My test kit arrived to 23andme on Saturday (5/2). It was marked as received Monday (5/4) and today, it was marked as “Analyzing DNA.”
This step is actually comprised of two steps… First, the initial analysis and second, the quality control check. Once the second portion of this step is done, I will have access to my raw genetic data and my ethnicity breakdown (step 5). Only in step 6 will I have access to my genetic matches.
I did make an interesting discovery yesterday. I have traced back this man’s paternal line several generations and filled in a couple hundred relatives and family members. One name, William Matt Begley, stuck out so I ran a search on it. I found a woman who is his great-great-granddaughter of his, down a different branch of the tree. I looked at some of her information and posts on forums to discover that she has taken the Ancestry and Family Tree DNA tests! This is good news because if this man is my father, she could show up as a third cousin! Even if he is, there’s still a chance she won’t show up, depending on how she inherited DNA, but there’s a good chance she could!
I am so excited. I keep checking to see if the status on my test has updated or if raw genetic information is available yet. It’s not, sadly. I don’t expect it to be, but good grief, I wish it was! I am getting antsy!
My Ancestry test won’t reach the lab until tomorrow… At least that’s what the post office says. Unfortunately, tracking hasn’t updated in two days, but who knows. Hopefully I get my 23andme results quickly so I have some information to work with for now!
m a My Ancestry test came in Saturday. Usually they keep it behind the desk but I made a friend at the post office and she knows that I’ve been waiting on it and put it in a lock box for me. Because it was the weekend it had to wait until Monday to go back in, but it’s on its way.
Ancestry is supposed to be one of the better tests for adoptees to do simply for the extremely late database. I think at this point, ancestry has over 850,000 people in their database. That’s a lot of people, but it makes it all the more likely that you’ll catch a hit to a genetic relative when you test.
I am very excited for these results. I’ve gone between a lot of different emotions. But right now, excited it working for me. It’s been a whirlwind of different emotions but now that I’m getting through more and more steps of the process, I am feeling better and better about it. At first I was at a standstill waiting, but then things started moving. First I ordered the tests, then they arrived, then I sent them in, now I’m waiting on results. The closer it gets. The calmer i feel about it, but also, the more excited I get.
Ive been pouring my heart into learning everything I can about genetic genealogy. Ive learned about different chromosomes, inheritance, triangulation and more. I’m ready. I don’t think I could be any more ready than I am.
23andme sent me an email today letting me know that my sample was received and that the testing process has begun. From others I have spoken to, 23andme is getting results about 14 days after the day bits mailed back. I mailed mine Wednesday and I paid to speed up the shipping so perhaps mine will be done soon? Tuesday the 12th would put me at 14 days so maybe I’ll get results sometime next week, or maybe I’ll get lucky and get them sooner.
Either way, I can’t wait.
I have had multiple DNA tests done on me. Some as a child. Most as an adult. They don’t get any easier the more I have. Each one is enough to drive me mad. Do I look like this man? Is this it? Is my search over? Am I going to get the answer I’ve been trying to for so long? Am I going to be right back where I started, plus out the hope, the time and the money for the test? If it’s negative, what next? If it’s positive, what next? What if I never find him? What if this is it? What if I wasted all this time and have nothing to show for it?
It’s enough to drive me crazy. Each and every time.
Then I get the results and my heart sinks to the very bottom of my little toe. Negative. It is always negative. At one point, I started to feel as though a positive just wasn’t possible for me.. ever. I feel absolutely crushed, but sadly unsurprised… every.single.time.
Except last time.
The last DNA test I had done, I saw that bold-type “0%” and I felt angry. It was this instantaneous rage and I said “Something isn’t right,” even though there was no one in the room with me. It just didn’t feel right. It still doesn’t feel right and it wasn’t just a passing thought or a fleeting idea. It’s been over a month and it still feels wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Every little bit of it feels wrong and the more I sit on it, the more I dwell on it, the more I talk about it, the more I write about it, the more wrong it feels. Just when I think it can’t feel any more wrong or any more off than it does, a week passes and it feels a million times more wrong than it did before. And I can’t shake it.
I can’t shake the feeling.
