I Found My Father and Brother

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Ancestry

I don’t know why I forgot to blog about this here, but I’ve been blogging about it on my other blog over at Xanapus.com.

So… I finally found my paternal father. Well, I should clarify that I discovered who he was before he passed away. I’ve been trying to find him since my mother told me about him on my 15th birthday, but there was no way I would be able to find another person at such a young age without today’s technology.

Like I said, my mother told me about my father on my 15th birthday. She gave me a name, but she also gave me a lot of story that didn’t really make sense, but I believed her at the time because I was always taught that parents never lie, they always tell the truth and you should listen to them no matter what.

So here’s the story she told me. She said that my father (step father) wasn’t my actual father, which I always knew, and that I have a biological father and she gave me his name and told me that they were in love and that she was still in love with him, despite being married to my step father, and that he was there throughout her pregnancy and he was there until I was 1 month of age, then he had to go to Germany in the army. The Berlin wall was still up at that point, and she told me that Germany was divided by east and west and that he must’ve gotten stuck on the wrong side of the wall, because he never came home. Does anyone have a violin?

The real story is that he was married to another woman in Germany and he was there by choice. His mother lived in Reseda here in California which is where he met my mother, and I don’t know exactly how they met, I don’t know anything about their relationship, but he basically did the deed with my mother, and here I am.

I just so happen to have a learning disability and I have trouble remembering names if I only hear them once, so when she told me his name, she also told me a bunch of other information, and I was too embarrassed to admit to her that I had already forgotten his last name before she even finished telling me the story.  I asked her in 1990 if she would tell me his name again because now that I was 19 years old, almost 20, I wanted to start looking for him again. She told me “no, absolutely not, because I’m afraid you will find him, and then I will leave your father (step) for him.” So um… how would that work if he was married to someone else? My mother died in 1993, and she took his name with her to the grave.

So fast forward to late 2001 when I got back in touch with my aunt and I asked her if she knew my paternal father’s last name and she knew it, but she didn’t know the correct spelling. She told me how she thought it was spelled, and since I had the internet, I could start my search and find him. Well, I searched every year. I searched the search engines for his name and found there were variations of his last name, and I searched for every variation. I always came up empty, so I would give up for another time. Some years I would check every month, some years I would check every few months, but as the years went on I would search less and less until I was dedicating only a day to searching for the entire year.

Now that there are things like 23andMe and AncestryDNA, I decided to do a DNA test because I figured that might help me. I actually did the 23andMe because I thought it was the most popular one. Nothing. It told me I had 1018 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and distant cousins, and only 2 of those cousins would even talk to me. One of them told me to check Ancestry for military records, which I did, but I couldn’t find anything. I searched in vein because they don’t have any military records, but I kept searching and then decided to do AncestryDNA. But after a few more tries through Ancestry records I actually narrowed it down to one guy with my paternal father’s name with the age I thought he would be and I was 99% sure that was him, and I was right. I found a record saying he had a son and I went searching for him. I was determined to find my brother. I tried searching for him through Ancestry, but nothing came up, so I went to Google and a website called MyLife gave me an email address for the low low price of $15, which I gladly paid even if it wasn’t him. I emailed him and it was in fact him.

My father is unfortunately deceased, but my brother is alive and he lives in Germany. He is 2 1/2 years older than me, and we have so many traits in common that you can’t even deny that we are brothers. We talked on Facebook for the first couple of days, then we video chatted on Skype and we will basically video chat on Skype on Saturdays. It’s just easier for him.

I was fully expecting to be told that our father made a mistake and that I was a mistake and that I shouldn’t contact him because I don’t matter, and I even told him I felt like I was a mistake, but he told me that I’m not a mistake and that he is glad I found him because he often wished he had a brother. I always wished I had a brother, and now I do have a brother and I couldn’t be happier.

