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Not a success; my emotional response

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  • Not a success; my emotional response

    This is quite off-topic of DNA success, but I hope for some support.

    I realized I'm having an emotional conniption fit. I have a non-paternal event, aka unofficial adoption. My mother had an affair, so the man who raised me is technically a step-father. This was an open secret in the family. After I was born, my mother descended into alcoholism which colored our family life forever & ever, amen. I never had a conversation with her as an adult that wasn't about her going into treatment or buying her food. She went on a mind-destroying binge when I was 26 & she died when I was 42.

    Where I'm stuck is: through Family Finder, I'm finding all these successful, intellectual types on my paternal side. The side of my family that never knew about. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, professors, politicians.... I'm the only one of my siblings to have gone to college or who was really interested in it. I've always had an intellectual bent and felt like a loner in that respect. Nature vs. nurture argument, I suppose. So let me say I'm jealous of my lost paternal side, and I feel quite left out. Of course one can't change the past, and one must deal with what is handed to them. The effects of an alcoholic home left me with depression and I see all these cousins who had quite the different life.

    I don't think I'll be stuck in this place for long. I just wanted to put that out for discussion to see if others in similar situations have had this reaction from finding their distant cousins.

  • #2
    Onwards and Upwards ...

    Originally posted by manoss View Post
    ... but I hope for some support.
    I don't think I'll be stuck in this place for long. I just wanted to put that out for discussion to see if others in similar situations have had this reaction from finding their distant cousins.
    I haven't anything relevant to offer, except support !

    For what it's worth, I think that the very act of 'airing' your concerns shows strength and determination, and I feel confident for your future. And be careful what you wish for - the 'professional ... cousins' are bound to have their own private trials and tribulations - which you may have been fortunate to avoid.

    Take the high road. Whatever you do, do it well. The Universe looks after those who look after themselves. Peace.


    • #3
      Similar situation here.

      I was a legal adoption (the unwed mother story). At age 31, I found out that I was adopted and at age 55 finally found my mother. I have two younger siblings (both biological children) in my adoptive family. They are both successful in their fields but college (or the lack thereof) had nothing to do with that success. On the other hand, I have the multiple degrees and letters after my name. I considered myself successful as well.

      Then I met my mother and her family. Momma and I have matching MBAs. Major math genes in that family and I got them too. I'm about average among them although I was the academic success in my adoptive family.

      Would I have thrived in a more competitive family? Maybe, maybe not. My mother had problems "finding her niche" - and possibly that led to yours truly coming into existence.

      Being raised by an alcoholic was not my experience but I have several friends who went through that. Most of them believe that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

      Good luck in finding your father. I'm on a DNA hunt for mine and my prime candidate was an alcoholic who was severely abused by HIS father. If he's the one, I've got two brothers who were raised by him.

      Adoption (legal or unofficial) doesn't give you a "better" life, only a different one.



      • #4
        Feel it!!

        I am also an adoptee. I found my birth mother and she is "interesting" to say the least. She doesn't want anything to do with me and has done her best to prevent any of her family members from speaking to me. I grew up in a very normal family so I am lucky.
        I didn't have the experience that you did, BUT I know how it feels to be hurt and disappointed etc....You will mourn the loss that you feel and I bet after some time (not long) you will start to feel better. Sometimes things just hurt and can't be redone.
        I agree with the other quotes, talk about your feelings! We are out there and we will listen.
        Feel Better!


        • #5
          Another adoptee here. Found out when I was 28, almost 20 years ago now. Dysfunctional adoptive family. I was the only one to get an education. Always felt like I didn't fit in. A familiar story.

          In any case, I managed to find my birthmother's family--and I resemble them in a lot of ways, but not that one--I'm nearly the only one with a college education there, too! Unfortunately, my birthmother died years ago in a car accident, so I have very little information on my birth father.

          I think all of us as adoptees live with the ghost of who we might have been. Maybe everyone does (we've all had forks in the road, after all), but for adoptees, it can loom large. For me, there have been different answers at different times.


          • #6
            Sorry to hear of your current state of mind and the painful memories of your relationship with your mother. Good to hear you've been able to at least learn the truth that so many others out there are still looking to find.

