When I began my birth family search in 1981, I had no idea that it would take nearly three decades to complete.
Finding the identity of my birth mother seemed difficult at the time. But it required less than a year to discover her name and learn about her death in a Jeep accident.
That initial phase of my birth family search did uncover my first biological relatives—a half brother, an aunt, and some cousins.
But none of them knew the identity of my birth father. And Michigan law prevented me from seeing my adoption file.
My First Use of DNA Testing
In 1989 the judge responsible for my file allowed a confidential intermediary to see who my mother named as my birth father. The intermediary located the man and I got to meet him. But a DNA paternity test proved he could not be my father.
Who was my real birth father? Was my birth mother mistaken when she named the wrong man? Or was she covering up another relationship? Additional research could not answer these questions conclusively.
A Second Type of DNA Testing
Late in 2006 I heard about Family Tree DNA, a company that applies DNA testing to genealogy. I realized that their Y-DNA test might reveal my birth father’s surname. So I took the test. In 2007 those DNA test results—combined with some old information—led me to my birth father’s family.
A Third Type of DNA Testing
My suspected birth father had been dead for some time. But I learned he had four brothers who also lived in the area when my mother got pregnant. Although he was the only one known to have dated my mother, I wanted to be sure I had the right man this time.
So I used a DNA Sibling Test to compare myself to his son and a son from each of the other brothers.
I did not know it at the time, but this old-technology test implicated the WRONG MAN as my birth father.
Read About My Search in the Wall Street Journal
In 2009 a science reporter from The Wall Street Journal contacted me through my web site. Since I want other adoptees and genealogists to benefit from what I learned, I agreed to an interview. You can read his Story in Wall Street Journal.
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A Fourth Type of DNA Testing
In late 2011 and early 2012, I happened to test some of my new paternal relatives on two new-technology autosomal DNA tests. Instead of testing just 16 markers and estimating the probability of a relationship, these tests compare 700,000 markers and actually MEASURE the amount of DNA two people have in common.
Testing a presumed cousin on 23andMe revealed that he was actually a half sibling.
Then testing my presumed sister on Family Finder proved that she was actually a first cousin.
My birth family search was finally complete, as I now knew which brother had been my biological father. But this meant that the earlier article in the Wall Street Journal had the wrong ending.
Read My Entire Story in a New Book
I have written a book that tells my whole story with all the details and all the highs and lows. In it, I describe in detail every DNA test that I took to finally learn the truth about my biological roots.
Whether you’re searching for your own roots or just craving a darn good read, this is a book you will likely devour in one sitting…and wholeheartedly recommend to others.