UNDER THE HALO – THOUGHTS AND IMPRESSIONS OF AN ANGEL – WRITTEN BY: KELLY GRACE –
Have you ever watched a TV Commercial for a product that is supposed to give you some sort of fabulous too-good-to-be-believable results? Grow 10 inches of hair in a month! Lose 20 lbs. in a week! Double the size of your bank account (what did you think I was going to say, pervert?) overnight! As you are watching the testimonials a little asterisk appears on screen *Results not typical. So, what IS typical you want to ask?
In doing DNA research, the typical results are that we find the biologicalus paternus. The atypical result is that we got it wrong. First, let me say that every Angel, from our Founder on down to the newest trainee, is human. And humans, in case you did not know, are fallible. It does not happen often, and most of the time when we are giving you our results, we can feel nearly 100% confident that the answer we are giving is correct.
But there is always that niggling doubt. What happens when we say “it’s Joe” but we didn’t know there was another child of the grandparents we have identified? He’s living off the grid in a cabin in the northern peninsula of Michigan, and the nearest phone is a 5-mile walk, uphill both ways, in the snow. He’s managed to erase his fingerprints and his digital footprint and he’s living off organic Kale he grows in his prepper-garden. True story.
Or maybe we ran out of DNA? Grandmom’s matches start at 40 centimorgans and due to the low matches, we’re off a generation somewhere.
Or worse yet, we have low matches AND an NPE situation. Dad was born in Fort Pierce, Florida, which I am convinced is the multi-generational NPE capital of the WORLD.
Or how about this one? Two men, same name, similar dates of birth and similar geographic area leave you wanting to scream “Will the real Robert Johnson please stand up?”
All names, BTW have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
We take it hard when we are wrong. I’ve been there when the half sibling match identified comes back at a whopping 60 centimorgans. It’s a YIKES! Moment. I did not know who to feel worse for, the client or the Angel who got it wrong.
So, what do we do then? We take a deep breath, we go over our results and we ask for a second, or third, set of eyes to review the case for us.
So, what should you do? Refer to the paragraph where I said that we are all human and therefore fallible (yes even the Pope, I don’t care what you were taught in catechism. Excommunicate me, go ahead) and have the grace to let us correct our mistake.
I can’t tell you how much we celebrate in our “family chat room” when you give your Angel the results of your DNA test and we were SPOT ON. Because we do worry. Ask Heid’s husband. She apparently talks in her sleep about not having enough DNA matches to solve a case. Kate has apparently given herself advice on how to solve cases in her sleep. The mystery in Leesha’s DNA kept Laura awake all night. In fact, I can’t think of one Angel that has not been up all-night chewing on a case at some pointxcept Kat, who works all night and sleeps during the day. I’ve had cases haunt my sleep too. They get mixed in with my day job clients and it’s an unholy union of divorce, death, and DNA.
The point is, we are passionate to almost obsession about what we do. We do not take our responsibility, or our commitment to our clients, lightly. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had an idea of how to approach a difficult case come to me while in the shower or eating lunch or watching TV. We do this because everyone has a RIGHT TO KNOW their biological family, their accurate medical history and because someone out there has to answer the question for people who are Googling “How do I find my biological father?”
There’s a saying that was shared with me when I first became an Angel that always has stuck with me. “I love when people who have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.” Because that’s what we are, one and all, bucket carriers for those still struggling.