By Arline Rowden
Many years ago my oldest sister and her husband did a lot of research on the four branches of my family. It was a retirement project back in the 1990’s for them. They created four books with all the information, pictures and more. It was really interesting to look through them. My Thayer ancestor arrived on the east coast in 1647 from England. My paternal grandfather arrived in 1880 as a young child from Austria. By the 1880’s all four branches of my family tree were living in Wisconsin.
A couple of years ago I sent my DNA into Ancestry and then 23 & Me. I was pretty sure that I was English and German but I was curious. Some of my known family members have tested, too. Several of my nieces, nephews and cousins tested. I come from a very large family. Some names I recognized and some I did not. I set up a family tree on Ancestry with the help from the family books. That helped me to discover connections where I didn’t recognize family names.
Last year I had a message from a young woman who said she thought we had great grandparents in common. Our DNA showed a match. I messaged back with some names and birthdates. Then she messaged that she was the daughter of one of my nephews but he didn’t know about her since her mother didn’t tell him. She was wondering if I could help her make a connection. I connected her with my niece who is a sister of her biological father. I also connected with my nephew through Facebook and let him know that his sister was wanting to chat and gave him her current phone number.
My niece talked to her brother and told him the news. He was very happy to know about his daughter and called her the next day. They live several states apart so they haven’t met in person yet. I also connected her with two of my other nieces and some great nieces. We’re all connected on Facebook. This has been a pleasant surprise for all of us.
Last year another one of my nieces found a half-sister who had been adopted and their father didn’t know about her. Since connecting they have met in person and they are getting to know each other. Another pleasant surprise.
I have joined some Facebook groups that have to do with DNA and searching. Many discoveries don’t have a happy ending but a great many others have been so happy to find each other. There used to be so much secrecy around a baby being given up for adoption and when a mother kept the baby but the father either didn’t know or wasn’t involved. Long Lost Family is a TLC series about connecting family members who have been separated for many reasons. It seems that people usually want to know where they came from and why they were separated.
Another reason I did DNA was to see if my biological son who turned 50 on 2-5-2020 and was adopted as an infant might be searching for me. So far he has not shown up. I’ve also registered on websites and thought I had a match on birthdate in WI but DNA did not match. Recently, I decided to hire someone in the area who does searches the old fashioned way. She has been doing this for over 25 years after finding her biological mother. Only time will tell if he is found and then if he wants to connect. For years, I did not search because I did not want to interfere in his life. But now I feel drawn to connect just to let him know that because I loved him I wanted him to have a life that I didn’t feel I could give him at that time. I will never forget holding him while I was in the hospital in Milwaukee, WI and that we both cried the last time we saw each other. Perhaps we will meet again and I can tell him that I loved him then and still do.