What Have I Got To Lose?

by Stacey Jaros

One of the effects of my conversation with Julie is that it gave me a 'what have I got to lose' attitude with regard to reaching out to DNA matches. As soon as I settled back into my daily routine after my Labor Day weekend getaway I started reaching out to the unknown matches on Ancestry. As I mentioned on the CutOff Genes podcast one of the "Close Matches" used a pseudonym. Setting that one aside for the time, I searched on social media for the apparent real names. On facebook I found one who I mentioned briefly on the podcast, JL, that I thought might not want to connect. On September 7, 2018, I figured, 'what's the worst that could happen?' and sent her a message on facebook.

Much to my surprise she hadn't seen the message I initially sent her through Ancestry. She was excited to hear from me, and learn about M and J. As I suspected from her similar age, she is another half-sibling from the same donor. I was so excited to introduce M, J, and JL to one another. Even though JL lived outside of California we all planned to meet ASAP.

I had suspected JL's daughter was one of the matches in the "1st Cousin" category on Ancestry. The category includes centimorgans which would be consistent with 1st cousins or niblings (a niece or nephew; a child of a sibling).

Green Chart.png

When I spoke with JL she confirmed her daughter was not one of those matches. That quashed one of my theories and raised more questions. Being wrong is a bummer, but I am more in favor of the truth than easy answers.

The weekend following our long weekend away, September 8, Jeff & I went to San Francisco to meet up with a distant relative of mine whom I met via 23andMe and AncestryDNA. S is an adopted person who was looking for biological family at the time. S had done quite a bit of research and was much more knowledgeable of genealogical research methods.

Though we are distant relatives and didn't know how we were related when we met, we do have some similarities. We are similar in age, both moved to San Francisco around the same time, and have family ties to Chicago (that's where my Dad, who raised me, was born). It was shocking to me when S said I was the first biological relative she'd met. It felt like I was representing an entire gene pool of people I didn't even know. Fortunately S and I, and our partners, enjoyed a lovely afternoon together getting to know one another.

After our meeting S generously shared some of her genealogical research with me. At the time, I was taking an online class related to my career, and really needed to be working on a big project for that. I briefly glanced at S's research materials, which were diagrams of a lot of relations with scattered connections, reminiscent of a detective team's red string methodology searching for a serial killer. I jokingly referred to it as a 'serial kinship chart.'

As I closed the browser window my eyes fell on a name. The name was the pseudonym appearing in my 'Close Matches' on Ancestry. Beside the pseudonym was what appeared to be a real name, B. As mentioned in my CutOff Genes episode, and a previous chapter of my story here, I believed that 'Close Match' individual to be another half-sibling.

Reader, do you think after the window closed I proceeded to work on my class assignment? I tell you now that would not have been possible.