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  • New Cousin

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on December 21st, 2020 (All posts by )

    Finding new relatives that no one in the family talked about or perhaps even knew about is one of the risks/joys/adventures of having a DNA test done.  I have a new relative, just a little younger than me, positioned somewhere between first and second cousin. She was a closed adoption in Ellsworth, ME in 1958.  Only two other listed relatives on her paternal side, both quite remote. She messaged me on Ancestry.com.  People are quite tentative about this, with good reason.  Folks don’t want to hear about extra babies born who were hushed up at the time.  I think I have mentioned before that we have that situation with our adopted nephew/fifth son.  His mother was a closed adoption in 1967.  He has a very close DNA match that we have narrowed down to be his grandmother’s sister. We asked her for details and received the reply that no women in her family had a baby in Cambridge in that year.  They were all in California the whole time.  So we still don’t know, though another match on that line might tell us which girl went away to “summer camp” that year.

    It is uncomfortable.  It became clear that this new cousin must be a child of one of my grandparents or one of their siblings. On that side, my grandfather had four brothers and my grandmother was an only child, so I assumed at first that that side was more likely.  But the centiMorgans of the common relatives did not come close to matching.  We concluded at first that my grandfather must also be her grandfather, with an unknown son born around 1920 or so.  As Ellsworth is across the bay from Nova Scotia, that made some sense.  So…Grampa…he is long gone, died in 1983.  I knew him a bit and it did bother me just a touch.  I worried it might bother some other people more.  What to do?  What to say? How do you ask such questions without giving away the suspicions?

    The woman is working with Search Angels, which helps people locate birth parents.  I spoke with them trying to narrow the places and dates, but it still didn’t add up.  I don’t have a huge number of DNA matches on that side but I have some, but she was not showing up as connected to them at all.  Which is impossible. We cast about until the person (from San Diego) mentioned that it must still be him because he had lived in Westford and her distant connections were from Leominster (he mispronounced it) which was so nearby. Ah, that was the key.  It wasn’t my grandfather from Nova Scotia at all, it was his first wife, from Leominster, whose family had been in that area (Fitchburg, Shirley) for generations. She died youngish in 1952 and I never knew her. I actually had a hard time talking him into that, but it made sense to me. So she had a child before marrying Carl, who was a very silent person.  I never heard him mention her.  Or much of anything else, actually. I don’t know if he even knew about the boy.

    That boy in turn was the father of my cousin, born two states and 300 miles away, so she has two mysteries to solve to place herself in the genetic world accurately. I hope to meet her after all this avoidance of contact is over. My father had a half-brother he never knew about, and I have a half-first-cousin I just learned about, and it is time to close the circle.

     

    19 Responses to “New Cousin”

    1. Mike K Says:

      We had a similar experience several years ago. My daughter gave me a DNA thing for Christmas and we now have a family tree. She got a call from a guy in LA who had found her as a cousin. It turns out my wife’s sister gave up a baby for adoption 50 years ago. It was this guy. He is successful, a Hollywood producer of some sort, and just wanted to find his birth mother. After some agonizing, the birth mother has an incurable condition involving dementia, we decided to put them in contact. He went up to Oregon, where she lives, and they spent some time together. That was it. She is financially comfortable but ill in a care facility. He was satisfied and everybody seemed content.

      About 30 years ago, there was a story about a woman who was seeking her sperm donor “father.” USC medical school had a program where medical students donated sperm for artificial insemination. Not me, fortunately. Anyway, this woman was an angry social worker who was trying to find the sperm donor so she could demand he support her. A nightmare scenario, of course. It does make me think for a moment of Michelle Obama. Imagine her after you.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks for sharing.

    3. Kirk Says:

      I have my suspicions that this whole genetic testing “thing” is going to prove to be the most socially significant development of this era. The one that sociologists are going to look at and point out that this was “the moment everything changed”, because it is now no longer possible for women to hide who the father actually is.

      That’s been a factor for longer than many of us realize–Paternity fraud. There’s a friend of mine who was using the data from a fairly large hospital located in a well-to-do suburb of San Francisco to research things, and in the course of it all, they uncovered the little fact that a huge percentage of the births recorded had genetically impossible combinations of blood types, indicating that a considerable number of the recorded fathers could not possibly have been the actual genetic parent of the kids.

