Thursday, May 24, 2018

Discovering Family

Now comes the tricky part. AncestryDNA has connected us and made a fairly convincing case that we are cousins. What do we do about that?
My first cousin and I made contact through the messaging option of AncestryDNA. Her first reaction was that I might be on her father's side, he had five sisters and several illegitimate children. I might be his child. Although AncestryDNA talks in terms of 1st cousins, that can be a half-sibling as well apparently. I said her mother's maiden name was part of my birth story. I mentioned my disease, her mother had a lot of polyps. Come to think of it, her mother had had a "breakdown", lived a while in Oklahoma City and in Wichita. There is enough there to look more closely.
While the family I grew up in would have been quite suspicious of someone claiming to share DNA with them, this new family seemed comfortable with it. They had some experience of finding relatives in the past. I know I grew up in a family that felt scarcity rather than abundance, not scarcity of resources, though that was the case, but scarcity in the sense of living abundantly or living life freely and fully. I get the impression that my newly found family lives more in abundance.
My cousin's sister (I guess that makes her my cousin, too) had died the previous week from complications of brain cancer, so much of our conversation came in the form of texts as she and her brother crossed Kansas, stayed in the Denver area, and continued to a small town on the western slope. We shared photographs. They see a resemblance to their mother. My cousin sent a poignant text, "This is surreal. I lose a sister one week and find a possible sister the next week." She's more comfortable with sister than I am. I'm feeling more comfortable with cousin. But then, she has experience with finding siblings and I have none. I have much to learn from this new family of mine.
We've made a few stabs at times to get together, but nothing has worked out yet. We are Facebook friends. Who knows what we will find? We share 1,872 centimorgans shared across 70 DNA segments, and AncestryDNA counts that as an almost 100% probability that we are closely related. What we do with this is uncertain, but I know I have blood relatives and that is a start. Will it matter if we are half sisters or cousins? We agree that we are at least new friends.
They are having a memorial for the cousin I will never know, the one who died the week before I found this new family, on June 2. There's irony they cannot know it their choice of date. I was adopted on June 2, 1951. My adopted family celebrated that more than my birth day.
This has been something of an emotional rollercoaster. One of my priest friends asked me, "Where is God in this?" I didn't have a good answer. I still don't. I have seen glimpses of God in the closeness and acceptance I detect in these new family members. They seem to be much more of a family than the one I grew up in. Perhaps I needed to find that is possible in people to whom I am related by blood. Perhaps is  that idea of living in abundance rather than scarcity. It is something I believe in, but do not always practice as I would like. Perhaps the next thing I need to do is search out God in this experience.

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