Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Latest Breakthrough on My Birth Father Search

by Lynn Grubb
musings about adoption and searching since 2005

It's been a year since my last update, with a big disappointment on a lead the search team was following closely for some time.  You can read about that at my blog titled, "Back on the Birth Father Rollercoaster Awaiting DNA Results.".

Some of you may not know, but my search for my birth father was THE THING that inspired me to begin this blog that you are reading today.  I wanted a place to document the search as it unfolded.

My search blogs are not my most popular; however, one day I hope to turn them into a book, if/when this winding road ever leads to an actual live human being.

It was Christmas 2012 and I was asked to read and review a book for Lost Daughters.  It was Richard Hill's book, Finding Family:  My Search for Roots and the Secrets in my DNA.  Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down because it gave me the one thing that I had almost given up:  HOPE.

By 2012, it was not looking good for me that I was going to get any solid answers about who my birth father was via my birth mother, who I met for the first time in 2006, at the age of 40.  Prior to Richard's book, I had researched DNA testing, but at the time, it was mainly helpful to males seeking fathers via the Y chromosome and not females seeking fathers.

Then a newer technology came on the scene:  autosomal DNA testing. This type of test checks your autosomal chromosomes, the other 22 pairs beyond the sex-linked X and Y chromosomes.  This was fantastic news for women with unknown fathers like myself.

I started with testing my dna via Family Tree DNA in March of 2013.  You can read about those results at my blog titled, "My Ethnicity Revealed: Sort Of:".  It would be several more years before I could pin down an actual location that my birth father's people originated.  Early on, I learned I was approximately 30% Native American which was quite a shock to me and along with the N/A, was Iberian, which pointed to me being Latin American.  This was not something I ever expected considering I believed myself to be Italian. You can read about my shock and how I attempted to process these results at my blog titled, "The Reluctant Latina: How a DNA Test Can Change Who You Used to Think You Were".

Eventually, I tested in all the current mainstream DNA tests on the marketplace, started helping other adoptees locate their birth parents and last year, I joined a local DNA interest group.

About a year ago, 23 and Me began pinpointing, using data they collected about testers' grandparents' birth places to make educated guesses about what locations in the world testers may originate.  23 and Me said I originated from Peru.  I had suspected for some time, via my search group that I was Peruvian; however, the high number of Mexican dna matches had always thrown me off.  Was one of my grandparent's Mexican?  Why were so many of my DNA matches in the same places in Mexico over and over and others in similar places in Peru?  I scratched my head on that one for quite some time.

In 2017, I matched with a Peruvian who was living in Dayton, Ohio named Cecilia.  She is a warm, loving and amazing cousin and our families connected and she has joined my search team.  She too has a lot of Mexican dna matches but has all Peruvian ancestors (a clue!).
How Genetic Genealogy Works Simplified

A few months ago, I received my closest Peruvian match yet via Ancestry.  He was a 4th cousin, which when you are searching for a recent immigrant like I am, all your matches are 4th cousins are farther out.  Fortunately for me, he was a Peruvian living in Boston, MA and open to helping me.

There have been many Peruvian people I have dna matched living in the US who have been kind and responded to messages; however, many of them do not have trees, and have no idea about their ancestors.  They promise to ask family members and I never hear from them again. I get it; people are busy and I just move on to the next clue and keep plugging along.

But Nicolas was different.  He seemed genuinely interested in my situation and really seemed to want to help.  He offered to take a dna test back to Peru when he visited over the summer to test a relative.  I shipped him a My Heritage test.  It was on sale and it has been pointed out to me by one of my search angels who lives in South America that many latinos use My Heritage for testing and I have seen many latinos put their trees on My Heritage as well.

I waited.  On Thursday, I received an email that the My Heritage results were in.

I am Nicolas' grandmother's closest dna match-predicted second cousin 1x removed
Similar to what Richard Hill's book did for me back in 2012 when i read it when it gave me HOPE, this dna test result has renewed my HOPE that has been lagging over the last year.  We have other family members to test to be sure this closer result is not due to endogamy; however, the search team has been working on Nicolas' tree for several months.  Nicolas said something to me that really warmed my heart:  "Well, we know you are Peruvian!" A happy day indeed for me!

I am so grateful to Nicolas for being willing to help identify our other shared matches at Ancestry, being willing to transfer his dna to Gedmatch, answering questions I have about ancestors, and for being willing to dna test his family members.  This is the kind of help that each and every adoptee needs in order to get the answers they seek.  I want to encourage anyone reading this to be that person -- the one who is open to helping someone you DNA match.

To be continued . . . .

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