No matter how I try. No matter how I try to rationalize it. No matter how many other theories I entertain, I can’t shake the feeling something is wrong. And at the end of the day, when I try to calm my thoughts for the night, it comes down to this…
Something doesn’t add up.
I don’t like to call anyone a liar, but sometimes it is what it is. Especially when the lies are so obvious. Maybe they weren’t intentional lies. Maybe they were the result of confusion, but regardless, they sure as hell aren’t the truth. Intentional or not, the truth is what I am after and I can’t shake the feeling that what I was getting from Raymond wasn’t the truth.
- The “Black Cloud”
Raymond claims to have a “black cloud” over that time in his life and he “can’t remember” things from that time. He seems to rely on whatever it is his ex-wife, Carla, tells him is true and defends whatever she tells him, quite vehemently, regardless of his own inability to remember it for himself. What is even stranger, is that most of what his ex-wife has told him doesn’t make sense. His ex-wife claims that she and my mother “ran around together.” Funny. My mom said they weren’t close and only hung out a couple times in her living room with Carla’s baby. Carla also seems to know a great deal about my mother’s pregnancy… Which is odd considering the timeline and the fact my mother didn’t tell anyone and skipped state before she was showing. He claims he does not even know who my mother is or remember her at all. Strangely, despite his inability to remember anything from that time, he remembered enough to make a suggestion as to who he thinks my father might be.
- Pregnancy length
His ex-wife supposedly “confirmed” that my mother and Larry got married because she was pregnant with me. They were married December 1, 1987. I was born October 21, 1988. In order for this to be true, my mother would have to have been pregnant, at minimum, 11 months and 3 weeks. I pointed this out numerous times and was met with the very aggressive defense that he “confirmed it with multiple sources.” I’m sorry, but it doesn’t matter what these “sources” say. It is simply impossible. Absolutely and utterly impossible. The dates don’t lie. The hospital records don’t lie. Her marriage record and my birth record (which are publicly available) do not lie. What he is saying and what he believes to be true, is not possible. He even argued with me over this after the results came back, insisting that “It’s the real story,” and that he “confirmed it.” Repeatedly. And when I told him it wasn’t possible, only continued to argue with me. The story changed a couple times too.. She was already pregnant… Then he didn’t know her when she was pregnant.
He does not believe he could be my father because he was gone in February and missed his oldest son’s first birthday, on February 2nd. Clearly, he was gone early in the month, but he doesn’t remember when in January he left Alaska. I would have been conceived (with a generous allotment of time on either side) between January 20, 1988 and February 4, 1988. I am a pregnancy, birth and fertility guru. I have run these dates, run these numbers, given my bests guesses and estimates over and over and over. This is the best time frame I can come up with and unless he knows for sure that he wasn’t in the state at all in that window, then I can’t rule it out.
- Legal test
I wanted a legal test, as I want with every DNA test I have done. Yes, it costs more money but that extra money buys me peace of mind. That extra money buys me photographing, fingerprinting, identification and a chain of custody. That extra money ensures that the party I want tested, is actually participating in the test. I paid for the legal test and he was supposed to call and confirm a clinic location. He claimed they couldn’t do it for him because he was in Dubai. I later found out (after calling the clinic) that they could have but he argued and refused to involve a local hospital, physician or clinic, “due to the culture.” Which, if you believe mainstream media of the middle east, is understable. But when one of my best friends is middle eastern and her entire family lives there and she’s extremely familiar with it and knows that it can be done there? Then yeah, it looks suspicious that he won’t do a legal test, especially when the clinic tells me they tried to make it happen and he was the one who was unwilling.
- Follow-up test
Despite my reluctance to do a home test, I agreed on the condition that a follow-up legal test be done if the home test was negative. I let him know that if it is negative, I would want a follow-up test with confirmed identity, or a test against one of his relatives here in the United States. He agreed. In fact, he said, “I’m ok with that plan… At this point I am not prepared for you to come here. So this plan works for me. Rest assured I will be honest with my swab.” When I requested that confirmation test, he told me “If this test we just did is a trustworthy approach to testing and you trust the testing center than you can count on the result as being final. I fulfilled my promise to you. If you want confirmation testing you will only be wasting money, time because the result will be the same. I’m so sorry for you and wish this would have ended your quest.” I told him that if that’s the case, it won’t hurt to test again. He repeatedly told me it won’t change the results, it will only waste time and money, he’s not my father, instead of just agreeing to a legal test.
