Friday, March 5, 2021

Gina's Journey - Part 1: Adoptee Matches Deceased Relative

Ancestry DNA results
As with a number of adoptees who have contacted me during the past four years, Gina (not her real name) connected through AncestryDNA. She had a close cousin match with another kit that I manage for a relative who is deceased. Her first message to me was a standard inquiry, void of any personal information or reason for reaching out to a particular DNA match. I suspected she was sending the message out to all of her close matches with the hope that someone would return an answer. But as she was attempting to inadvertently contact a deceased relative and I was the administrator for this person’s DNA, I was apprehensive about sharing information and my private family tree with an unknown DNA match.

Before I responded to Gina’s message, I quickly did a scan of my own DNA results. Yes, she was there, but as a distant cousin relationship to me, sharing a much smaller quantity of centimorgans than with our deceased cousin. Applying Ancestry’s shared cousins filter, I immediately recognized Gina was related through my paternal (and endogamous) family line because all of our shared matches were color coded blue representing my father’s DNA lineage. Examining the long list of shared cousins, many of whom I recognized, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint our common ancestral line. But I didn’t have enough detailed DNA information to zero-in on our closest common ancestor.

My response to Gina was this: “I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are or what you are looking for. I only share my private tree with cousins or people I am familiar with, and those who tell me the ancestors they are searching for.”

Although this was somewhat of a brusque reply, it did the trick! Gina answered back, telling me she was adopted and looking for her birth father’s identity. She had a list of suspected surnames possibly related to her paternal line and she believed they were all from Illinois. Well this was a surprise as none of the surnames she mentioned were on my tree, with the exception of one – and that was on my maternal side. From our shared cousin matches, I was certain our common ancestor would be found in my paternal family. This ruled out the one recognizable surname in her list which belonged to one of my maternal 2nd great-grandmothers.

 And there was another problem – all of my family, both maternal and paternal originated in Pennsylvania. Although there was a distant branch of my paternal tree in Illinois, Gina did not share any of these Illinois cousins with me or our deceased cousin. I was baffled!


Ancestry DNA results



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