Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Mom's an NPE, and now Dad's probably an NPE too...

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Mom's an NPE, and now Dad's probably an NPE too...

    I've only recently joined but I've been a lurker here for quite a while. I feel compelled to post a bit about my story because I've seen a fair number of people, both in this discussion forum and others, using their paper-trail family trees as proof that a DNA result can't be correct, or saying how a physical resemblance proves that someone is related or the lack of resemblance proves that they're not related to someone else, etc etc. My recent experiences now have me firmly in the category of "skeptical unless proven by DNA" and that leaning on paper trails and pictures as proof of relationship can be a big mistake.

    My DNA journey began in 2008 when I had my husband tested by National Geographic. He was adopted at birth and we'd been searching for his birth mother off and on for years with no success and I thought the DNA would be a neat way to show some kind of genetic history to our children, even if it was broad in scope. Fast forward to the past few years. I became heavily involved in the adoptee rights movement (unrestricted OBC access for all!). DNA's come a long way and my husband tested with 23andMe, Ancestry, and FTDNA (FF, mtDNA and Y67). Major sleuthing on my part, coupled with opened court records and a 2nd cousin DNA match, finally led us to a happy and successful reunion with his birth mother in April 2014 (yes, it was confirmed with DNA, and no, he doesn't look a thing like her!). Along the road I also did DNA testing with the big three too, just for fun. Then my mother decided she wanted to be tested too, so that she could find more French cousins, and then she talked my dad into it as well.

    Enter chaos.

    I noticed something was amiss with my mother's test results on 23andMe when my first cousin (who had tested on his own at 23andMe around the same time as my mom, unbeknownst to me) didn't match me or my mother %-wise - he was only half of what he should've been - indicating that his father and my mother were half-siblings. The cousin's father is deceased so I asked another of my mother's brothers to test here at FTDNA (so I could eventually upgrade to Y) and at 23andMe too (where my cousin tested) and he showed a full uncle/nephew relationship to my cousin but only half to me as his niece and he showed as a half-sibling to my mother. So... logic lead me to one of two scenarios: either the two full brothers are NPEs (they're #1 and #2 of the 6 children) or my mother, their half-sister, is the NPE (she's #6 of the 6)... and obviously we lean toward her. We're going to have the remaining living brother tested when finances allow but we feel sure he too will show as a half-brother to my mother. This whole thing caused a great deal of distress to my mother and in effect tossed my years of paper research on her paternal genealogy right out of the window.

    Meanwhile, my father did the FF here at FTDNA and I had plans to eventually upgrade him. His mother's paternal line is well-documented via a large project over in Wales, but he was adopted by his stepfather as a teenager and I had nothing much to show for his father other than some posts on an Ancestry surname forum, and I wanted to dig more into that line. His FF results came back and he is indeed my father (I didn't ever doubt it before but with the way things were going with my mother, I admit it was a relief to see...) but I didn't recognize too many other names, other than a few distant hits related to his mother. I had just upgraded him from FF to the Y-37... and then he died December 10th, 2014 after a very short illness. I called an old aunt, his mother's sister-in-law, and let her know that my dad died and the convo meandered into me doing his DNA in a casual search for his father's family... and she told me, "Honey, that man is not his father. Your grandmother didn't know who his father was..." Long story short, Granny was a party girl in the 40's and got pregnant with my dad. Old aunt and her husband (granny's brother) were going to adopt him but then Granny married a guy right before my dad was born, and that man was listed as my dad's father. My father's two younger siblings by that man, who could prove or disprove the paternity issue, are both deceased. Thankfully his sister has one living child, my cousin, who has tested with FF and I am awaiting results to see if we come in as full or half cousins... but I feel pretty sure it will be half. (I also want to upgrade her to the full mtDNA so I can solidify my grandmother's maternal line...) I'm still waiting on my father's Y-37 results and who knows what I'll find there. I'm just hopeful that I can get enough testing done on the one sample of his that I was able to submit because obviously there's no more forthcoming now that he's gone.

    Anyway... so my mother's father is now unknown, and my father's father is probably now unknown, half my family tree is out the window, and my adopted husband, who had absolutely zero info for years and years, now has a family tree that's way more complete than mine. How ironic is that?

    My point is this: just because you look like your dad and you have paper documentation back to Mr. Fabuloso Ancestor from 1650 doesn't mean that you're descended from him. Adoptions happened. Men and women had affairs. Women were raped. All kinds of scenarios occurred that we can know nothing about... and nowadays people don't blink twice at a single mother but back in the day great pains were taken to camouflage it with quickie marriages or adoptions. People hid adoptions because being infertile was shameful too. Who wants proof that their parent or grandparent admit to stepping out on a spouse? Or to find out that old granny liked to have a good time? I imagine not many people, but if you want the truth of who you are, you have to be open to the reality of what was. Paper's great... and resemblances are great... but for people who are truly interested in their real genetic heritage, those things are not proof. Not to me anyway. Not anymore. I have always been so proud of my ancestry and my big family tree that I have spent years working on... but now half of it's gone and I'll be using paper and photos only as an adjunct to my genealogy reseach. So... happy family hunting to us all, but be prepared for surprises and be open to other scenarios too.

  • #2
    Wow

    Comment


    • #3
      blood or not these man are your family.
      DNA is not Family !

      I hope you keep your tree as is and add to it.
      These man loved their families and that had nothing to do with DNA.