I asked him for copies of his alleles from other DNA tests he’s done. Since I was the only one with the results, I was hoping to compare his alleles to the ones of my test. If I had a positive test of his, and the alleles matched the ones on my test, I’d know he was being honest. Unfortunately, the only test of the two he could find, had four alleles that I did not have on my test since mine was a motherless test. I asked him to keep looking for the other one. He asked me for a copy of my test. Why? I’m not just going to hand over that data to be forged. Needless to say, he hasn’t said a word more about finding the other test.
He didn’t even want to take a home test initially. He repeatedly told me how “devastating” a positive would be, despite me telling him (and meaning it) that no one had to know and I wouldn’t breathe a word. It took me suggesting that I could take a test with his family and letting him know that I wouldn’t be giving up just because he told me no to get him to agree. Trust me, there was no limit to the ways he could let me know that a positive DNA test with me would be the absolute worst thing that could happen to him.
These are just a few of the many, many, many reasons why I feel off about this man and the test he submitted. Not to mention, his daughter and his second son look so much like me. They look more like me than any of my mother’s children do… and we know I’m related to them for sure! Heck, his granddaughter could be my daughter’s clone. There’s no denying the insane amount of visual similarities… Something I have never encountered with other candidates.
Maybe I’m right. Maybe he lied. Maybe he lied through his damn teeth. Maybe I’m wrong and he’s just got an extremely shotty memory and is extremely ignorant when it comes to human reproduction. Who knows? I certainly don’t and there’s no way for me to know until I figure all of this out and piece together this insane jigsaw puzzle.
As much as people want to suggest it, I do not think that there is any other possibility for my father. I just don’t. Maybe I’ll find that out when the genetic tests come back, but until then, I really don’t think it is.
Another option is that one of my legal tests was wrong. Maybe there was an error in the lab. Maybe a sample got switched. Maybe a machine was acting up the day my sample was tested. Who knows? I don’t. But like I said in a previous blog post, if this is the case, I know enough about those men that I should be able to see that direction in the results. I will say though, that if one of my legal tests was wrong and I can prove it, I will sue the lab for the emotional turmoil and absolute devastation I have been though for the last nine years. But, really, I think this is extremely unlikely.
If I had to put numbers on it, I’d say that there’s a 99.9% chance that something was wrong with Raymond’s test, a 0.05% chance that one of my previous legal tests were wrong and a 0.05% chance that there’s another possibility.
That’s it. That’s how I feel about it. So far in life, my gut hasn’t steered me wrong. Why would it now? The only way to find out is to wait for these tests. And you know, trace back his paternal lineage 5 generations, fill in about 200+ relatives and identify about thirty possible surnames. At this point, I’m willing to wager that I know more about his family history than he does.
But now we wait.
Right now, I am feeling a lot of things. It’s difficult to pinpoint any one feeling down when there are so many. It’s even harder when those feelings feel so scattered, some longer-lasting, some fleeting and only lasting a few brief seconds. Some make me feel more confident in my suspicions. Some make me doubt everything I have ever known to be true. Some make me feel paranoid. Some make me feel logical. Most make me feel crazy.
I am excited.
No matter what, this is one step closer to the truth. This is one very big step in the right direction. This is a way to get irrefutable proof that would solve this mystery I have been struggling to piece together for nine years.
I am scared.
I am scared of what this test is going to reveal. What kind of ugly truths might this test uncover? What if my suspicions are true? What if I can’t figure it out from my results? What if I’m stuck in the same spot I was before the testing? What if I still don’t know when it is all said and done?
I am determined.
I am determined to figure this out. I am so ready to dig into these results and start searching. Start triangulating. Start reaching out to relatives. Start piecing this puzzle together, one little piece at a time until the bigger picture is more clear.
I am impatient.