            I wouldn't necessarily look at your differences with your "half" biological family and chalk that up to genetics. I'm aware of many fully biological siblings brought up in the same household who ended up with a wide array of differences related to intellectual pursuits, academic or carreer success, or general view of the world and what is important, or following in their parents footsteps with regard to alcohol dependence or depression. Your life is what you make of it and you need to live with and own the decisions you have made. Meanwhile your bio-father also appears to have made at least one less than ethical decision with the extramarital affair, so I would also consider taking off the rose colored glasses when you look at that side of the family. The grass isn't always greener. Every family has it's good and bad points and I'd suggest making the best of the relationships that you have left while you can.

            Meanwhile I'm aware of adoptees who have been raised in dysfuntional adoptive homes and others raised in very stable homes that allowed them to avoid the dysfunctional or tragic life that their biological family lead. For anyone raised in dysfunctional homes, whether adoptive or fully biological, you have my empathy and hope you'll do your best to provide something better for your children.


            • #7
              It isn't necessarily looking for grass that is greener, but just looking to find out who you are genetically and medically. I have known that I was adopted at birth since I was about 5 years old and it was never kept a secret from anyone.

              At the tender age of 59, I was contacted by a biological half sister. That was the very first contact with my biological family. I had been raised by a loving hard-working lower middle class family. Unfortunately my father was an alcoholic in his later years. By the time I was contacted by my biological sister, both my adoptive parents were deceased and my biological mother had died 2 years before.

              I find that I am the oldest living of 9 children (an older sister died following birth). I have met four of my siblings and have been well received.

              My family upbringing was far better than that of my siblings. They were taken away by the state as my bio-mother was found to be an unfit mother. Of the nine children it is believed that only two had the same father and that is only speculation.

              Even with all of that I am attempting in all possible means to determine and locate my biological father. First of all I would like to have the medical history to pass on to my daughter and her children. Second I would just like to find out who I am biologically for better or for worse. I have no expectations either way.

              Like many in my position, time is going past very rapidly. If my bio-father is still alive he would be in his late 80's and getting older every day. So far I have no good leads. I have tested Y-DNA with nothing better than a 33/37. I have tested Family Finder with 2-3rd cousins. One has been confirmed to be on my bio-mother's side and the other is still a question.

              One of my bio-sisters has just tested Family Finder (a batch number has not yet been set) and that will possibly direct me towards my paternal side with matches that I have but my sister does not.

              It is a totally speculative game but far more scientific than just 10 years ago. My biggest regret is that my adoptive mother had paperwork identifying my biological parents. She showed it to my daughter, but held on to it until I decided to ask for it. I had always been told that she had no information, if I had known I would have asked. When my mother died, my adoptive sister cleaned out the house and threw the paperwork away without telling me. Either that or she is still hording the papers even after I asked her about them. She has always had a 'power-trip' mentality.

              So for all of those who are adopted and looking for answers, as I am, keep the faith as the technology increases and testees grow the answers will be forthcoming.
              Last edited by JPHutchins; 6 October 2011, 04:07 PM.


              • #8
                For those still looking and in position to cast a wider net, would also suggest 23andme with it's larger database.


                • #9
                  @JPHutchins - You mention 34/37 YDNA match. Assume no matches at Y67? Are there more than one 34/37 or 33/37 matches that at least suggest a surname for you? I see you've used ysearch. Have you also checked your YSTR values for matches at and SMGF?


                  • #10
                    The problem with 23andMe is that they do not provide names and in order to make contact you are limited in the number of requests at one time. The requests must go through 23andMe then to the other person. That person must decide to accept the contact request then submit that acceptance back through 23andMe. Most of the people testing through 23andMe are looking for medical results not necessarily genealogical results.

                    But they definitely have a larger database.


                    • #11
                      @JPHutchins: Would also suggest getting as many of your half siblings autosomal DNA tested as well (FF or 23andMe) as this will help phase your matches into paternal vs maternal. While both FF and 23andMe have several pros/cons, 23andme's larger database and family plan pricing (no subscription charge beyond 4 kits if in same account) may be more cost effective and effecient alternative if you end up getting more than 4 people tested.


