Theories, rumors and genetic genealogy

One of my more difficult cases involves an adoptee whose birth parents appear to be recent immigrants. I worked the genealogy as best as I could, but contact with this fourth cousin did not seem possible who’s matching DNA helped start this ancestry tree. About a month earlier we had sent out a general request to ask for them to help validate some of the information that was lacking on the documentation. Although, this cousin had not logged into for several months, so there was not a lot of hope that we would hear from them anytime soon.

Sometimes when I get a few hints that seem to substantiate a tree, I take a closer look at the family tree they are coming from. In this case our goal was to find someone with a specific name and be from Hungary in the early nineteen hundreds. Well the tree I opened up from the most recent hints were filled with hundreds of individuals from Eastern Europe. As I started to look through them I was very excited, as their seemed to be a good deal of documentation available.

Before I dug deeper into this tree to build out more from our own version, I searched for the birth mother by name and their birth year. To my amazement there was someone who fit the name, and was about six years off the date of birth. However, there seemed to be some documentation that moved her birthdate back and forth between the years we were looking for.

This was enough to at least try and build out the tree directly to this individual and then add a “potential adoptee” underneath them to create a relationship distance equal to the genealogy we were looking for from the genetically linked cousin the tree was based off of. So I felt we had a good chance of expanding the tree to living relatives and make contact with them to ask about information to either prove or disprove the non-identifying information we had.

The adoptee had been looking for over thirty years for clues and because of the recent immigration of the birth parents and names just not aligning, as they should, no substantive progress had been made in all that time. This was the first moment where things looked better than bleak. Contact was made and questions asked. The birth relative we had the adoptee contact was the biological son of this potential birth mother. He ended up being very cooperative and willing to help out. His mother had passed away many years ago, and she had been married previously to someone he never knew. She also had children he knew nothing about; maybe even relinquished to adoption.

This was proving to align all the stars with the non-identifying information we had. So the was an agreement to get a DNA test performed to see if we could scientifically prove a half-sibling relationship existed. The test was sent for, and taken. The next day the son sent in the results and the waiting game began.

Out of the blue the fourth cousin contacted us. I asked if the adoptee felt comfortable sharing access to the private unsearchable tree and we provided a link. This individual had family knowledge and information that had been passed down in the form of hand written documentation. It immediately suggested that our tree was incorrect. Specifically the area that led into this huge Hungarian family tree that led us to the potential birth mother. Well it was devastating news. However, the coincidences with all our non-identifying information and this potential half-sibling just felt like there was a chance that this cousin who stepped forward, may have been wrong.

I chalked it up as a fifty-fifty chance that we actually still had it right, despite the contradictions that seemed to step forward to ruin our chances. So we sat on the fence and waited for the DNA results. I took what information was provided and built a private tree based on what the fourth cousin had provided us, but again, leading directly into Hungary during a time period where there only seemed to be records based on baptisms, left us feeling hopeless again about our chances of building out the tree much further without a great deal more research.

Weeks went by on the results we were waiting for on the potential half-sibling. In fact it has been about seven weeks; far more than I am used to waiting for autosomal DNA test results. Apparently the test is now labeled as under review for quality control, which suggests to me that the test might be bad and require a retest to substantiate accurate results. Let’s just say waiting on a third party can erode feelings, once hopeful, now replaced by doubts and disenfranchisement.