Last semester, one of my big boys asked if he could do the Ancestry DNA test that you see on the tv commercials and look at ancestry.com. He wanted to learn more about his biological family. I told him yes immediately but also told him we’d make it part of school for this semester. He was instantly excited!
One thing you need to understand, he doesn’t show much interest in…anything. It’s all about what catches his eye in that very moment. He doesn’t have a long attention span. I genuinely have a hard time figuring out what to get him for his birthday and Christmas. If you ask him what he’s interested in, he’ll tell you, “I don’t know.” If you let him pick one thing out at the store – for whatever reason – he’ll find what he REALLY wants within 5 seconds of walking into the store and will continuously switch it out until you walk to the check out. (When Niki took him to buy an outfit for Gabriel before he was born, I told her to give him a limit of 3 switch outs for the outfit, otherwise she’d be there for hours. When she came home, she thanked me because she didn’t realize that I was being literal.)
Now that you understand that, this boy got an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas. 1) Because he actually showed interest in SOMETHING. 2) I’m just as curious as he is about his ancestry. I can’t imagine what that would feel like not to know about your biological family, so I have zero problem letting them be little detectives. Besides, there’s so many learning opportunities in this – research skills, genealogy, genetics, geography, history, reading. Lot of contextual learning!
Les and I also got a DNA kit as well and decided we’d make this a family project. All of us were itching to get started but especially this boy!
Our DNA samples have been mailed off and we’re currently waiting the 6-8 weeks for the results. Meanwhile, we’re hunting down ancestors on ancestry.com. Les and I have found that we cannot get on there unless OUR chores are done and we don’t have anything major going on the next day. (Also preferably when our kids are asleep) You find yourself hooked and unable to walk away. It’s fascinating as you weave your own personal family story!!!
I knew it was going to be hard to track down my big boys’ ancestors but it’s proving even more difficult than I feared. I have their biological dad’s name and their paternal grandmother – and for now anyway, that’s all I can find on that side of the family. I have their biological mom’s name, grandma, and great-grandma on the maternal side. Not a single father was listed on any of the birth certificates for either side. I only knew biological dad’s name from foster care paperwork and I wrote down maternal grandpa’s name from birthparent visits when I heard his name called. None of them are married and they don’t list dads on the birth certificates – I’m not left with much to search for! At best I can take educated guesses for the fathers based on the child’s name (because even though the moms didn’t list the dad’s names on the birth certificates, they did give their children the dad’s last name). I can cross reference last name with the area they would have lived and about the right time period but that’s all the more I can do – an educated guess. It’s also “fun” explaining to the big boys that none of their family actually got married and that the moms didn’t list the dads on the birth certificates. “Why?” Ug. I knew that was probable going in though.
Then I learned that my son who asked to do this thought we just had to wait for the DNA test to come back and it would give the names of his relatives. Oh my! He didn’t understand how it worked and I felt so bad for him. He insisted that the commercials said it would tell you your relatives names and I had to explain to him that he misunderstood and that we’d only find out where his relatives immigrated from. He instantaneously was no longer interested in the project. Noooooooooooooo!
I’ve been spending the past week trying to get him re-interested. He’s mildly there. Mildly is generous. I’m hoping to re-hook him…somehow.
Two of our boys were sick with fevers and considerable sinus problems on Saturday and when we got up on Sunday – all the boys had it. Les and I spent most of Sunday in bed while the two youngest took naps off and on and searched on ancestry for Les’ family tree. Les is such an Irish Texan! There is a line of German in their too but the Irish background is strong. There is a line of his family that has been in the states for a very long time and we haven’t found where they immigrated from yet. It will be interesting to see if we can find it and how his test results come back.
I’ve been talking to my brother and aunt for the past couple of days about my great-grandfather as we try to figure out what his name would be on the NY passenger list when they immigrated into this country. We’ve all had a difficult time finding it and pretty much convinced we weren’t going to find it but I wanted to keep trying a bit more.
Last night, I had dinner going on the stove when Les got home and I wanted to show him my lineage directly back to the Mayflower (through my paternal grandmother) that I had typed into the program earlier in the day. While in there, I was telling Les the info that I had from my aunt and brother about my great-grandfather, so we thought we’d spend a few more minutes looking again.
Yeah….it was not a few more minutes.
But then! We found three people on a NY passenger list that could potentially be my great-grandfather, great-grandmother, and my grand aunt but we weren’t sure it was them. It had the right amount of people, ages, genders, place of origin…but their names were very different from what we thought it would be. There was also a handwritten note next to the three of them that two other children were with them with a number. We assumed it was a year.
Then Les came up with a brilliant thought – what if it was a page number and the line numbers for the two children. Page 19, lines 14 and 15. Could it be?! Would we find my uncle and grandpa on that other page?! Would we finally be able to find them?!
We found page 20. Then page 18. We flip back and forth – no page 19. Are you kidding me?! Where’s page 19?!
Our two littlest guys were BEGGING for dinner at this point which was sitting on the stove, slightly burnt, waiting for us to eat dinner. I needed to take a break from our search at the climax of potentially finding the one person I thought we’d never find, my great-grandpa, when everyone else couldn’t find him. Arrrgh!
I told Les as I got up to give our kids food, “Keep looking for page 19 in case it just got out of order when they scanned and uploaded the list but if you find it, don’t you dare look at page 19 without me!”
“I promise. I’ll yell out if I find it and wait for you.”
I go to the kitchen and I got food for Gabriel and Symeon when I hear, “I found page 19!!!!!”
“I’m coming!!!!!!! Wait for me!”
“As the boys are my witness, I am not reading page 19!” I walk in to see Les holding my laptop over his head so he couldn’t see the page.
I sit down next to him and we both start scanning the page. There they were!!!!! They had names we weren’t expecting (the Greek versions of the American names we knew them by) but there they were – my grand uncle and grandpa! Their birthdays and places of birth matched! The two of them were on a separate page because they were U.S. citizens. (Born here in Ohio and Michigan)
We found them! We found them! We found them!!!! I’m still giddy.
(Then I fed everyone else.)