Dina’s search

*All names have been changed

Search goal: Find Dina’s biological parents

Dina is a Canadian adoptee who reached out for help finding her birth parents. She had a DNA match Janice that was also helping her, but they were getting stuck, so I was happy to join the team.

Dina had her birthmother’s name (Hannah Simmons), approx age, and Dina had done an Ancestry test. So I took a look at her matches and used the Leeds method to sort her matches into groups.

Her groups split into five main groups, with 3 being from Newfoundland and 2 being from Scotland. I figured this would be how her maternal and paternal sides were split, though we did not know which side was which.

As Simmons* was a popular Newfoundland last name, I figured the birthmother was possibly from the Newfoundland side. However, upon looking through the matches’ trees, Simmons was not the common last name of any of the groups. So I decided to not assume either side was maternal or paternal, and just followed the DNA.

Though there were significantly less DNA matches on Dina’s Scottish side, I started to make a tree hoping the two groups would connect. It took some time, but I discovered that one match from one of the Scottish groups had a great aunt that had married Janice’s mother’s cousin, who was from the other match group.

This couple had at least one son that came to Canada, and settled in the province that Dina was born in. Using ScotlandsPeople, I discovered that the couple also had a daughter named Hannah, whose age also matched. Janine and I were confident that we had identified Dina’s birthmother, which meant that Dina’s birthmother was not genetically a Simmons.

I took another look at the Newfoundland match groups, and Dina had decent matches that had trees, but there just didn’t seem to be any overlap between the groups or any obvious connections. There were several matches that were descended from a set of siblings with the Simmons last name, but Dina did not have any Simmons DNA. However, she did seem to have DNA from the Simmons’ siblings mother’s side.

Similarly, with her other Newfoundland match group O’Neil, there was a common ancestral couple of some close matches, that Dina only had matches from the father’s side. So Janice and I started to think that maybe the mother from the Simmons group had a child with the father from the O’Neil group, and raised the child as a Simmons- and that child was Dina’s birth father. Janice even discovered that the Simmons mother and the O’Neil were neighbors in Newfoundland, and we figured that Dina’s birthfather was likely the product of a Simmons-O’Neil affair.

There were several Simmons sons, and all were in the reasonable age range to be Dina’s birthfather. Janice tracked down Irwin, a son of one of the possible birth fathers, and reached out to him. Irwin confirmed his father Daniel had been in Ontario around the time Dina was born.

During this search, Dina even met Irwin and many other family members when she visited Newfoundland in the summer. Irwin agreed to take a DNA test, although it was very clear once they met that they were half siblings! He also told her that they had another paternal half sibling- a sister. 8 weeks later, Irwin showed up as a paternal half sibling on Dina’s Ancestry match list. Janice had also done lots of additional research and discovered that Dina has a maternal half sister, and found records of Hannah and Daniel living together in Ontario.

Dina is very happy to know who her birth parents are and to have many new family connections. Thank you to Janice also for your help with Dina’s search!

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