The last couple of days I’ve had the most anxiety I’ve ever had because I knew the time would come when I would have to come out of the closet to him, because eventually people ask if you are married, if you have children or what the deal is, and I was terrified that after all this time searching and he didn’t reject me for being a mistake, he has to reject me for this, and I was just so scared because I just found him, I can’t lose him now. Not like this. I can’t let something like this kill our newborn relationship, because, I already love him so much. I’m actually crying right now.

Well, I told him and he didn’t even flinch. It didn’t even phase him one single bit. He didn’t care! Do you know how wonderful that is to know that someone doesn’t judge me for something as simple as being gay? I’ve been rejected by nearly everyone when they found out I was gay. I was homeless because I was gay, twice. I’ve had to quit jobs after I came out of the closet to co-workers because suddenly I was like a cancer to them. And my brother didn’t even care. I couldn’t be happier about it.

I don’t know what’s next, but I am learning to speak German with Duolingo and I hope to visit him in Germany one of these days if I can ever get my credit cards down to a decent amount so I can afford to go. I’m sure when that day comes I will be fully fluent in German. Who knows for sure what might happen next, but I just know I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I was worried that I would die with unfinished business and I would be stuck haunting people until I found the ghost of my father, but I actually have closure. I finally have closure.

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23andMe Results

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23andMeMy 23andMe results finally came after a month. The results weren’t surprising to me because most of the citizens of the United States are European.

They told me I have 1016 DNA Relatives, and they are mostly 2nd to distant cousins. I contacted the first person on the list and found out we are related from my great grandfather’s grandfather. His name was James Lancaster.

My mother never took the time to educate me on who my great grandfather was because my great grandmother and great grandfather had divorced. She married him in 1920, but then she married her second husband in 1964. My great grandfather remaried in 1940. I guess people in my family never speak about those who aren’t in their lives. And I had to find this information out through Ancestry.com.

The whole reason I did this was to find my paternal father, and I still haven’t found him. I did contact a couple more people who were in the list and the surnames in their account did not match with the surnames in my family tree, so I can only assume those are people on my paternal father’s side. I hope we can connect and they can help me put the pieces of the puzzle together.

I made a couple of videos and posted them on YouTube.

23andMe Spit ‘n’ Ship

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I am BEYOND excited right now. Today I received my 23andMe package. I didn’t want to mess any of it up, so I read all the directions, as a person should, and I did exactly what it told me to do. The first thing was that I wasn’t supposed to start spitting into the tube until 30 minutes after I had my last meal, drink or brushed my teeth. So I ate lunch, drank the last of my coffee, brushed my teeth thoroughly, then I set the timer on my phone for 30 minutes, then I started spitting in the tube lol.

Of course, during this 30 minute waiting period I was signing up for their website 23andMe.com and agreeing to everything, filling out all my deets, and of course they wanted to ask me a lot of health questions. I believe I answered 160 questions. After I had spit in the tube and closed it up, I packaged it up and rode my bicycle to the post office and dropped it off. I took a picture of the tracking number on the package so I could track it, and you know I will be obsessively tracking it lol.

I’m not entirely sure how long it will take for my results to come from the minute they receive my package though. I mean, how many of these packages do they receive in a month? It’s very popular right now, so it could very well take 2 or 3 months before I even get anything. I’ve waited since first learning about my paternal father in 1985, so I’ve waited this long, what’s another 2 or 3 months eh?

Not only will I obsessively check the tracking to see when it will arrive at its destination, but I will obsessively check the 23andMe.com website for my results. I will also continue answering as many questions as they need to ask me so my results come back as accurate as possible. Just by answering 160 questions, they said I have responded to more questions than about 45% of people who used one of these kits, so I’m doing pretty good I think.

I made the first part of my video, and I had to cut it short because I was getting choked up just thinking about finally finding my paternal father and possible siblings. When I get the results, I will film my reaction and probably finish the video. Unless of course they find relatives that are actually in the U.S., then I will probably get a train ticket and go see them, then I will continue filming my trip and actually meeting them.

To be continued…