I have been waiting so long for this. These tests are exciting and a very real way I could find my biological father’s family. I have been searching for nine years in May. Nine years of my life. That’s over a third of my life. A third of my life has been spent actively searching for my father. It’s only a matter of a few weeks until results will be in, but it feels like forever.
I am ready.
No matter what the tests reveal, no matter how ugly the truths may be, I am ready. I am ready to know, once and for all.
I’ve been putting off writing this. Of course, inspiration and motivation only come to me at night when I’m already warm and cozy in bed. Either way, I want this process documented. I didn’t keep it as documented as I should have for each of my tests, but this one, I am. This one is the big one (although I wish one of the others would have been a big one). This one will help me to figure it out once and for all. At least I sincerely hope it will. The odds are good. And between the assistance I have through my DNA and search groups, as well as the methodology for triangulating matches that is available, I think I can do it. I really do.
My situation is different than most who are on the DNA and search groups I’m on. There’s a lot of adoptees searching, or individuals who don’t have a relationship with a family member and have been unable to locate them. My situation is different in the fact that I am not adopted, but my lineage is unknown. I know nothing. I know what I suspect, but who’s to know if what I suspect to be true, is actually true? Because of this, it’s been difficult to figure out what I need to do. I’ve decided to approach is as an adoptee. I know as much (or as little) as a closed-adoption adoptee would know about their biological father. Perhaps even less in the fact that I couldn’t even get non-identifying info even if I wanted to.I am fortunate in that I am aware of my mother’s lineage and can eliminate that from my search. I know that side and with her testing, it should be relatively easy to eliminate any of her matches from being on my paternal line.
I found a great site called DNAadoption.com. While the site is geared toward adoptees who are using autosomal testing to identify their biological family, it still serves my purposes. It has testimonials, information on where to begin, where to test, what to look for in matches, how to triangulate matches and so much more. Triangulating is (from what I can tell) the hard part. You send your sample, get your results and from that point on, it is up to you to figure out how your matches connect to you and then how they connect to your biological parent; in my case, my biological father.
I do have another slight advantage over an adoptee. I have someone I strongly suspect to be my father and I have managed to trace his paternal line back nearly five generations and then back down to present day, filling in countless cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and in-laws. In total, I have 200+ relatives mapped and figured out on his paternal side. I have yet to figure out his mother’s side, but I do have his paternal side and about 30 possible paternal surnames. This could be useful when I get my genetic matches. Maybe it won’t be, but if he is my father (as I suspect), then there’s no telling what names may come up as being a match.
Another possibility is that one of my legal paternity tests was wrong. I highly doubt this possibility as this would be incredibly rare and unlikely with a legal DNA tests (all of mine with the exception of the most recent one were legal paternity tests). If this is the case, I know enough about most of these men and am on good enough terms with most of these men that it wouldn’t be as challenging (I don’t think…) to determine relation. I am aware of these men, their families and their surnames as well. I am perhaps not as aware of the entire family tree and surnames dating as far back for these men as I am of the family tree, but I think I am aware enough that if the results started to lead in that direction, I would recognize it.
The information on those pages and tutorials is a little hard for me to digest and understand. I think part of it may be because I don’t know what I am looking at quite yet. I don’t have my results in front of me. I have no way to visualize or begin to familiarize myself with what these things are until they come in.
So for now, I wait.
At this point, genetic testing is my last option for finding my father. Honestly, I wish I had looked more into it previously. I didn’t realize how useful it could be in finding biological family members. I had absolutely no idea about it. I had considered doing it in the past, but each time I considered doing it, I found a paternity possibility shortly after and went with a legal paternity test instead. I was seriously contemplating doing the genetic testing this spring but then I found out that Raymond may be my father and opted with a paternity test instead. I had originally wanted a legal test, but he insisted that he couldn’t do it (despite the lab being willing and able to arrange and accommodate and international legal paternity test). I wanted a legal follow-up but he wouldn’t agree to it, as we originally discussed, so instead, I am doing genetic testing. One way or another, Raymond or someone else, I’ll figure out who my biological father is using this testing.
There are three primary places to get a genetic test done.