      Hospital admin shut that whole thing down in a hurry, because “reasons”. Numbers were something close to a full third of the database that had discrepancies…

      As well, there’s a really good set of questions to be asked about genealogy: Sure, there’s the paper record saying that so-and-so begat so-and-so, but what the hell were the actual facts? How many cases of informal and unrecorded adoption were there, back in the day, and how many cases where the mothers were less than honest with the fathers…? You may have a slot in the family bible that you think you fill, but until someone goes back and actually manages to dig up the bodies in all the graveyards and then does a bit of verification, how would anyone really know?

      My guess is that a huge swathe of a lot of family histories are entirely fictive, especially in cases where there was a lot of wealth in question.

      TL; DR: Most of the genealogies are essentially worthless, because people. And, random boinking that went on…

    4. TRX Says:

      > closed adoption … Search Angels, which helps people locate birth parents.

      Someone went through the trouble to get a court order to hide that information, and now groups are doing it anyway.

      The *intent* of the court order was that nobody should know. In that day, it meant sealing paper records. That the same information is now available by different means… well, there might have been good reasons someone went through the trouble of going to court.

    5. Erisguy Says:

      Paternity tests should be required for every birth.

    6. Mike K Says:

      I recall reading somewhere that 25% of paternity tests in child support cases show the father is not the one being sued. I have also read that judges in family court are ignoring this evidence.

    7. Kirk Says:

      “I recall reading somewhere that 25% of paternity tests in child support cases show the father is not the one being sued. I have also read that judges in family court are ignoring this evidence.”

      This fact, with many others, just goes to prove that all the bleating from the usual suspects about “patriarchy” is so much specious bullshit. We don’t live in a patriarchy; what we live in is a bastardized half-ass creature that I can’t even think of a good term to describe, other than to outline that it’s essentially a sex-role kakistriarchy wherein the worst elements of the female gender have warped law, custom, and most of culture over to benefit themselves over males in general–And, the majority of the males have indulgently given them their way, rather than stand up for what is fair and right.

      Most of the women I worked with in the Army were great soldiers, decent human beings, and hard damn workers within the limits of their biological limitations. The real problem with women in the military is not the women themselves, but the senior male leadership and the civilian activists who refuse to recognize reality and make common-sense provisions for dealing with it–And, it’s pretty much the same in civil life. All women need to do is make with the tears and the wounded gazelle thing, and they can quite literally get away with murder, ‘cos ain’t nobody gonna hold ’em accountable, the little darlings. They just need to simper, whine, and make goo-goo eyes at the older males in the room, whose hearts will melt, and away we go with the “indulgent daddy syndrome” who can’t say no or discipline his wayward daughter.

      It sure as hell isn’t all women, but there are enough of them that this behavior has had a tremendous warping effect on our culture and the relations between the sexes. Thus, the so-called “marriage strike”. You have to be either a wildly optimistic fool to marry, these days, or you have to be a complete idiot that can’t learn from observation of what others experience around you.

      Good luck figuring out the impact on the culture in the future, because I sure as hell can’t. There’s a trainwreck coming, up ahead, and it’s partially going to happen because genetic testing is going to rip the bandaid off, and reveal how many men have been played for suckers by their “beloved”.

    8. Mike K Says:

      Kirk, I agree that the whole feminist thing has badly damaged the military. The two watch officers on the McCain bridge at the time of the fatal collision were females who were not speaking to each other.

      This letter from a former West Point instructor, points out that female cadets are defying the Honor Code.

      First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else. The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other. The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline.

      The letter goes on to describe several incidents in which the cadet is “she.”

    9. Kirk Says:

      Mike, as I said… The root of the problem isn’t the women, per se. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do, and conform to the dimensions of the container they find themselves in… Just like men.

      The real problem is the senior leadership, which refuses to treat women “just like the men”. There are always “special accommodations” made for them, excuses made for substandard conduct, and an utter lack of any willingness to hold them accountable for the consequences of their decisions. You can imagine how that atmosphere flows out into the forces as these young women get commissioned and rise through the ranks.

