I Have Something To Say – A DNA/NPE Story
I’m sorry, I hoped this would be short, but, I get ahead of myself. As the first case Laura took on to solve, (up until a few weeks ago), I was the longest, unsolved case. Now, I have a name to identify my biological father. However, instead of only closing one door, its only opened up others.
Please, first an explanation with a basic history of me. Born and raised in an all white Catholic Midwestern family, I was the fourth of ten children. My siblings were fair skinned, blue eyed with straight hair, and features that revealed they were all pretty much ‘cut from the same cloth’ . With my dark curly hair, I tanned easily in the hot sun of, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. My memories consist of a loving, accepting, chaotic family with rarely a thought (and never an explanation) of why I looked different.
If there was an explanation, it was just sufficient enough to cease my incessant questions of ‘why and how.’ Yes, I experienced all the expected discriminatory slights and comments one of my looks might expect in 1950-70s. Throughout the spring of 2014, multiple DNA tests proved my racial, ethnic and sibling relationship with my family. It did not explain how my mother and bio father met. Primarily through Ancestry.com, I built a family tree based on my mother and my birth certificate father, a history and relatives I knew.
Intro To NPE Support Groups
In 2017, I was introduced to a few NPE groups who offered support and the stories of others in similar, yet different situations (yes, I know, an oxymoron). Within one group, I found someone who might be able to help me. By late 2018 my Angel, Laura, took me on as her first case. Predictably, it was a long shot and difficult at best. Her efforts truly, I mean truly, would change a large part of my life forever.
Soon, word of Laura’s skill at finding relatives, building trees and general DNA knowledge grew and she took on additional voluntary cases. While she moved on with these, my case grew cold. As with many NPEs, we were hampered by a lack of those willing to test. Yes, I found that some folks are not as interested in finding out who I AM as I am (yes, you read that right). In the meantime, I attended social meetings of NPEs and supported other sites and Laura’s fledgling DNAngels in any way I could.
During this search, I was connected to a close cousin DNA match. I had identified more distant relatives, yet none was close enough to really help. However, through this cousin, I had another DNA match that identified as a half niece. With this new match and some corroborating search documents, I finally had a bio name and some basic information.
Initially, it was hard to grasp this new found information. With so many hits and misses, lack of response and disappointments, I finally had my truth! Still, I felt rather flat and unemotional until I finally offered Laura a simple, heartfelt “Thank You.” As tears welled up inside me, we shared a thanks and a relief that her fist case was solved. I call her, affectionately, My Bulldog, because she never gave up and never let go.
Then, on Superbowl Sunday, just before the game, my niece contacted me by phone. It was a gentle, caring, yet tentative, call, with the hopes and promises of meeting her, and the cousin, as soon as this covid thing eases up.
The point of all this and its good to have a point – it makes it so much more interesting for the reader) is that the DNAgels found a part of my life I might not ever found. My case was not the greatest or most sudden surprise to me. Years of my appearance, birth order, rude and hateful comments, all that shit, reinforced I was different in a profound way. Mine always started as an investigation and continued with the real pros at DNAngels. They can help you find a part of your life, too, really. They can, or at least pursue it, as doggedly as they did mine.
Support is also a valuable service they provide. Through their always-evolving social media platforms, those new to this can find help, a big shoulder, and a forum to learn, and teach, each other. Since there is a biological constant to our situation, there is no shortage of ‘us.’ It is a target-rich environment.
That support also should also go to the DNAgels organization itself. It takes resources of all sorts, emotional, financial and volunteers. It’s enough to know that those who came before us supported those who might have just solved your case. Thank you, in advance.
While editing these thoughts, I come to find these are a microscopic part of what runs through my brain each day. Its like a background app, running silently, yet prone to self-indulgent ramblings. I think this is common to us all. It’s somewhat less like self-pity and more like self-realization, which apparently has no age limit. Uh, Duh!!
From Number One to Someone, the road continues but with much more direction. I am a blessed man in many ways, despite my demons. My truth isn’t always comfortable and I wear it a bit more publicly now since the subject is often broached in news and conversation. I have much more to say and a self-imposed responsibility to offer what bit of guidance and understanding I have found.
To Laura, and all who take on these cases, I offer my unbridled thanks. I know that you will never forget me, and I like that feeling. Please keep doing what you’ve started. You are discovering and preserving the life stories of ancestors, both the good and the less so.
What a life giving gift you have shared with me.