Ancestry has a DNA test you can use for genealogical purposes. This test is actually really cool, as it will link you to people you may be related to. Given the size of their database, it’s no wonder that people get dozens upon dozens of results for people they are genetically related to.
23andme used to offer health reports but ceased doing so due to FDA regulations or something like that. Either way, they are similar to Ancestry, in that they will provide you a genetic snapshot of your ethnicity, as well as link you to possible relatives. 23andme is quite large, but I do not think it is as large as Ancestry.
Family Tree DNA
Family Tree DNA offers a family finder based on your genetic data that automatically links you to relatives within 5 generations. Even better, is that you can import your raw data from Ancestry and 23andme for a lower fee than their own kit, saving you time and money for results.
My mother is doing all of the same tests I do. This will help to eliminate any matches on my maternal line. From what I understand, the systems will differentiate between maternal and paternal relatives, however, sometimes it can’t tell if a relative is from your mother or your father’s side. In hopes of eliminating confusion, she is testing as well, which will allow me to mark off any matches we have in common (as they will be maternally related) and focus on matches we do not share (as they will most likely be paternally related).
Once the results are in, I will get a list of matches, usually in the form of “cousins,” although this does not necessarily mean that they are a cousin to me. They could be of different relation, but they are classified as cousins when it comes to genetic genealogy. After the list comes back, I’ll eliminate anyone from my mother’s matches and then proceed with the closest cousin I have. To find out how you’re related, you follow the rule of “G.” Start counting the G’s. If you’re second cousins, you share the same great-grandparents. If you are third cousins, you share the same great-great-grandparents. You start with the ancestor you have in common, then work your way down. Figure out all of their children and their children’s children, until you make your way back to the match and yourself.
It can be difficult to trace it back, but with my experience in tracking down public records and sleuthing/cyber-stalking people, I am confident I can handle the job… It just may take more time than I’d like it to. In the meantime, I have been watching videos, reading tutorials, following blogs and gleaning every bit of information I can on how these tests work and exactly how to trace your biological family through them. I am learning everything I can while I wait for results so that it doesn’t take me a second longer than it needs to once they are in.
I have been trying to find my dad for nine years next month. It has been a long, emotionally and financially draining trek. This is it. This is how I am going to find him and I know I can do it. I don’t know how long it will take, but I know I can do it and I know these tests will lead me to my answers, one way or another.
I just wish I had done them sooner.
How many entries and I going to have to title “Negative?” This will probably be the last one, considering there isn’t much left for me to look for. This was the last name she gave me. This was supposed to be the last one. She swore up and down, it was one of those names. There were absolutely no other possibilities, it had to be one of these names on that tiny yellow sticky note she handed me. It just had to be one of them.
Well, it wasn’t.
And now I’m pretty sure I’m never going to know who my father is, and odds are, whoever he is, he’s never going to know he has a daughter, or three granddaughters and a grandson. It sucks. Her selfishness and lack of responsibility and accountability has robbed not only me of knowing who my father is, but this man of knowing he has a child and even grandchildren. Maybe he’d have no interest in us; David sure didn’t, but even so, he has been denied the opportunity to make that choice for himself. And that? That is wrong.
When my mother gave me those names, I had doubts that they were even real names. For a very long time I doubted their validity. Then I found one. And that one confirmed the other. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, my mother had told the truth. She was really trying. She was actually trying to be honest with me and help me. When the first test from the list was negative, I was crushed and I was angry, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was the other man. I can’t get angry if she gave me their names but the first one came up negative. I kept thinking, “Okay. I’ll find them all, and then, if they’re all negative, then I’ll get mad. Then I’ll let her know what I think.”
I am quite literally at the end of my search for my father.
The results are in. I haven’t read them but they are in. I will know in a matter of minutes if David Blanchard is my father or if I will never know who my father is. Regardless of what the results are, this is huge. This is HUGE. People have told me I should be “used” to this rollercoaster by now. Maybe. But this time is different. This time, it’s the end. This is it. If this is negative, there is no plan B. There is no one else to keep looking for.
This is it.
And that scares me.
