Under the Halo – Thoughts and Impressions from an Angel
Written By: Kelly Grace
Scene: Our heroine in her favorite lime green DNAngels hoodie and matching fuzzy socks sits down to review the new case assigned to her. Client has a 1685 match and 10+ matches over 200 centimorgans! WOW!! This should take longer to map then to find our missing “biologicalus paternus”! She opens her computer; her face lit by the glow of the screen and looks over the DNA matches for the client. Top match, no tree. Ok, not a problem, keep going. Second match: 986 centimorgans. Kit is managed by… top match (insert face palm). Ok, keep going, don’t panic yet. Next match 568 centimorgan. They have a tree! It’s just their Mom’s side. Next match 307 centimorgans, tree has 3 people in it, and they are all private.
It’s at this point that our heroine goes for the Scotch and chocolate. This SHOULD BE an easy solve. But none of the matches have decent trees. So, what do we do now?
Finding a biological parent is 1/3 Genetic Genealogy, or interpreting the DNA matches, 1/3 traditional genealogy, which is searching for records and building trees, and 1/3 good old-fashioned stalking. Since the traditional genealogy isn’t helping me support the DNA, it’s time to resort to tracking these people down and finding out everything I can about them.
The husbeast jokes that he would never try to hide from me, because he wouldn’t be successful. In my own experience, when I had no idea how I was related to this stranger in my DNA matches (1835 centimorgans for those of you who are curious) and she refused to tell me how we were related, I went FULL STALKER MODE and sent her a message back that could have included the following: Her name, date of birth, high school, year graduated, first husband, second husband, daughter’s name, siblings’ names, criminal history, shoe size and what she had for lunch the day before. Ok some of those things I am kidding about, but I’ve found crazy stuff pop-up in my searches. Sometimes I strike gold and sometimes… pyrite. Some people just know how to stay undetectable.
One time, I had an adoptee with a father with a GENERIC NAME. Mom GAVE HER his name, date of birth, the street he lived on in the 70s and what she thought he did for a living. I found him! Traced him to the address on that street, the date of birth (year was wrong but month/day correct), right name and the profession was close; both wore uniforms that looked similar — and I could see the man saying he was one profession and not the other. One was more “glamorous”. I gave her the number, she called, and he flat out LIED AND SAID IT WASN’T HIM, but admitted he lived at said address, had said birthday, and the profession. DON’T TRY TO HIDE FROM ME.
Since I can’t let this end on down note, here’s your D*sn*y “Happily Ever After” ending. Same time, I had an NPE with a father with THE SAME NAME as the client above, but different location. I was frustrated. I found Grandpa (same name as “Dad”) and it was rumored Gramps had a second life with a second wife, which seemed be supported by a son no one knew about as his Junior. I identified maternal great-grandparents, but I couldn’t find where one of their daughters married the grandpappy. In frustration I tell the client that the grandmother is going to be somewhere along “this” familial line and give her the names. Damned if she didn’t take that and run and teach me a thing or two about how to coax answers from the Texas Birth Index. She shook her family tree and out popped our missing grandmother and her son aka “Dad”. She has reunited 8 of Dad’s 10 or so children who were not very close before but have come together to welcome her into the family.
All this to say that even though our screening team does a FANTASTIC JOB, not every case is what it seems at first glance. I’ve had plenty of “easy” cases turn out to be not solvable until we get more information, and other cases that look like they are just sad from the word go turn out to be the ones that get their answers the fastest. Part of it is a client’s willingness to jump in and help. In both cases, the clients were FEARLESS, making calls, uploading, downloading, sending messages and diving into records. Both stories are bittersweet, there are happy elements and sad. Those are their stories to tell, however.
And so, our heroine closes her laptop, looks off into the distance and smiles softly. It’s been another good day of hunting. The mythical figure “biologicalus paternus” is evading her at the moment, but she knows where he just may be hiding.