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.

An Ever-Important Attitude of Gratitude

One wintry day in February 1960, an unmarried young woman named Rose gave birth to a healthy, handsome baby boy. She named him Louis. Rose and her family lived in Verdun, Quebec, Canada on the Island of Montreal. Rose could not provide for her son. She had no choice but to relinquish her parental rights. The infant was adopted by a French-speaking couple who gave him the name, Marc . They raised Marc in a French-speaking community in Welland, Ontario. Welland is located on the Niagara Peninsula between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, barely 26 miles from Buffalo, New York.

Marc at 10 months with his Mom

Marc had a happy childhood. He lived with his parents and his brother and had a close extended family. In his career, he specialized in Information Technology (IT) and worked for a major company in Ottawa, Ontario. Over time, Marc’s curiosity about his birth family grew and he decided to get his DNA tested. FamilyTreeDNA posted his results sometime around 2010, I believe. Unfortunately, he did not receive a high match for years and stopped checking regularly. 

I had tested only with AncestryDNA until a friend recommended I branch out and test with other companies, especially because AncestryDNA was not yet available in Canada. Having been born in Montreal, I realized she had a great point. In 2016, I tested with FamilyTreeDNA, Marc’s company. My results came back with our high DNA match!  I was elated, shocked, and mystified—who was this person? While I waited for Marc’s response to my email, I asked folks in Facebook’s DNA Detectives and Free Canada Adoption/Family Search and Reunion about our match. Everyone agreed that Marc’s birthfather and my birthfather were brothers—we were first cousins! 

It was a Hallelujah moment! We were both very excited. We’d found the needle in the haystack—our shared DNA. Marc lives in Ottawa, I was living on Long Island, NY at the time and through DNA, we learned that our fathers grew up together in Verdun, Quebec. It was magical! I was also thrilled that Marc speaks both French and English.

However, even better than finding our DNA link was finding Marc—friendly and funny, down-to-earth, kind, and smart. Everything that intimidated me in our search became a simple to-do task for Marc. I keep telling him to this day, we’d be back at the beginning if he hadn’t followed the leads the way he did. Today, we message, text, FaceTime, and talk on the phone for hours. He has visited us here in Western New York and we got together last summer in Montreal to meet new biological family. We became partners in the search for our identities, determined to unlock the secrets in our closed adoption files. Now, we have become cousins. Thank you, Marc.