      Where we really f-ed up as a culture wasn’t in changing the roles of men and women, it was the indulgent and essentially irresponsible way we went about doing it. The women who go into the military are not treated as though they are soldiers; they’re treated as little girls playacting in their daddies clothes. Get pregnant, and not due to rape? Fine; we’ll just let you out of your contract, and screw over every soldier in the unit who now has to pull the slack for the absent slut on the upcoming deployment. They won’t even go after her for the money spent on training her, or what it’s going to cost to replace her sorry ass at the last minute.

      Let’s not even begin to bring up all the side-effects and second-/third-order effects brought about by the little sluts bringing sex into the workplace as a tool of manipulation, either.

      All of it could be managed by mature, thoughtful adults running the show. But, we don’t have any of those–They’re all just about as immature and easily finger-wrapped as the little girls they love to indulge. If you ever meet a senior officer or NCO that’s willing to actually hold the little sluts to standards, I’ll guarantee you this much: They won’t be male. There also won’t be too many of them around, either, because that category of woman generally finds somewhere else to be effective around, rather than the senior ranks of the military.

      Again, it is by no means “all the women”, or even a majority of them; as with everything, 90% of the problems come from 10%. But, boy howdy, do they manage to create problems for the rest of the force, simply because of the side-effects of their presence there.

      It’s like with cops; nobody wants to admit that there’s an elephant in the room with regards to the rise in cops using their guns on civilians, and that elephant is made of cute little cops playacting as policemen. Because they’re there, the entirety of the use-of-force policy has to be rewritten and made consistent, such that cops really aren’t expected to go hands-on or be able to prevail physically in a fight. Which leads to lethal force being employed a hell of a lot more than it once was, and creates the fodder for all this “defund the police” BS. I guarantee you that if we still had the policies wherein you had to be over six feet tall and 180lbs in size in order to be a policeman, you’d see a hell of a lot less use of lethal force, and a lot more “hands-on” work being done.

      Consequences. The idiot/activist never thinks through the follow-on effects stemming from their brilliant little ideas, and refuse to recognize the reality of things. Such as, ohbytheway, we are a sexually-dimorphic species with considerable differences in size and strength between the sexes.

    10. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Strange things do happen. One of my nieces got into the ancestry thing and found an uncle. My mother-in-law gave up a child for adoption that she did not tell her later husband and all her kids about. By chance, he lives where my son and his family have been living for a few years [he started and ran a brewery under contract and will be coming home in a few months]. So we met him and his wife when we visited my son. They are good people and we consider them family.

      That is usually enough of an anomaly for one family. Not for us. I am Chinese and primarily German [but due to events I found out I have more than a bit of Welsh, and Cornish, and English]. I was raised by my Chinese father [thankfully] because when my parents got divorced a racist Kansas judge figured it wasn’t right for her to be raisin’ one of ‘those kind’. I had little contact with her and her family after the divorce and from what I had been told I thought her family immigrated from Germany sometime between the Civil War and the 1880’s.

      Said niece kept on digging. One of the most thoroughly researched group genealogies are those of the Mayflower. Mary Chilton was the first European woman to set foot in Massachusetts, jumping off the boat to Plymouth Rock at age 13. Her genealogy is researched to a fair-thee-well and confirmed with birth records both civil and religious. This crazy Chinaman is descended from the Mayflower colonists through her, and have an officer in the Continental Army, and a soldier killed in the war of 1812 in my lineage. Which shows that you can find anything if you look back at who begat who. I suspect that Mary Chilton never dreamed of having a Chinese [very distant] descendant. And I am sure my Chinese grandfather who sent his 12 year old son to America alone never thought there would be a connection to the Mayflower.

      Subotai Bahadur

    11. Jay Solo Says:

      I’ve done both Ancestry and 23 and Me tests. Sheer volume is a strength of the former. The latter features a pretty close relative who can’t exist in the straight up form of first cousin twice removed. She lives in a neighboring state, not that far away, in a place where there simply are no relatives. The trick is, you can have half-relatives that have the same common DNA as a more closely related relative in the traditional sense. For instance, a half grandniece. I have seen a picture and it’s no stretch to say she’s related. I already figured it, but turns out 23 & Me does place her on my father’s side. I have seen her sister’s picture and she could be my niece’s twin.

