Well, my genealogical DNA test have finally come in and my suspicions have been confirmed . . . I am not me! But that’s normal when you’re dealing with Adoption – DNA.
After 2007 I had pretty much given up on learning anything else about who I am or where I come from with all the leads having literally died. At the time I had looked at DNA testing but it was $500 for a basic test back then. Add on the fact that there were problems with my marriage, problems with the job, problems with the kid, problems just finding a reason to make it one more day. This problem was way down on the list. Eventually, the wife and I parted ways and I moved into my own place with my daughter. That was in 2009 it would be just over two and a half years before DNA and adoption would pop back up.
April 6, 2012
DNA that amazing building block that allowed us to recreate the dinosaurs, at least in popular books and movies. If we can recreate dinosaurs, you would think I would be able to learn more about who I am. Enter Living Social on April 6, 2012 and a special they had from a web company called ConnectMyDNA.com. For only $30 (at the time) you could get a “self-discovery” kit for your DNA. $30? I spend more than that going to the movies! Here’s my credit card thank you very much! the kit arrives in the mail and I send my DNA sample back and the waiting starts again.
If you haven’t gathered by some of the things on the website here then let me tell you I have a pretty active imagination. What I was expecting to get was a map down to the street level that told me where my DNA came from along with other things you see in the movies. What did I really get?
Yeah, ain’t that spiffy. My understanding is the company thought that this DNA ring thing here would be some social media blitz and people could compare their “rings” to each other. Honestly, I’m surprised the site is still around when things like FamilyTreeDNA.com and Ancestry.com offering DNA test for the same price. In my opinion this is a waste of money. But it was only $30 on sale and it did let me dip my toes in the water of my DNA.
November 13, 2013
Having been impressed with my last DNA test I had pretty much ignored this again. And then NBC started airing the show “Who Do You Think You Are?” sponsored by Ancestry.com! Sure the show was basically an hour long infomercial for the website but. . . it got me thinking about all the work I had put into the family trees back i n the day. All that information just sitting there. When I last worked on the trees I had given up because I hit walls I couldn’t get passed. But now Ancestry had these “hints”. I log in to ancestry and start working on Trees I haven’t touched in 6+ years. I feel like I might get back another generation, maybe. But the hints allowed me to go back several generations and break through walls that I haven’t been able to get around in years. In 30 minutes I had solved things that I thought I never would. I was completely impressed.
If they can do this for my tree. And they’ve been doing all this work on gathering DNA from around the world. How far would they take me? And for only $99? I know what I am buying myself for Christmas this year!
After my experience with connectmydna you would think that I would be apprehensive of this whole process. But no, I was excited like a fat kid whose parents open their own candy store. I sent my DNA in and waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. Now did ancestry take a long time? Knowing what I know now the answer is not really. But for a 43 year old who thinks this is going to open a magical door and expose his entire family tree. A last hope and prayer to find answers he felt he would always be denied. . .
It took a lifetime. . .
But one day I was notified that my DNA was ready to be reviewed. I logged on and had several pages of matches! But there is the problem. Who are these people? Are they on my Mom’s side? Or my father’s side?
So I started the task of contacting these people to see if we could determine what side they lined up on. Only to run headlong into the next problem. Ancestry wants to tie the DNA into a family tree. Good idea! And it wants to try and match your DNA with other’s from the family tree side. GREAT IDEA! And from there it’ll give you hints based on the two trees. PERFECT IDEA! Except it doesn’t work that way.
When I first started my tree I had put my Birth Family in the same tree as my adopted family. So when people wanted to compare trees they didn’t know which side they were seeing. But Ancestry has made it fairly simple to extract part of tree and import it into a new tree. So now I have just a birth family tree online. Perfect! Those hints should start popping up any day! By the way I am writing this on January 30th 2016. I have yet to see one DNA “hint” on Ancestry. I have contacted their tech support and teh answer I got back from them was a bit disheartening. I was told at the time that the trees need to see somewhere between 11 – 15 matching individuals before it’s going to generate a “hint”. Well here’s the next problem. What if I spell my name Bryan and someone spells it Brian. Guess what. . . no match. It’s understandable the machines aren’t sentient . . . yet. But over 1,400 people currently in my tree and not a single DNA hint.
The good news is I did find some help. One of the people I contacted was Jane. Our DNA ties together and we think we know where at this point. But more that that she was a great sounding board and offered wonderful advice. The best advice she game me was to use FamilyTreeDNA.com and GEDMATCH.com.
The one problem with the DNA sites is they’re not interconnected. So if your DNA would match someone on FamilyTreeDNA.com but you’re on Ancestry.com you’ll never find the match. Enter GEDMatch.com! Run to your favorite DNA site and download the raw data from your test. Then you upload it to GEDMatch.com to compare with other people who have done the same thing!
