Lifestyle

23andMe and Michael

On February 9, 2018 I became a little sister. Actually a little half-sister…. or is that a half-little sister? It feels surreal.

As I’ve written in previous posts, I was adopted as an infant. It happened in New York which is a closed record state. That means adoption records and original birth certificates aren’t released under any circumstance. The agency that handled my adoption was Angel Guardian Home in Brooklyn.

My parents made no secret of it and kept some of the related paperwork in a nightstand, free for me to look through. That’s where I found the court order changing the name that was given to me at birth, Geraldine M***. They even made the adoption process sound like shopping for melons. For years I imagined them browsing at a market of unwanted babies. After poking and sniffing for freshness they picked me to take home.

I often wondered who was my birth mother and why she gave me up…

Fast forward to 2003 when I found out about and obtained a report from Angel Guardian Home which provided as much information as they had without identifying any members of my biological family. That’s how I learned that she was young, single and her parents immigrated from Italy. She worked as a book keeper and told the agency my father was an accountant which I attributed as the reason why I excelled at math. She was also described as short and heavyset which likely explains my short, fat body.

There were 2 very surprising revelations… first was that she had called the agency to say she changed her mind and was on her way to get me but never showed up. Secondly, she had a 1-year-old son when I was born but he wasn’t put up for adoption. Instead, he was in foster care and she saw him on weekends. So, somewhere in the world, I had a brother but no clue how to find him…

Fast forward to a few months ago after my thyroid cancer diagnosis and surgery. Wondering what other health issues I could be passing onto my children and to their children, I asked for a 23andMe DNA kit for Christmas…

Fast forward to February 6 when I received notification that my DNA reports were ready… one of which is “DNA Relatives”. MUCH to my surprise this was on top of the list:

23andMe

WHAT?!!!!! Not only had I found my biological half-brother but he was looking for me!!! A couple of days later we were in contact, catching each other up on our lives and discovering all we have in common… like our love of indie movies, rock music, pitbulls and Stephen King. 

As it turned out, Michael had only known of me for the last 3 years after a chance comment prompted a family member to tell him about my existence. (I was a very well-kept secret.) That was when he registered his DNA on 23andMe but had lost hope of finding me as the years passed.

Michael told me about our mother who sadly died in 1983 of complications from diabetes. (Hmmmm, so that runs in the family as other members have it too.) She had no other children and he grew up thinking that he was an only child. He also told me about our maternal grandparents and put me in touch with an uncle (the youngest of our mother’s siblings and last survivor) who lives in NYC and sent me the photo on the left, below. Doesn’t she look familiar? (The photo on the right is of me at about the same age.)

IMG_20180309_133224

On Saturday, Michael and I will meet… our version of an episode of “Find My Family” or “Long Lost Family”. I’m not sure how I’ll react (cry? laugh? both?) but it will be wonderful to finally hug my big brother after 55 years.

Stay tuned for pictures… 

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4 thoughts on “23andMe and Michael

  1. Wow fascinating! I’ve just started my family tree journey,in my case there are many illegitimate and unacknowledged offspring to track.complicated by the fact that my Irish anscesters all liked to use only the same few names lol.i hope your meeting goes well and that you learn more about your mother and her situation.i commend your adoptive parents for staying so open with you and thereby giving you a starting point.

    Liked by 1 person

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