      Well, my father famously could not keep it in his pants. We always assumed he had some oops out there, maybe even known to him. She is the right age to be a great granddaughter to him by another woman when he was young (he was 21 when my parents married, and it could even predate that, but more likely was after). She hasn’t responded to a message asking more about how we could be connected. He doesn’t know about this, and it was Ancestry I was offering to pay for, but he was vehement about not doing the test. Most likely just doesn’t see the point, but if he knows or suspects this kind of situation exists, he could be trying to avoid it being noticed. But they don’t need him for her to show up. Just to clarify things. There may be some other oops, or other explanation, but my theory actually strikes me as the most plausible.

      My youngest brother is a half brother, known father, who fled when my mother go pregnant. My parents were separated but divorce wasn’t final, so he was legally my father’s and, if not for my stepmother later, my father would have treated him accordingly. I was picturing trying to talk my brother into doing the Ancestry test. This would give me added insight into the ancestral makeup from my mother versus father (reason I wanted my father to take it, since the results were so intriguing based on my, my mother, my sister, my daughter, and my brother on the other service). But it would also open for him a can of worms, with people saying “who are YOU?” from his father’s side. I suspect nobody knows he exists.

    12. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Kirk: “The women who go into the military are not treated as though they are soldiers; they’re treated as little girls playacting in their daddies clothes.”

      It is said that the fearsome Amazons got their name from a Greek term noting that the women cut off their right breasts (assuming they were right-handed). A flopping breast could get in the way of their archery, and so it had to go. Now that was commitment! No wonder those women were excellent fighters.

      Chinese military videos are interesting. Lots of videos of cute female soldiers dancing in the office, and such like. But the Chinese army is there to fight. Women are a key element in this video celebrating Army Day, but see how many female soldiers you can spot.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToxdTlqUvtw

    13. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      “Non-paternity events” are as low as 1% in some cultures, as high as 10% in others, with an average of about 3%. At least, those are the numbers I recall from twenty years ago when I was reading up on it. They did have paternity tests back then, even though the originals were more “rule out” rather than “rule in.” One would expect the numbers to be pretty high when people are having court cases about it. The other side of the coin about all the ancestry reveals of new relatives is how many come back with no surprises. Even though I have that one surprise, I don’t seem to have any others among the many DNA matches. One document says my grandmother’s marriage was her second – though that leads to other questions as to why custody did not go to her and how that marriage ended. We may learn that now that we have some idea what to look for.

      There were homes for unwed mothers in the old days, but they weren’t on every corner.

      The historian David Hackett Fischer had an interesting proxy for general sexual rule observance by measuring the percentage of first children born in less than nine months after the wedding. While there are certainly premature first children on the one hand and people whose straying from the rule is not picked up by that statistic, it does provide a picture of the culture in general, even if not reliable for any single case. The 17th C New England Puritans had ridiculously low numbers.

    14. Mike K Says:

      Get pregnant, and not due to rape? Fine; we’ll just let you out of your contract, and screw over every soldier in the unit who now has to pull the slack for the absent slut on the upcoming deployment. They won’t even go after her for the money spent on training her, or what it’s going to cost to replace her sorry ass at the last minute.

      25% of the women deployed by the Navy in Gulf War I got pregnant.

    15. Brian Says:

      re: women in the military, this is going around twitter, and I just don’t recognize the military culture compared to what I grew up in in the 80s if this person is tolerated:
      https://mobile.twitter.com/evo_kositz/status/1341602814343176193

    16. Foxfier Says:

      That’s been a factor for longer than many of us realize–Paternity fraud. There’s a friend of mine who was using the data from a fairly large hospital located in a well-to-do suburb of San Francisco to research things, and in the course of it all, they uncovered the little fact that a huge percentage of the births recorded had genetically impossible combinations of blood types, indicating that a considerable number of the recorded fathers could not possibly have been the actual genetic parent of the kids.

      This was originally identified in schools. Is part of why they stopped doing “test your blood type” in high school science after a few murders hit the news.

