Closing the gap and using historical context in our adoptee search for birth family

When it comes to using the non-identifying information we have to locate birth family every attempt is made to align it with the genealogy that is performed based off of our autosomal DNA related cousins. In one of my cases it has gotten to a point where no one in a tree of over fourteen hundred people match up with the clues on the maternal side.

Usually the weakest amount of information from the non-identifying information is on the paternal side; birth father. After all the parents and siblings in a tree only suggest a link to the paternal side it is time to examine the other genetically linked cousins who should be close enough to appear on this tree, but do not. This suggests they belong to the other side; in this case the birth mother.

With this adoptee they have one third cousin and about four distant cousins that place them in a family where the birth father is likely located. They also have a second cousin, but placed in a totally separate family tree that cannot connect to the one with the third cousin in it.

So, in this case, it is time to set aside the third cousin paternal side, and move back to the second cousin tree that may belong to the maternal side of the adoptees family. It has not been exhausted of leads and geographically there are several families that come close to the region the adoptee’s birth mother was born and gave birth to our adoptee. It is certainly not unreasonable to see someone move across the country and land in the state the adoptee was born in. However, in this case our birth parents’ families were geographically separated.

This is rather unusual as people typically meet having lived close to one another to begin with. Yet as the story goes with the non-identifying information, the birth mother was born in the south and gave birth to this adoptee several states above her initial starting point. This happens to align with the family on the genetically related second cousins’ family tree.

It is not unusual for a birth to occur a few states away from where we likely might find a biological relatives home state. However, this birth mother was not sent away by her parents to give birth far away from her home community, she was in her thirties when she gave birth to our adoptee. It also happens to align at the tail end of World War II; when many people were displaced all over the country and abroad.

Historical context is important in following genealogical families being displaced geographically. It may even be the catalyst to start checking into references related to armed services, recruitment, or other military actions that would change our individual’s home location radically.

Many of the cases I am working on are maturing to a point where distinctions like the above scenario occur. Mind you, not all are this far along. Some have radically different hurdles. In at least half of the cases I am working on it has come to a point where a DNA test should be performed to quickly validate the proximity of our adoptees birth parents, or slam the door shut on that side of the family. Without the evidence to support triangulating a common ancestor it sometimes becomes necessary to get close and just reach out to living family members to give us a clue as to whether or not we are close genetically. Once a family tree matures enough in size having two close cousins can make a big difference as to our proximity to the birth parent.

In cases like the one described above I would only suggest another autosomal DNA test with a living relative if I can clearly draw a line back to the known relative we already have. This way they both should be related, but based on distant relatives also aligning through genetic genealogy can we tell if our birth parents are close to one side or the other of a tree. In short the two cousins can help us establish a most recent common ancestor to focus on.