much is when family does not want to be contacted.
I have been fortunate with some of the people that I have searched for. I have "new" aunts that I never knew I had. I cherish each and every one of them. I have cousins, I have grand cousins. It is amazing that these warm, loving and caring people are part of my family.
I have also come in contact with people who have not been wonderful. I interacted with a distant cousin who accused me of lying because they did not want to be a part of my family. This person said that I manipulated my DNA to match theirs. Emotionally, I was able to tell that they had a lot of issues, and I did not push. I gave them the space that they needed. It hurt my feelings at the time, because I so badly wanted to have my missing family members. This person (I am being very careful to not identify them) blocked me from Facebook. They blocked me from their phone. How do I know this? They made it a point to share that with me.
Was I overzealous in my actions with them? Actually, I am very proud that I was very polite. I did not intrude in their life. I did not ask a lot of questions. I merely pointed out the match that was on several of the DNA platforms that we both tested on.
If you are reaching out to family members that you do not know prior to your test, the best approach is non emotional. Simply state the facts and go forward from there. Just because you want a relationship with all of your newfound family does not mean that they are even prepared for such revelations. Take it slow. Be prepared to explain how you are related.
If it is a very close match, such as a parent, ask if they are able to talk.
Best of luck!
Since I have been on my search for my paternal biological family, I have been fortunate enough to come across some really lovely people. I have met some of the most helpful people that you could ever want to meet.
I have also met some people who really did not think that I should be following through on finding my biological family.
I would like to comment on that with some cold, hard facts, and probably some raw emotion as well.
I am not a secret. I have never lived as though I were a secret. I am a person. I have thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bleed when I am cut, the same as everyone else.
I am not a secret. What two adults did to get me here was something that I was a result of, not because I was an active consenting person.
I am not a secret. When I am asked for my complete medical history, I can only make a guess at part of my history. Because I don't know.
I am not a secret. When I look at my family, I know that I have traits that belong to my biological parent that I don't know.
I am not a secret. I never agreed to be in hiding so that someone would not have to confront their actions from the past.
I am not a secret. I am not in hiding, nor should I have to be.
I am not demanding a relationship with my biological family, if that is not what they want. But what I am wanting is for them to know that I exist. For them to know that there is someone else in the world who is carrying their genetic line. For them to know that life is messy, that is how we are made. I don't hold any anger or grudges, but I am not a secret.
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com