This has been an unusual week for me. In August 2017 I emailed someone on Ancestry asking how they were related as the individual had no online tree. I suggested the match was for a particular surname.
This week, I got a reply. Yes, it was over 4 years after I sent the initial inquiry. Genealogy is a study in patience!
The woman had not gotten an email from Ancestry notifying her that I had messaged her. Recently, her sister had tested and she decided to go back on and see her matches. She had difficult logging on so contacted Ancestry. What a surprise she discovered when she finally saw her matches.
She was only 22% related to her sister and 21% percent related to someone she had gone to school with. Then she saw my message and discovered the schoolmate had the same surname I was asking her about.
Unfortunately, the schoolmate had died last year so she could not contact him. She found his obituary and discovered he had a brother and the name of his parents.
She was shaken to her core, understandably, as who she thought was her father was not biologically hers. She called her sister who responded by laughing. Her sister, only 2 and a half years older than her, had no idea and hadn’t even looked closely at her own Ancestry results.
The woman spoke with a counselor who told this was just a mistake. The woman didn’t believe it was. She messaged me and we spoke in detail. I was able to send her some personal photos I had of her grandparents as my grandfather had evidently attended their 50th anniversary party in the 1970’s.
She is coping extremely well; it’s difficult discovering a not expected parent when you get your DNA results back.
Now that she has some new family,here’s what I suggested she do as she would like to contact them:
DO NOT – Facebook Message/call/text or show up unexpectedly at their door
DO use either an unemotionally attached middleman or email/mail a letter
Here’s a template I recommend for adoptees that can be tailored to work for NEP’s:
I am (insert your name) and I understand that this note may come as a surprise to you. I don’t want to upset anyone but I am hoping to learn about my family’s medical history. I was adopted in (insert date). Recently, I had my DNA tested through (insert company). I have just been diagnosed with (insert illness) and I’m hoping to connect with my biological relatives who may help me better understand my genetic background. Please know I do not want to intrude. I am simply wanting knowledge about my family’s health. I can be reached at (insert phone) or at (insert email). Sincerely,
I also recommended she read, The Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffeth. In her case, her mother is deceased so she may not ever discover what really happened. It’s likely the father who raised her had no idea but she did not look like her sibling and there was always a joke in the family that she was the daughter of the milkman. The father who raised her was a milkman. It’s unlikely he would have made that joke if he knew the truth.
Like so many others who discover the information, she reported she never felt connected to her family. I do believe we have an unexplainable sense of belongingness to those who share a genetic background with us. Maybe someday how that works will be understandable to us.
In the meantime, I say Welcome, cuz, to the family!