I hope all is well with everyone today. I know that it’s been a little since my last blog post. It’s been such a super crazy time for me with work and my daily routine, so I apologize for not writing in here sooner. I didn’t want to post another update so close to my last one, so that I can continue to sort out my thoughts and emotions carefully, because more has happened since. However, before I dive into any of that, I’d like to go back and do a re-cap, especially if this is your first time checking out my blog.
As the title suggests, the journey to discovering my genealogical and paternal roots has been lengthy (though for the full story in all its wondrous details, please check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in their respective highlighted links). I have spent the first 30 years, 9 months, and 9 days of my life not knowing the identity of my biological father and paternal familial roots. As spoken about in Part 3 I am close with my maternal family and my birth certificate father, but not knowing my paternal biological family for so many years drove me absolutely crazy. It was a constant battle of going back and forth between determination, persistence, hope, doubt, defeat, and hopelessness. However, this all changed on Friday February 22nd, 2019.
Friday February 22nd, 2019 was the day that I received a message in my inbox on Ancestry.com. The user was unfamiliar to me, as I had gone through the entire genetic database that I had of genetic matches, and I didn’t even think to consider the fact that there were a few more matches that popped up on my list since I had last checked it back in 2018 around the holidays. Honestly, I didn’t feel the need to, because I didn’t really understand how the genetic matching worked, since everyone under my understanding seemed to be connected one way or another on my maternal side. So, rather than looking at the actual genetic match list, I just opened up the message in my inbox, and in this message read the following statement:
Possible 1st Cousin?
“Hello. It looks like we have a very likely first cousin match! I would love to connect with you and explore this possibility!”
Well, now, I can certainly attest to how interested I was in this message. Of course I had responded with the following message:
I hope this message finds you well. I would love to explore this possibility with you. I’ve been trying to find people on my paternal side of the family, because I don’t know who he is, but it’s hard to separate all of the genetic matches from maternal lineage to paternal.”
Then I gave a brief introduction to myself as well and anxiously awaited her response. It wasn’t long before she had replied and explained that she might have thought we were possibly connected on her own paternal family’s side through one of her uncles. The conversation was cut short on Ancestry, because we then changed over to the Facebook Messenger platform in order to go into further details with our discussion. However, before switching over to Facebook, she invited me to peruse her family tree for relatives of which we had in common. So before I turned to Facebook Messenger, I took a peek into her family tree on Ancestry, but could not truly match any of her family surnames (maiden or married) to my own maternal lineage family names.
Before jumping the gun, I had decided I would actually ask my “first cousin” whether she recognized any of my maternal lineage family names, because I felt I had to rule them out first, and didn’t want to get my hopes up. When I had given her all my known maternal family names, she had said she did not recognize any of them, which instantly frustrated me, but then she started asking me if my mother was once in the Navy. Right type of employment (military), but wrong branch (USAF, not Navy), which I genuinely find amusing even to this day! So we chatted for a bit about relatives in the military, and when she said she would speak further with her mother about any other male relatives who might’ve been in the Air Force branch of the military, I thought it would be nice for her to have the photo to show her mother—the photo of the man I thought was my biological father, and I told her:
“This is the man who I am pretty sure is my biological father.”
And when I told her of the name I had for the man in the above photo, as well as three last known locations (where my birth certificate father told me this man was from, where all three of my parents were stationed during basic training/tech school, and of course the third location being where my mother and birth certificate father served the rest of their time in the military). I couldn’t be sure of any location, so I gave her all three locations, just to cover my bases. You ready for the kicker (you sure?)? I know I almost fell over when I read the following response from her … in all caps, might I add:
“THIS IS MY HALF BROTHER.”
It’s safe to say that I was absolutely stunned. After all this time, after ALL THIS TIME, I ACTUALLY FOUND someone RELATED to him … to this man in the photo above! And she came up as my “possible first cousin” on Ancestry? Yet she was saying he’s her half-brother? There was no way she was my cousin. No way, no how! The woman I had been talking to that afternoon on February 22nd, 2019 was my paternal aunt! I was stunned, shocked, and floored, and raced as fast as I could into the living room without tripping … and then I had announced the news to my maternal grandmother that I thought I found a paternal aunt!
I could hardly believe that after 16 long, arduous years of trying to find my biological father, my search was now over. But was it over though? Truly? For real? Well, my “possible first cousin” turned aunt certainly confirmed it for me and quickly gave me his real name!
Before I go further, I’d like to point out that just 24 hours before my first contact with her (meaning Thursday February 21st, 2019), I had created a video purely out of fun with the above listed photo and one of my own photos from when I was in 7th or 8th grade. This photo of me was the photo I’ve used to compare to the man above ever since I got his photo in the mail a couple years ago, because I made the same facial expression as he did in his photo that it was uncanny! There is some sound to the video I’m about to share with you I made, so you are welcome to play it with my commentary on the video or not. I just had to share the video here. Once I had made this video, I was sure he was my biological father, but his name … oh, his name was spelled so wrong on the back of the photo, which made it impossible for me to find him … but my aunt (his sister) found me instead (and corrected me with the spelling of his true name)! I’m going to let you watch the video now, and then I will talk a bit more about it (I apologize in advance that it looks like it’s a sideways video, but it’s absolutely not, and works its way side right, I promise!).
Isn’t this pretty awesome!? I had posted this to my personal, private Facebook page that I have for connecting with my family and friends, so this video was initially meant for their eyes only (and I’ll have you know that a lot of them agreed that this man was 100% biologically related to me). However, ever since I learned the true identity of my biological father, I knew I had to share this video publicly at some point. The part that I find absolutely amazing is the fact that I had made this video just 24 hours before my aunt contacted me on Ancestry! I’m a believer in God, and this has God’s amazing work written all over it! It was like God was telling me that since I have confirmed for myself, and seen for myself that I am biologically related to this man, then it’s time to open some doors!
Did I say doors? Oh, you sure heard me right on that! On the same date that I first got contact with my paternal aunt, only a few hours later, she had asked me for permission for her brother … my father … to contact me. I was totally stunned at first, because I truly did not know if this was going to be a good thing or a bad thing. Well, sadly, I must hit the hay, as I have an early start tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait until the weekend to find out how that first contact went!
Thanks for sticking around. I look forward to sharing more with you in the next few days. Perhaps Friday? 😉 Either way, ciao for now, and I hope you and yours enjoy the rest of your day/night. May peace, love, and joy be with you all in all you do, no matter where you are.