Several people have asked me what I am going to do if it is positive. What am I going to do if it is negative. The answer is, I really don’t know. Live in the moment. React as it hits me. Either way, I have no idea. I have spent so much time looking that I really never thought much past finding these men, let alone the test results. I don’t know. I really don’t know.
But the results are in.
This is it, kid.
I need to get my thoughts into writing before it’s too late. It can be so easy to get caught up with the daily life (even the not-so-daily life, like everything going on with me right now) and put things off until later. But by putting it off until later, those thoughts become irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how I felt about my impending paternity test results, when I failed to get it out before the results came in. So here I am, getting it out and making an attempt at not becoming irrelevant.
I really don’t know what is going on or how things transpired the way they did. I really don’t. I didn’t expect rainbows or sunshine and I didn’t expect this man to be excited about me, but I did expect curiosity. Instead, I was met with a man who had absolutely no questions about me at all… Except that I not tell his mother that I exist. I didn’t expect a family reunion, but I at least expected he would want to know a little bit about me… Every other man I have tested with did and I have remained friends with most of them. It just… Seems so impersonal.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I don’t know what I expected, except that this wasn’t it.
The DNA test results aren’t even in and I’m already struggling with feelings of disappointment. I’m disappointed with how unlucky I seem to be. Why would the universe torture me by letting me meet all of these awesome people and their families for my prior tests, and the last guy (who I am 99.9% sure is my father) is so… distant? I don’t know. I’m not expecting a hug or a heartfelt talk, but when he speaks to me, it’s almost like he’s be asked to order food when he just finished a five-course meal… Bored, disinterested and putting it off. And that? That is extremely disappointing.
I am disappointed because I am almost certain he is my father, and I really wish it had been one of the other men I had tested with. Those men, even though they know we aren’t related, seem to have more interest in me than this guy does.
I am disappointed at how long this process took. I found him in September and he agreed to the test. I had my swab collected right away. He kept telling me he was scheduling his, and then, he just quit telling me anything at all.
I am disappointed at the lack of communication. He may not want to know anything about me or have anything to do with me, but he did agree to the test and I am extremely upset that he made the decision to ignore me for almost six weeks. He ignored me. I asked if he scheduled, told him I hoped all was well, etc. and he didn’t even have the decency to reply. Nothing. It wasn’t until I texted him (I am pretty sure he was unaware I had his number) that he decided to at least let me know what was going on, and even then, I’m not sure I believe him.
I’m disappointed that he hasn’t been honest with me. He said he has just been crazy busy and that’s why he hasn’t gotten in for his swab… Why didn’t he just tell me that? Why couldn’t he have shot me a message or something and said “Hey, sorry! I’ve been so busy, but I really am trying. Thank you for being so patient.” I kind of doubt he didn’t have time to at least let me know that, considering all the quizzes and youtube videos he was posting on his Facebook account. Then, on top of that, he claimed part of the problem was that the collection site was in Orlando, so he needed two days off to get it done… I checked Google Maps. He lives 1 hour and 10 minutes from Orlando. Why does he need two days to make the appointment? Then, at the end of our one and only phone call, he made the comment about how “now that he has my number…” I have given him my number multiple times through Facebook messaging. It’s not like he didn’t have it or didn’t have access to it…
Even though I am disappointed, I am excited.
I am excited that this whole thing is coming to a close. I am excited to know that I will have my answer, one way or another. I will know that David is my father, or I will know that I will never know who my father is.
I still remember the day my mother gave me the list of names. It was on this teeny tiny yellow sticky note… And she wouldn’t talk to me about. She just handed it to me. No questions allowed. No answers given. It was my problem now. And I am excited…. I am proud to know that regardless of the outcome of this test… I did it. I did the impossible. I found these men. I did what even I didn’t think was possible. Just three months ago, I was sitting at a bonfire telling my almost-step-dad how much it hurt, knowing that I would probably never find David, and how he doesn’t even know I exist. And here I am, at the end of that search.
Tomorrow, David gets his swab taken.
Tomorrow, the countdown begins. Results are by the end of the second working day following the test. I will have instant online access to the results. David will not. We will both then be emailed physical copies of the results approximately two weeks later. I could have access to the online results as early as Wednesday and as late as next Monday.
This is it, kid.