Turning the Tide with DNA!

I was determined to learn the identity of my birth father. I’d started my search over 30 years ago. Finally, I received a breakthrough with a strong paternal DNA match. Chapter 16 in Young Love ~ An Adoptee’s Memoir, tells the story of the DNA match that changed everything.

“I have made a number of friends through ancestry.com. We try to help each other. One of my friends recommended that I have my DNA tested with 23andMe and Family Tree DNA. She said that I might find matches that didn’t test with AncestryDNA.

“…What a great suggestion! AncestryDNA testing has only been offered in Canada in the last couple of years, and I have more Canadians than Americans in my family tree. I thought about it for a few weeks because the tests are expensive. But eventually, I sent away for both kits, hopeful for new, close matches.

“23andMe showed a second-cousin match, my closest match yet! She and I emailed and shared great-grandparent names, but we have not found closer common ancestors—yet. Interestingly, she has ancestors on both sides of her family with the same last name, as do I—the same name! She is from Marathon, Ontario on Lake Superior—a beautiful area. She told me that the Group of Seven Canadian painters painted many of their scenes from Marathon. My parents and Joan’s family both had paintings by the Group of Seven in their homes.

“Before long, I got my results from Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). I was thrilled to see a high match at the top of the list—my first high match outside of my family. His name is Marc, and he lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He didn’t test with AncestryDNA. My ancestry friend was right! Indeed, I needed to dip my toe into each pond, as she suggested!

“I emailed Marc with the FTDNA match, but he did not reply to my email for a couple of weeks. Turns out, it was an old email address he rarely used anymore. He had his DNA tested six years ago and had given up checking it because he never had a close match.

“As I waited and prayed for a response from Marc, I posted a new question to the Facebook closed group, DNA Detectives. I gave the details about our shared DNA from FTDNA and asked how Marc and I were related. The consensus was first cousins on our fathers’ side. There was an outside possibility that we were half-siblings, but more likely, we were paternal first cousins. Very, very exciting!

“Marc got back to me: “Hi Bonnie, WOW, if this is true that would be great! Please call me or I can call you. Thanks again.”

“Marc was adopted in Montreal and raised in Welland, Ontario in a French-speaking family. His English is very good. I was surprised to find out that French was his first language. I was so pleased that we could communicate easily. We talked and laughed for a long time. Marc and I share the belief that we have a right to our biological heritage! We don’t want to intrude on families we do not know or upset anyone. As Marc says, “…we’re looking for our roots and maybe to build a friendship.”

“In February 2017, after testing with AncestryDNA, Marc’s results showed up in my match list! There was his name, right below my daughter’s, first cousin! This was the additional proof we’d hoped for to truly believe we are first cousins. As fellow adoptees, we are in this search together, and close matches mean the world to us.”

To learn the whole story, visit:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir  for autographed books, match-ing bookmarks, and FREE domestic shipping! Also available in the FriesenPress Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble online.

Was it Synchronicity?

Young Love ~ An Adoptee’s Memoir Chapter 7–from My First Memoir, April 6, 1988

“My birthday was the next day and I was feeling desperate to connect with my birth family. I finally decided to call the Verdun number and ask if I could talk to one of Joan’s sisters. I felt more comfortable with the idea of talking to another woman, and I knew Grandma Williamson wasn’t ready or she would have called Phyllis at the adoption agency.

“I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more nervous. I had a pad ready for note-taking. At the top, I wrote “Don’t Hang Up…” a favorite song by the Orlons in the 1950s. I just prayed they wouldn’t hang up on me.

“I spoke briefly to Grandma Williamson and then Joan’s brother, John, realized that he should get on the phone. I didn’t know they had two phones. Before I knew it, John said, “Hang up the phone,” in a firm voice. My life passed before my eyes and I almost hung up in despair. Then he started talking to me, and I realized that he had the extension and had been speaking to Grandma. As it turned out, John couldn’t have been kinder to me!

“I was still nervous beyond reason, but he was calm and caring. We talked for about twenty-five minutes. I learned a lot about Joan, and John said I could write to him and send pictures of us. That phone call was my first direct contact with my original family since infancy. I had actually talked to someone who knew Joan!

