I was beginning to doubt whether or not I would ever be able to write this article!
As all of you know, I have no idea of who my biological father is. This caused me a lot of angst when I was a teenager. I so badly wanted that "Dad" moment that you see on television. The one where the daughter knows that she and her father have a special bond.
Growing up, I assumed that my mother's husband was my father. I had no reason to believe otherwise. I called him "Daddy" and he loved me very much and still does, I am sure. Bring in an ugly divorce and all of the sudden, I knew that "Daddy" was no biological relation to me. I was gutted to the core.
Less than 8 years later, I would be adopted by my Aunt and Uncle. I would now call them "Mom and Dad". I loved them very much then, and I still do now. I honor and respect them very much, too.
As I grow older, it is weird when I am asked for medical information. I have to leave part of my information blank. I simply don't know the answers because I don't know who my father is.
I find it interesting that through the years, I have been discouraged from searching by people. I have been told "What if you are intruding upon his life?" or "What if he has a wife or children?" and similar.
My answer has changed over the years, from quietly backing down my search back then to explaining that I never agreed to be someone's shameful secret. Why should I be a secret, anyway?
After I got my test done from Family Tree DNA, I wanted to know who my father was, RIGHT THEN!
Of course, life doesn't work that way.
I diligently uploaded my DNA to all of the relevant sites. GEDmatch is the massive one that everyone will tell you about. I uploaded to there, and I encouraged all of my family that had been tested to do the same. I joined groups on Facebook and elsewhere that are for people trying to connect with their bio family.
I am referred to as an NPE, which stands for Non-Parental Event or Not Parent Expected. I prefer the easier term of "bastard" because my parents were not married at the time of my conception, or anytime before or after. I truly understand that term, but we live in a gentler time, so NPE it is.
Being a part of these boards is being a part of a community. Adoptees searching for birth parents and birth family, birth family looking for adoptee, people like myself looking for their bio father and similar.
Occasionally, people will post with their reunion story, and they will sometimes post photos of them and one or both parents. It is very heartening to see, and it breeds hope in the soul.
At first, I would scroll through. I did not participate, I only read. I was too scared about all of the what if that was out there. I tried to tell myself that I was too busy or that I was wasting my time, and a bunch of other reasons that were not really valid.
When it boiled down to it, I was scared. I was scared of the possibility of rejection. Of the chance that my birth father did not want to have anything to do with me. Plus many more thoughts that became huge fears that only increased in size during the time that they were allowed to dwell unabated in my head.
I read a post that changed all of that. A woman posted looking for her father. She was in anguish because she wanted to know this man before her grandchild was born. The responses were heartfelt and genuine. People encouraged her to proceed with her search. They told her to be brave. Heart emoji's flew everywhere. She asked the question that had been lying in my heart. "What if he doesn't want anything to do with me?"
The answers back were a balm for me. "Then you know." A woman said. "Give him time. Wait for him to make the decision. Right now, he doesn't even know that there is a decision to make."
Those were the words that firmed my resolve. My biological father, if he was alive, did not know. How could he decide yes or no about knowing me if he did not even know I existed?
I crafted the post over several days. It was really hard for me to try and explain what I now call "My conception story" because I really did not have a lot of details. The ones that I had were not really specific. But they were details. If a person who was born into a traditional family was able to hand out their conception story on an engraved card, I felt like mine was on a dirty bar napkin. But it was all I had.
I added a few photos of me, and a few photos of my mother. Within a few hours, I had people asking to help me. Asking where my DNA results were posted to. Making connections and letting me know what those connections meant. I was really happy, and excited.
This month, I got my very own "search angel". A search angel is a person that helps you with your search and points you in the right direction, asks your contacts questions, and does what is needed to narrow your search down.
My search angel has been amazing. She has asked me questions and helped me on my search. By using my DNA information and my contacts through my DNA test, she has been able to create a family tree with me in it. She sent me an image and said "I think that this man is your father." I stared at that photo. I could see me in him, but for some reason, I didn't want to see the link when she told me that this man was deceased. It was like being gut punched. Shortly afterwards, a photo was sent to me that, if it turns out that he is my father, she is my half sibling.
We will know soon enough, but I am possibly on the path to knowing the other half of me.
Some of you have been following my nervousness and excitement about participating in the University of Michigan's DNA project, Genes for Good. You can look them up on Facebook. After you join Genes for Good, it is pretty straightforward to "earn" your test.
Take a week or so, answer some questions and then one day, you will have answered enough questions to be sent a "spit kit" in the mail.
From the time that I started on their website until the time that I got the spit kit was between one and three weeks. From the time that I sent it until I got an email saying it had been received was perhaps another week or two. After that, it was about 3-4 months until I got the results. Every single time that I get new DNA results, I now know that I get really giddy and it prompts me to do a lot more online research about the information that I have received. I have now completed two tests. One from Family Tree DNA and now, this one from Genes For Good. My results have a lot of similarities, of course, but they also offer a look at my current information differently.
I do not have family members to compare to on Genes for Good, and to my knowledge, there is no database at this time to link other participants to one another if they are related. I have written to Genes for Good for an answer and I will update this post as soon as I hear if there are plans for that in the future.
I love to do stuff for science when I can. Especially when it benefits me as well. (Selfish? Perhaps.)
Anyway, since becoming a DNA hound, I got an email from a friend of mine that is doing the Genes for Good project. This is through the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
To participate, you must go through Facebook. Participation is pretty easy. You fill out some quick and easy questionnaires about your health. Go back every day for the daily ones. After a week or less of doing this, you can qualify for a spit kit, so that they can have a look at your DNA. You test for free. They let you have your raw data via download, so you can do what you want with it. They will share information with you such as your personal ethnic/geographic range of descendants with you as a thank you for helping. If I did not term that well, hopefully, you know what I mean. They will give you an idea of where you came from.
I hope that if you are on Facebook, you will consider helping out with this project. I think it is awesome, and I am doing it.
The first I heard about it, I went to the link above, read all of the information and from there, followed the link to Facebook. You must give Facebook the permission to run the app. I said yes to everything and begin to answer the questions, it was fun, truthfully. After that, I did the dailies for a few days, and the I qualified for the spit kit, where they send the kit for your precious DNA. According to the site, it could be between 2-4 weeks to get here in the mail, but I will keep everyone updated. If I am not too excited, I will try and remember to make a video or at least take photos of the kit when it gets here.
If you do this, please let me know in the comments below!