When my second cousin’s son started the process for dual citizenship with Italy (yet another entry in itself), he got lots of hints from the Ancestry website. One name kept popping up that he could not verify nor could he discard the possible link. Through the process of elimination, he traced the connection to my grandfather’s siblings.
My grandfather was ruled out because he had died well before this mystery person, a woman, was born. My second-cousin-once-removed ruled out his mother and his aunt (both greats for me), which left my great-uncle. The one who never had children. The joker. The party boy.
My second-cousin-once-removed contacted her. She still lived in the area she was raised in and taught at a respected Boston university. She took the news well and said it clarified certain things she’d found odd: her entire family looked Irish, but she was dark-skinned and had no freckles and she was a really good seamstress yet everyone always wondered where she got that trait. (My uncle’s sister, Crazy Aunt, had been a professional alterations/tailoring assistant and later, head of the department in her younger years.)
But the thing that had puzzled her for years had been her father’s reaction to something she said years ago. She recalled coming home from school and seeing a man at her kitchen table, drinking coffee. Her mother introduced him as Sam, an old school friend. She thought little of it, and went upstairs to do her homework. When her father sat down to read his paper before dinner, he asked the same question he asked every night: “Anything special happen today?”
Her siblings reported their news of the day without much reaction, but when she told her father smother turned toward the sink as her father stared in silence at her back. She wasn’t sure why, but she knew she’d said something terrible. Dinner was quiet that night. Adults could be strange.
Now, five decades later, she realized that even though she had no idea of it at the time, she’d met her biological father that day.
Our friend’s daughter had a similar surprise.
Her parents are now deceased: her mom, her step-dad, her biological dad and his wife. Shortly after the death of her last living parent, the daughter did an Ancestry DNA test and found she did not match with who she thought was her bio dad. Instead, her biological dad was a guy named Richard from the same NC town that the daughter was born in.
We don’t know who knew what and when, if at all. My girlfriend had obviously had an affair, but she was married at the time. The man the daughter thought was her biological father didn’t know because he paid child support and made her visit each summer and lead a very strict religious life for 3 months. Did her mother, who divorced her daughter’s (not really) biological father shortly after she was born, know? Or did she just not know?
Richard did not know of her existence. He was happily married for years with two daughters about the age of my neighbor’s daughter. Richard and his wife have welcomed her but my neighbor’s daughter is still processing and taking it slow.
So, DNA is an interesting topic, but be prepared to find and embrace surprises and be okay with that. Mankind makes mistakes, but I’m not so sure that those mistakes always hurt us.