      Comment


      • #4
        NPE's

        Along the way things happen!! I don't know exactly where my NPE happened - I suspect either my great-grandmother or my great-great grandmother (on my paternal side). My y-dna points to a particular surname. I match fairly closely with several of the same surname and the surname was found living next door in the 1830 census to my current surname. I also did the family finder DNA and can confirm several cousins on my maternal side. I have only one or two confirmed matches on the paternal side. I have several matches (which I can't confirm because of my NPE) that have ties to my close y-dna matches. I think if everyone is honest, they will come to realize that NPE's are common and something we cannot control.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hazel, I don't discount the love and affection that my grandfather had for my mother. He believed she was his daughter and he loved her, and she loved him too, and he'll always be my grandpa. That being said, I personally want the facts of my genetic heritage and not the stories that were woven to cover indiscretions. I loved both of my grandfathers very much and nothing will change that but in regard to the genetics, I'm sticking to facts. It's what works for me.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you for sharing the story, and condolences on the recent loss of you father.

            I too have had to throw away a part of the family tree, after sufficient DNA testing. It's hard to let go something you've spent a thousand hours or more working on, but if it's wrong, it's wrong.

            Now, regarding the whole concept of what exactly is a "family tree" and who belongs in one, I think the problem is that the old (and I think antiquated) paradigm of family trees is really holding us back here. While there are ways of adding "alternate" parents to people, using various family tree software, the diagrams insist on only having one person show up in a diagram, for any given "parent" slot.

            As time goes forward, as we see now with donated mitochondria-laden ova being used in "three parent" individuals, we need to update our paradigm of what exactly is a "family tree".

            Comment


            • #7
              Genetic vs "Experiential" Ancestors

              It all goes back to the nature/nurture debate, doesn't it? Personally, I am interested in both my genetic ancestors and my "experiential" or adoptive ancestors. I learned two years ago that my father's birth was an NPE, and I have since identified both of his biological parents ... unwed teenagers who were literally next-door neighbors. The girl's much older married sister "took in" my father, but while he sensed that his presence was deeply resented by his adoptive father, he was never told the truth. I also know there was at least one other NPE in my paternal pedigree, about 120 years before my father, and have built a strong case for his identity. But I will never solve that one with anything approaching certainty. And then there is my mysterious 1.5% Native American DNA ...

              Comment


              • #8
                Everything which has been posted is very relevant. I tell my relatives who are all "gah..gah" over family research to make sure the starry eyes are gone. Unless you really want to know the truth...don't get into it because you will be sorely disappointed.

                This was even true when there was only paper trails, paper documentation, oral history, sitting for endless hours in front of microfiche machines with a two year old held between your knees so you could do research , letter writing and feet hitting the pavement in cemeteries and visits to unknown relatives and neighbors of those relatives to glean a little info.

                What I have discovered in over forty years of research is that NPEs are rampant. It's part of every generation and it's part of genealogy.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by S9 H9 View Post
                  TNow, regarding the whole concept of what exactly is a "family tree" and who belongs in one, I think the problem is that the old (and I think antiquated) paradigm of family trees is really holding us back here. While there are ways of adding "alternate" parents to people, using various family tree software, the diagrams insist on only having one person show up in a diagram, for any given "parent" slot.
                  Right... and it's not that I think the man who raised my mother doesn't deserve to belong in the family tree of my heart - he does, he was my grandfather, and I loved him - but if I'm going to do a tree that is an accurate representation of genetics and DNA facts, then no, he really can't be there because we're not genetically related.

                  Fwiw, I was pretty freakin' sad when I looked at all the research and realized that I have no genetic connection with these people whose stories have been such an integral part of my entire life, and my identity too.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hope you can find room for both in your tree, both nature and nurture. Where I have found NPEs I have also included the non-genetic ancestors in my tree as they have also had a significant influence on how we have developed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My father's adoptive parents were first cousins, and his biological mother was the sister of his adoptive mother. So I only had to "discount" a single generation of ancestors!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tenn4ever View Post
                        Everything which has been posted is very relevant. I tell my relatives who are all "gah..gah" over family research to make sure the starry eyes are gone. Unless you really want to know the truth...don't get into it because you will be sorely disappointed.

                        This was even true when there was only paper trails, paper documentation, oral history, sitting for endless hours in front of microfiche machines with a two year old held between your knees so you could do research , letter writing and feet hitting the pavement in cemeteries and visits to unknown relatives and neighbors of those relatives to glean a little info.




                        What I have discovered in over forty years of research is that NPEs are rampant. It's part of every generation and it's part of genealogy.
                        I agree 100% and just had the cemetery search this past Aug. in search of a "lost" child. Took me 10 years to locate him. I never knew this child(brother of my nana) he died at age 5(1934) This child was never talked about nor was his father(my nana's father) but in my heart this child was family and needed to be placed into our tree. He needed to be remembered. So when I found out it could be him , on the day we laid my Papa(grandfather) to rest my children,hubby and I looked for him. 5 of us searching,digging up covered markers. And then there he was this forgotten little boy. We put flower on his marker and said a prayer for the child we never knew. That is what family is.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have to wonder too... did my dad know? Was he just keeping it a secret to protect his mother's reputation? All these questions and I'll never know! He and my mom have been divorced for many years now - 43 years, maybe? - and he didn't want to do DNA for quite a while. It was only when my mom told him on Facebook that her brother was doing it, that he decided to do it. My uncle and dad were in the Navy together in the 60s and were pretty competitive, LOL! I'm just really glad he did it, whatever the reason.

                          The old aunt who shared the potential NPE news with me is 91 years old and she is the only historian I have now for that part of my family. By some coincidence she also lives down here in New Orleans (dad's family is from Pennsylvania) so I'm headed to pay her another visit in the next week or so because, as she put it, "I'm 91 and you never know when I'm gonna kick it, so you better get over here soon." LOL!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hazel_ion View Post
                            And then there he was this forgotten little boy. We put flower on his marker and said a prayer for the child we never knew. That is what family is.
                            That's so sweet and thoughtful! As the saying goes, "What is remembered, lives."

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X