      The other reason is that the tests were incredibly inaccurate when done to high school science class standards, but the primary reason is that we didn’t know as much as we thought we did about genetic inheritance.
      https://www2.palomar.edu/anthro/blood/Bombay_pheno.htm

      For extra fun, an unknown number of people have two blood types, naturally. It is common enough to be a known reason for discharge from the US military, as a hazard if blood is needed. It is unknown how many of those were hidden in “you must have done the test wrong the first time” statistics, because inaccurate blood tests are also a known thing even in clinics.

      *********

      The “25% of paternity tests show the husband is not the father” stat came from one lab– though it was a very large lab, from memory– and it was in cases where the father was declaring he didn’t need to support the child because he wasn’t the biological father, including those where they agreed that he wasn’t the father because she had the kid before they met. (Paternity fraud by faking that the child isn’t related to the bio-father is also a thing, known folks who did it for welfare boosts.) Makes the data a lot less useful.

      We also have known cases of natural birth mothers who genetically tested as not the child’s mother. (That became famous via the case where human chimeras were proven.) We don’t know how common that is, and given that DNA is both very personal and that people over-estimate the degree of certainty in what we think we know, I don’t see how to fix that issue.

      Those cases I’ve seen where an unrelated male was held to be the legal father, it was because he had acted as the legal father (responsibilities, and rights) up to that point, and in some cases the kid was born before he met the mother– a sort of common law adoption. In some of the cases, it’s because he lost the attempt to take the kid(s) away from the mother.

      *************

      I think genetics is incredibly fun, so this is a bit of a hobby. Even before I had five “genetically impossible,” blue-eyed children.
      (There’s more than one cause for blue eyes– most likely, my husband’s are the one that wasn’t studied when they identified the original hereditary patterns.)

    17. Foxfier Says:

      Oooh, found one that hovers about 25-30% exclusion– it’s the American Association of Blood Banks survey where they ask a bunch of labs for the results of all their paternity tests, AND it goes back years, AND it’s a decent sample size!

      Example:
      https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/2011_dhs-s_t_rapiddna_foia_records_3_2002_bloodbank_testing_report.pdf

      Most of the links to these are bad, but if you search for “ANNUAL REPORT SUMMARY FOR TESTING IN [year]” Prepared by the Parentage Testing Standards Program Unit you should be able to find a live link.

      They do note that it doesn’t include why the test was done, and point out that a major reason tests are done is to prove a male the female had relations with isn’t related. (Besides avoiding paternity fraud, this is done when giving the kid up for adoption, too.)

      There is rabbit-hole worthy amounts of information in the different types of DNA testing, and how they define if someone is probably/probably not related, etc.

    18. Foxfier Says:

      Obvious perspective bias here, but he’s got a lot more sources that were actually trying to identify infidelity rates:

      https://bridges.monash.edu/articles/journal_contribution/Rampant_misattributed_paternity_the_creation_of_an_urban_myth/4975400#:~:

      if the link doesn’t work, it’s
      People and Place, vol. 13, no. 2, 2005, page 1 RAMPANT MISATTRIBUTED PATERNITY: THE CREATION OF ANURBAN MYTH by Michael Gilding

    19. Mike K Says:

      It’s like with cops; nobody wants to admit that there’s an elephant in the room with regards to the rise in cops using their guns on civilians, and that elephant is made of cute little cops playacting as policemen. Because they’re there, the entirety of the use-of-force policy has to be rewritten and made consistent, such that cops really aren’t expected to go hands-on or be able to prevail physically in a fight. Which leads to lethal force being employed a hell of a lot more than it once was, and creates the fodder for all this “defund the police” BS.

      This is the story of the Rodney King case. King was stopped by Melanie Singer, a female CHP officer. He was not obeying her orders and she was ready to shoot him when the LAPD cops arrived. He was subdued by non-lethal force but the infamous video made it look bad so the cops were charged. They were acquitted by a local jury but the Clinton DOJ subjected them to double jeopardy by charging them with “civil rights” offenses. The trial was held in downtown LA to get then “right” jury and they were convicted. It was a gross miscarriage of justice but we have seen worse since. Melanie Singer testified for the prosecution twice and then retired on stress disability. I sent money to Stacey Koon’s family while he was in prison. He saved King’s life and was rewarded with prison.