Category Archives: DNA

My DNA Journey – Ancestry DNA

Ancestry DNA is by far the most popular test you can do. While the tests themselves are all the same, it’s what you can do with that information on their web site that separates them. I didn’t find Ancestry to be any better than MyHeritage in that respect, what I did find is that because it is more well known, the database for matches is bigger.

I like Ancestry’s ethnicity breakdown more than MyHeritage. It felt more precise and gave information about the different areas.

I did the Ancestry DNA well before my mother did. It was because of my matches that I asked her if she wanted to do one. She was also keenly interested.  I guess after 70 years of very little information we were finding out more than we ever had before so why not.

I had several people who had contacted me through the messaging tool in MyHeritage wondering how we were related but no one with a really close connection. Those that were close, I was (and still am) hesitant to make that first contact. At this time, I didn’t know where or how exactly we were connected and potentially messing up someone else’s life isn’t what this is about.

With my Ancestry test, everything changed. One of the very close matches (2nd cousin) contacted me. We messaged a few times and were able to determine that she was likely a relative on my mother’s birth fathers side, but we had nothing concrete to prove it. In all honesty, it was a bit of a confusing situation. Unbeknownst to us at that time, my mother’s birth grandmother shared the same family last name as her birth father’s grandfather. Two different branches of that family name. A lot of things were mixed up because of that.

It was around this time that Adoption Disclosure Services called to say they were ready to meet with us and go over the documentation they had. Now, we knew the birth mother was already dead so there was no hope of ever meeting her, but at this point we had zero idea who the birth father was. Much to our surprise there was a significant amount of documentation, even the case worker commented that it was unusual to have that much, however the case worker had to redact the birth father’s name from everything. While we learned a tonne about the birth mother and her family, information on the birth father was limited to what he had provided in an interview with Child Services and some minor facts the birth mother had also provided them. We didn’t know yet if he was alive or dead. It was a good meeting with her, an interesting process.

While we waited for my mother’s DNA test to come back , I took the adoption documents and scoured them with a fine tooth comb.  I pulled out whatever details I could find, no matter how small, about the birth father and started digging. It took about 4 days, by then I had it narrowed down to two possible people. I did a lot of searching, researching, investigating and reading over those 4 days. Once I was as sure as I could be of his identity being one of those two people, I contacted the cousin I had been messaging. Together we were able to confirm his identity.  It may sound simple, but trust me it wasn’t. I would say I spent no less than 40 hours working on just that piece of this puzzle. I am not someone who ever gives up easy and I love a challenge. I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt to crack that mystery.  I cheered out loud without any hesitation! When my mother’s Ancestry results came in, with everything we done already, there was zero doubt.

He too was deceased, but the cousin had pictures and family information that I never would have been able to find without her. For the first time in 70 years we were able to see what one of my mother’s birth parents looked like. What other family members looked like. We know who her half sibling are and what they look like. Yes she does look like them, no we haven’t contacted them – nor will we. It’s very likely they don’t know she exists. Not knowing how they would react is a real concern. If one of them were to do a DNA test, it would be very interesting.

I will say the cousin I have been talking to has been amazing. I gave her the opportunity to end the messages, as I know this can be difficult but she never wanted to. She has been open, accepting and so helpful. She welcomed us as cousins right from the get go. At first I asked her to keep the information to herself but since then (on the OK from my mother) I have told her if she wants to share use her own discretion. She knows her family better than we do. She really has been awesome.

That is what Ancestry did for us. I found the one person who proved to be the most helpful, open and accepting individual I could have asked for in this situation. Without her we wouldn’t have pictures and many other things. She allowed me to ask questions and understand some of the other DNA connections I was seeing. I know who’s who now. We do plan to meet soon. We live a good 1.5 to 2 hours away from each other so it hasn’t happened yet, but it will.