                      • #12
                        Yes you mention the downside of 23andMe, but given majority of all matches will be too distant to really help you identify your father, I would spend my money where I had the higher odds (about 10x the odds) of finding a more recently related "cousin".

                        I've purchased multiple tests of each, including tests for my father-in-law who is in same boat with regard to identifying bio-dad. In his case I do have a most likely Y DNA surname. On the autosomal, still no eureka moment, but at present think I have gained more useful info and will be more likely to find success with 23andMe. If you haven't done both, then you're just quoting the pro-FTDNA band wagon and no real basis of comparison.

                        If a person can afford both, I would suggest both.

                        Meanwhile, if anyone wants to suggest Gedmatch since they can compare both, you have two problems. First, the total of the databases represented is a very small fraction. Second, many of the matches found are using lower thresholds which most likely not provide very much useful info in terms of helping you locate recent relatives. While Gedmatch may have some useful tools and be helpful to many of it's users, it is a very poor substitute for testing with both companies.


                        • #13
                          I'm not an adoptee but I grew up without a father and without relatives. My father's side is estranged from me because they are just evil, my mother's father's side (his sisters, mainly Esther and Meredith, who I call the "vulture sisters") didn't like my maternal grandmother (and they didn't like their other sister-in-law either), because she was Southern, so they were estranged, and my maternal grandmother was estranged from her family (most of the time. She married a Northerner.). But I have gathered as much genealogical info as I could.
                          I think all adoptees should try 23andme too. They have a larger database. I tested with 23andme in Autumn 2009. I had 584 Relative Finder matches this morning and hours later, this afternoon, it went up to 589. That is from 7 cM and up.
                          The 5 cM through 7 cM are included in 23andme's Ancestry Finder csv list and I have 670 matches there.

                          About matching siblings of another family...I match 3 people who turned out to be full siblings. All three matched me at one chromosome but I have a second segment on a different chromosome with one of the siblings. I recently matched someone I invited from Ancestry Finder (a 6.9 cM) who turned out to be a known first cousin and of the person I have 2 segments with...and the match is thru that extra segment. So a person may share different segments with full siblings. Two segments may be one from one parent and one from the other or both from just one parent.
                          Last edited by ~Elizabeth~; 7 October 2011, 02:33 PM.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ~Elizabeth~ View Post
                            I think all adoptees should try 23andme too. They have a larger database. I tested with 23andme in Autumn 2009. I had 584 Relative Finder matches this morning and hours later, this afternoon, it went up to 589. That is from 7 cM and up.
                            Okay, Elizabeth I appreciate that 23andMe has a larger database, which would likely mean more matches. But, of the 589 matches that you have, how many have you tried to contact. And of those that you tried to contact, how many have accepted your invitation.

                            Having many matches that are annonymous and/or refuse to accept your inquiries and refuse to provide information is worse than not having the matches.

                            I wish that 23andMe were more open as far as communicating with matches, then it would certainly be worth testing there. But the fact remains that the high percentage of persons testing with 23andMe do so for medical information, not for genealogical matches.


                            • #15
                              @jphutchins: re: "then it would certainly be worth testing there".

                              Even with the communication issues, still worth testing for anyone actually trying to figure out an unidentified parent or grandparent due to adoption or other reasons. Sounds like you haven't which is why you didn't respond to my earlier inquiry.

                              Bottom line is that for the 10x more matches, you should eventually be able to get in contact with 40-50% of those, so still 4x to 5x more useful than FF. Granted some of those are also adopted or have info documented back far enough to figure out connection, just like FF.

                              For those who think you "know" all your ancestors and have nothing "hidden" to sort out, then perhaps maybe just better to stay within your comfort zone with FTDNA.

                              I've personally found a previously unknown 2nd cousin to my mother and an unknown 3rd cousin to my father using 23andMe. Can't say the same about FF. Actual success rate to tracking down more distant relations not much better for one or the other and pretty much up to luck of the draw with regard to whom you match in the database. Again bottom line is larger database means more likely to find more recent relatives. Obviously no guarantee and results may vary.

                              Have also seen many more "previously unknown half sibling" type stories over on 23andme. So if you can deal with the short comings and the less than desireable 5 per day relative finder (RF) request requirements, still well worth it for those actually looking for possible answers.