Search goal: Find Caitlyn’s biological father
Before we start off, I would like to say that at the suggestion of a friend, I will now be using pseudonyms for the people and their families that I am helping to make the blog posts easier to read. In the future I will add a disclaimer to each entry that all names have been changed for privacy.
Caitlyn reached out to me in April for help finding her birth father. She was in communication with her birth mother, but her birth mother either did not know or did not want to share the birthfather’s name, so Caitlyn took an Ancestry test in hopes of finding out for herself. She also had some non identifying information to work with, which provided us with an estimated age as well as the number of siblings her birthfather had.
Caitlyn added me as a collaborator to her Ancestry matches (as is customary for search angels like myself. Love this feature on Ancestry!) and she had a lot of paternal matches which was great. As I started to put together a mirror tree (a mirror tree is a family tree that places all the DNA matches to see how they fit together) I noticed the majority of the matches were part of a very large French Canadian family. Now this family had two prominent last names that I kept seeing over and over- cousins marrying cousins, relatives marrying relatives, which is not uncommon for families in Quebec or Ontario at the time frame we were looking at. Many times the wife would not have to change her last name because it was the same last name as her husband.
I realized I had my work cut out for me and that this was going to be a challenge! I had identified the common ancestral couple and started to work my way down from there, but there were well over 200 descendants. Sometimes I would end up at the same branch of the family twice because of a relative marrying a relative. I soon came up with a way to mark my work- I put a X symbol as the picture of any male in this family that could not be the birthfather or anyone whose descendants could not be the birthfather. Granted we had limited information and I was basing it solely off of the 6 siblings and approximate birth year- anyone who didn’t fit this criteria would get an X.
As I did this work, and poured over the matches some more, I discovered a group of matches that were related, but not through this large family that I had been sifting through. I started to make a mirror tree of these matches, and discovered that a man from this family had married a woman from the large family- whose father and sons I had not yet eliminated.
However, this woman had eight children, which did not fit the non identifying information. I was disheartened and felt like I was at a dead end. I was sure it was someone from this family. Then I looked closer and realized that only 6 siblings would have been alive when Caitlyn was born- two of the siblings had died several years before. Perhaps Caitlyn’s birth mother did not know of these two siblings, and thought there had been only six?
I relayed this information to Caitlyn, who agreed we should look into these siblings some more. There were five brothers that had been alive when Caitlyn was born, though one had since passed and was determined to be too old to be Caitlyn’s birth father. However, he had a son that Caitlyn reached out to on Facebook in an attempt to get more information. Luckily he was very receptive and helpful and was able to connect Caitlyn to the right people to get some more information about the four living brothers. In the meantime, Caitlyn’s birth mother confirmed she had known one of the possible birth fathers, adding fuel to our fire.
Another brother was eliminated due to not living in the area at the time, leaving us with three possible brothers. Caitlyn and I were getting pretty confident we knew which one it could be, but needed some DNA proof to be absolutely sure. Caitlyn was now in contact with the potential birthfather’s daughter Valerie, who had actually taken a 23&Me test previously. I was thrilled to hear this and let Caitlyn know that they could both upload their DNA to Gedmatch and know within a day or two if they were half siblings, cousins, or another relationship altogether.
They both uploaded, and then the next day I awoke to a screenshot from Caitlyn- it was a match! Her and Valerie matched at the half sibling level, meaning Caitlyn’s birth father was indeed who we thought it was. Though initially a very big puzzle, I am happy to have helped Caitlyn out in her search and now she has the answers she needs.
One thought on “Caitlyn’s search”
You know, Lauren, this is just way too cool. So exciting to read these stories. You do a really good thing for people, kiddo. Well done. How are you keeping way over there in Vaughan? Zia C