“I know this is silly, but didn’t Joan work for the phone company? That call never appeared on my bill! Oh, how I wanted to see that phone call on my bill. It would be the written proof that I had talked to Joan’s family. I was dying to see it and pay it! I even called the phone company. They had no record of the call. John told me that Joan worked for Northern Electric for thirty-four years. She was a hard worker, well respected, and active in the Northern Electric service organization, the Pioneers Club.”

When something occurs that seems to be more than a coincidence, it can take our breath away. It’s highly personal, but without apparent cause. It is baffling and mystifying. Carl Jung studied this phenomenon and created a term for these meaningful coincidences: synchronicity. I have become more aware of synchronicity during my years searching for my birthparents and families.

It is not surprising that synchronicity is a common topic in adoption stories. My search angels, as well as the Ville Marie adoption caseworkers, have reported to me that they see highly meaningful coincidences frequently in searches and reunions. In July of 1983, I felt stressed and anxious. I felt an urgency to know more about my birthmother. In Toronto, we discovered that she died on July 21, 1983.

Synchronistic and paranormal events share one critical ingredient, and that is love. Even though it is difficult to prove with scientific study, love is what makes a meaningful coincidence meaningful. Is it possible that Joan’s love was with me on that day when I spoke with her brother? I believe it was.

In Carl Jung’s acausal connection, love is the intangible cause. When we lose a loved one, the love is not lost. We continue to love and adore, and we can feel love in return. My mom and Joan both died from breast cancer. This card represents all the love that will be with us forever.

Visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir for autographed and inscribed books, handmade bookmarks, and FREE domestic shipping! Also available in the FriesenPress Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble online.

Available Now!!

The video teaser for my memoir has graduated from Coming Soon to Available Now! My thanks to the graphic artists at FriesenPress and Promotions Specialist, Oriana Varas. Back in the fall, Oriana and I worked on the script and music, and our favorite photos. She then sent everything to the graphic artists. I received the Coming Soon version while we were visiting our daughter in Rhode Island. One glance and we were thrilled. Today, I am sharing the Available Now version. It’s the little things that mean so much, right?


Visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir for autographed and inscribed books, handmade bookmarks, and FREE domestic shipping! Also available in the FriesenPress Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble online.

I love your “likes” and comments. Thanks so much!

Progress in New York State

On January 15th, just three weeks ago, adult adoptees in New York State were finally, after 83 years, allowed to request a copy of their Original Birth Certificate. Thousands have applied and Facebook groups, both public and private, provide 24/7 support and information to help folks with the application process.

In my memoir, Chapter 9 – Original Birth Certificate, I describe my efforts to get a copy of my OBC. I had no idea what I was doing! In the fall of 1988, after our first trip to Montreal, I decided to try and get my original birth certificate (OBC). My notes indicate that I first called the Montreal Court House. A nasty voice told me my OBC was top secret, that I had a new identity, and referred me back to Ville Marie Social Services. I don’t recall exactly how she knew I was adopted. But I had learned my lesson and tried a craftier strategy with my next attempt.

I kept looking for things that brought my birthmother closer to me. I knew who she was, but I wanted to have proof that she had been pregnant with me and had given birth to me–I craved all tangible connections. My OBC was just that–a single sheet of paper with the name she gave me, my date of birth, and her signature! It was a legal, embossed document that belonged to me! I am thinking a lot these days about my fellow New Yorkers. Whatever the results may be, they now have the right to request a copy of their Original Birth Certificate.

I enjoy making the bookmarks that come with my memoir. It brings back memories of designing and crafting greeting cards when I had my first Etsy shop, Custom Cards By Bonnie. My new Etsy shop, My Adoptee Memoir, has four brand new greeting cards with one of my favorite themes from the book, “there is no one like YOU.” I call them my “identity cards.” The first one has the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon and butterflies. It honors my mom and my birthmother who both died from breast cancer. The next two cards have flower bouquets–one is for Valentine’s Day, the other is a bouquet of Lily of the Valley, my mom’s favorite flower! Each image is hand-stamped and colored with fine-tip markers. The last card has ginkgo leaves from my favorite tree. The leaves are hand-stamped in green. Each listing includes a story under “Item Details.”

My goal is to send a message of support to people touched by adoption and searching for their original identity and family heritage. I also hope to raise awareness in our communities about adoption issues.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyAdopteeMemoir

Happy Valentine’s Day