February 14, 2014
After several emails back and forth with Jane she convinced me to try FamilyTreeDNA as well. One of the things I love about this site is you can “transfer” your DNA from ancestry to their database for a nominal fee. Also at the time they were the source for Y-DNA. What is Y DNA you ask? Good question. . . because I had forgotten all of this from my high school biology class anyway. There are also 100s of websites devoted to this information so go read! But what it boils down to is a kid gets half their DNA from the mother or Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and half from the dad. Now if you’re male you’re in luck. The Y chromosome is a direct copy between male father and sons. So the Y DNA the guy has is the same Y DNA his Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great grandfather had on all their father’s sides. So if you are wanting to do DNA testing and there is a Male sibling have them do the Y DNA test for you. Now I hear what you’re asking, What does the basic DNA tests do then? MtDNA or Y? The answer is neither. The $99 tests do what is called an Autosomal DNA. Humans have 22 chromosomes (autosomal) and 2 sex chromosomes one from the mother and one from the father. The Autosomal is going to compare those 22 chromosomes to other chromosomes and look for a match. The problem is again where did that match come from? The mother or the father? That’s part of where the more in-depth testing can come into play if the two who are comparing DNA have had those additional tests done.
At the time I had this done FamilyTreeDNA offered a couple of different Y DNA tests. It basically boiled down to how in depth did you want them to map out your chromosome. There was an 11, 37, 67, 111 marker match. It appears they’re now starting with the 37. The way it was described to me is an 11 point match takes you to a building. a 37 opens the doors. A 67 gets you passed the bouncer and the 111 introduces you to people. I opted for the 67. The other thing that I like about FamilyTreeDNA is they keep your DNA. So you can order another test without having to send in additional samples.
So what did I get for my $250+ 67 point match? A lot of nothing. The closest match I’ve found so far is a 25 point match. Nothing in the 37 point or 67 point range. But new people are adding their DNA all the time.
With the new DNA test sent in and with Jane’s encouragement I began working on my tree again. I realized I had never thanked Ron Meaks. Who’s Ron? Go read the adoption information. We’ll wait. . . Done? Ok. So I call Ron and remind him who I am and we chat for a bit. I then discover that some of his side of the family live in Tulsa. To cool. I send an email to them and we write back and forth a bit. Turns out they thought I might be a brother because their mom put at least one kid up for adoption as well.
Literally a few days later I get a message on ancestry.com from someone who is somewhere between a second and fourth cousin. His name is Kyle and we chat back and forth. Compare DNA against him and Jane because I am hoping he’s on my Dad’s side. But he’s on my mom’s side. And as close as we were from DNA there was only one place that I knew of where he could fit. Kind of weird how the time works out. But this did give me hope that DNA data might eventually stumble over me.
It finally happened! I got a hit on ancestry.com to my DNA which is a 1st cousin or closer. And her DNA doesn’t match against Kyle or Jane so it’s on my father’s side! So what does that mean? She is either my half-sister or one of her parents was my father’s sibling. The bad news is she’s adopted as well and has virtually no information about her parents. But perhaps we can get her original birth certificate and go from there. I had forgotten how strange it is to look at someone else’s photo and to see some of your own features.
But now that we have 2 DNA matches on my Father’s side maybe we can triangulate other people. Maybe I’ll finally get to see the sailboat.
Still no sailboat. But as more DNA matches have popped up I think I have the father’s DNA line finally. But the line is basically like a John Smith. Try and track that sucker down. And it’s in Mexico. Time to finally learn Spanish I guess. And 23 and Me had a sale for Christmas. My new DNA kit is on the way with a new sample required. Once they have it I’ll be on all 3 major DNA websites. Maybe I’ll find a match there.
May 16, 2020
23andMe eventually got my DNA processed. The medical reports were cool. And there was a ton of matches. But most 3rd cousins or further out. But on May 16, 2020 I got a message on 23andMe of a first cousin who wasn’t adopted out and actually knew their family. Before I know it I’m talking to my cousin, Athena and she’s got her twin sister Belinda and their mom on the phone. They feel that I am going to be related to Paul because he was in Fort Smith and lived in Tulsa for a while. They put me in touch with another Half-sister named Dawn. Dawn called her father and asked if he knew my birth mom. He confirmed they dated at one point in time. . . Holy Crap! I didn’t find them, they found me!
It’s been a week now and everyone has made me feel like part of the family. My father and I have chatted back and forth a bit on facebook. But we haven’t talked on the phone yet. Dawn and I have talked several times. Funny thing is I’m sure our paths have crossed several times over the years. She used to go to the various Star Trek cons where I used to help with security. While I always could see traits in my face with my birth mom. I could pass for a twin with my father. And oh my god is it a giant family. I have 5 or 6 half siblings and more cousins than you could shake a stick at.
The funny thing about all of it is the timing I guess. If Kathryn had told me about Paul when I first found her I don’t think it would have gone as well as it has the last few days. I didn’t have the patience back then. And I’m not sure how it would have gone with my Mom and Dad. But after the last major let down I just tried to let it go. I told God if I was meant to have my answers then he would bring them to me.
Does it feel like the primal wound is gone? Not yet. I honestly doubt it ever will. But it doesn’t feel as big or as painful as it had in the past.
So my advice is if you’re adopted and you want to know where you came from then sign up for as many of the DNA sites as you can because you never know which site someone else will use.
I hope you get to see the sailboat too.