TWO WEEKS AGO TODAY, I wrote a post titled Finding My Father: Part 1. In that post, I explained some of the reasons why I believed, for many years, that my mother’s first husband — the man whose name is on my birth certificate — probably wasn’t my biological father.
In fact, for years I have believed that my mother’s old boyfriend, a fellow she dated before she met and married her first husband, was probably my biological father. As I explained in part one, my mother took me to meet her old boyfriend when I was five or six years old, and she told him then that I was his daughter.
Yet another reason why I thought that the man I called “daddy,” my mother’s first husband, couldn’t possibly be my biological father, was because my mom’s first husband told me that he was 1/4 black. This meant, of course, that I should be 1/8 black, if I were his daughter. But when I had my DNA tested a few years ago, twice with Ancestry and once with 23andMe, all three of my DNA profiles came back saying that I am only 1% African. Nigerian, to be precise. And there is a big difference between 1/8 black and 1/100!
Both Ancestry and 23andMe gave me a list of over 1,000 DNA relatives, and not one of them was an obvious relative of my mom’s first husband. But there were several distant cousins listed that I quickly recognized as being related on my mother’s side, both at Ancestry and at 23andMe.
I resigned myself to the possibility that I might never learn the identity of my real father. But last month, on December 13, the mystery was solved when I got an email through 23andMe from a relative who had just had her DNA tested. She is now the closest relative I have listed on 23andMe. And she is my dad’s half sister.
Which dad? The man I called “daddy” as I was growing up. The man whose name is on my birth certificate. My mother’s first husband. He really was my father!
I don’t understand the discrepancy in my racial profile. Maybe my dad wasn’t 1/4 black, like he believed. I have researched this and I’ve learned that, because we only inherit a random 50% of our DNA from each parent, entire races can eventually fall out of our DNA. In fact, if my mother hadn’t told her old boyfriend, right in front of me, that I was his child, I might never have doubted that my dad was…. my dad!
My dad and I had a rough history, though. Almost as rough as the history I have had with my mom. He died 31 years ago this month, on January 16, 1988. Prior to his death, I had not seen him or talked to him in over eight years. And the last time I saw him alive, way back when I was in my twenties — it wasn’t a good visit.
My emotions, since learning the true identity of my biological father, have been mixed. It’s a relief to finally KNOW. And the truth is that I really did love my daddy, even with all the drama, the trauma, and the occasional abuse. He was my dad, and even with his diagnosed multiple personality disorder, at times he was a very good father and I loved him.
But there were all the things that happened when different personalities took over, things that were absolutely devastating. So yeah, my emotions have been mixed.
And yet, it’s been wonderful, emailing back and forth with my dad’s half sister. She was born two days after me. When we were children, we were more like sisters than aunt and niece. (Back then, she hated being two days younger than me. She used to say: “I am your aunt, I should be older!”)
When my parents’ crazy, violent marriage finally ended, I lost touch with that side of the family. My dad’s little sister and I were twelve years old when her brother and my mother divorced. This was more than half a century ago, so we’ve had a lot of catching up to do. It’s been great, though. I really like the person she grew up to be!
A few days after my half-aunt and I connected through 23andMe, she told me that her late mother, my paternal grandmother, had saved a lot of things from my dad’s childhood: cards he had sent her, artwork he made as a child, school papers that he had written, and even some of his report cards. “I never knew what to do with these things, but I couldn’t bear to throw them out. Would you want me to mail them to you?” she asked.
I told her I would LOVE that! So, about three weeks ago, shortly after Christmas, the box that you see in the picture at the top of this post, arrived on my doorstep.
And I am still trying to work up the courage to open it…..