Saturday, August 1, 2015

CHAPTER 27: WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

So, the month of January consisted of....actually January and February was a blur.  Getting Malcolm's new sample turned out to be the easiest of all tasks.  I also had sent Serena a test so I could use her as a litmus test in case Malcolm's sample got compromised.  The idea was that if she matched him and not me- his original results were correct.  Likewise, if she happened to match me and not him- then there was proof that 23andMe had made an error.  In the meantime, I had sent an Ancestry DNA test to John and Lynn- just to cover all my bases.  I wired them money so that they could afford to return the test as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately their idea of quickly and mine differ.  Ultimately I received the returned test in as much time as it probably would have taken using regular means. After finally receiving it, I then sent it back to Ancestry for processing.  Ancestry has only recently started offering testing in Australia- so in January I didn't want to risk them rejecting a sample that had originated elsewhere.
In the meantime, I had received a notification that Serena's sample had not yielded enough DNA and they needed to retest her.  At this point I had still not conveyed to Serena the gravity of what was happening.  I didn't want to cause her any undue concern until I had a better grasp on what exactly was happening.  She was getting married the third week of February and I knew she was already overburdened.  

It took me several days to realize that Malcolm's results were ready. I actually don't remember how I discovered it- perhaps there was an e-mail.  There was no change to his Ancestry Composition.  He still did not share a single cM of DNA with me.  Serena was next. It was late March.  She matched Malcolm as his daughter.  She did not match me at all.  He is not my father.  She is not my sister.

On March 30 I received notification that John's results were in.  He is not my father.

Needless to say, the past six months have been troubling.  I find myself in bouts of depression.  Up until a few weeks ago I had stopped exercising, and was eating and drinking way too much.  I found a new therapist.  She's helping me to verbalize my continued trauma.  I can't really afford therapy right now- but if there were ever a time that I needed it- it would be now.

Lynn is steadfast in her belief that Malcolm is my father.  No matter how many times I tell her that it is a scientific impossibility, she refuses to acknowledge that there had to have been someone else.  I've asked her about the possibility of an event so traumatic that she completely blocked it out.  She says no.  I've asked her if she had any surgeries around that time- or was under any sort of anesthesia. She says no. She says she can't explain it and hopes that I can get over it.  I can not.

I suppose that so-called Repressed Memory Syndrome is a possibility.  If there was a trauma that resulted in a pregnancy- wouldn't my continuous questions spark something?  When asked if she had told anyone about the results she said that John knew and he believed her.  Believed what?  Surely he understands that I had to have had a 'father'.  She said he mentioned an old boyfriend of Lynn's that she had broken up with but he was persistent and left flowers and chocolates on the front porch of the house she was staying in with her Uncle.  She told me his name- though she had never slept with him-and also told me that he had died in 1973.

I know you know where this is going.  Within three weeks I had found his living sister, Ivy, explained my situation and convinced her to take a DNA test.  In a bizarre coincidence, she happened to live in the same town as Sharyn (you know, road trip Sharyn)- and I was able to send the kit to Sharyn and she walked over to the lady's home- a couple of blocks away- and helped her take the test.  Sharyn took pictures of her and told me that we have the same eyes.  She said that she looked at her the same way that I look at people.  While that was encouraging- I've learned not to expect anything until I have scientific proof.  Rightfully so- as Ivy's results came up as "not a match."  Unless Ivy, or her brother, was adopted and didn't know it, it was another dead end.

As it stands, the only thing I have to go on at this point is DNA.  Unless Lynn has some sort of break through it will probably take years.  There are very few Australians in the genealogy databases as it wasn't readily available to Australians until very recently.

The only factual information that I have is that I was conceived in June or July of 1964 in Melbourne, Australia.  My mother says she was working as a Nurses Aid at the Royal Children's Hospital.  She was staying in a room at the home of her deceased Great Aunt's husband, Dave Bell.  He was well into his eighties at that time.  Upon sharing this information on a 23andMe message board, I received the following superb e-mail-

Hi Julie,

I've been following your threads and can only imagine the emotional rollercoaster you've been on trying to find your bio-dad.

Please take what I'm going to suggest to you with as much gravity as you feel it deserves. 

Is it possible that your father could be one of the Beatles?
They toured Melbourne on the 15th, 16th and 17th of June 1964 and you may be aware of the hysteria they created especially amongst young ladies. There was a relatively recent documentary that aired on the Australian ABC TV about this topic (sorry, can't remember the name) which revealed the extant that the Beatles and their entourage were visited in their hotel rooms by young women. I remember when I watched it one of the insiders that they interviewed said something along the lines of "they must have been all shooting blanks because I'm surprised there wasn't a spate of pregnancies after what went on".
I don't want to give you any false hope but I just thought it was worth mentioning after I saw you post that you were probably conceived in June or July 1964. I didn't want to post such a 'crazy' suggestion on the public forum and thought it was better to private message you.
By the way, the impression I got from the documentary of the young ladies involved was that they seemed like very nice but naïve girls who were caught up in all the hysteria of Beatlemania at the time.
Please don't be offended at anything I have suggested.
I do sincerely wish you the greatest of luck in your efforts to find your heritage. You seem very strong and I know you'll get there in the end. 

See?  Superb.  Here was my response-

Dear xxxxx, This was truly my most favorite e-mail EVER. What a delightful way to wake up. While it does sound like a ludicrous possibility- you can bet that I'm going to do my due diligence and research it.  I appreciate your ability to think outside of the box and not be afraid to reach out. Thank you for your suggestion. Wouldn't it be crazy if you turned out to be right?

Warmest regards,
Julie

So. You may have noticed that I use humor to make light of the most upsetting of situations.  There is a saying that goes something like "tragedy plus time equals comedy".  A lot of the time you have to laugh or you'll cry.  I mean, seriously, I spent twenty five years, countless thousands of dollars and travelled internationally and "bonded" with a complete "fake" family- all the while outing my "supposed" father as a pathological liar.  Its. Just. Bananas.  I couldn't have made this up if I tried.

I'm currently exploring any and all of my DNA matches that do not match my mother.  Anyone that has a connection to Australia gets priority.  I have been speaking with a lady, Jill in Alaska, who matches me with enough DNA to predict that we are probably 4-6th cousins.  She has a well researched tree (a rarity) and a branch of her family came from England before traveling to New Zealand and Australia.  In fact, there appear to be several branches with family members who were, in fact, residing in the Melbourne area at the time I was conceived.  I've reached out to one family and, by virtue of my magical phone voice, have convinced an obliging gentleman to provide a DNA sample. Once received and processed, I will be able to determine if we share any DNA.  If we do, I can then upload his raw DNA data to a free website called Gedmatch.  In the meantime, I'm going to ask Jill (the lady in Alaska) to upload her raw data as well.  To put it simply, we will be able to compare our data -chromosome by chromosome.  If, by some miracle, all three of us match in the same area of the same chromosome- we can conclude that all three of us share the same ancestor. This is called Triangulation. Depending on how much DNA we share, I can conclude that I am on the right track and am getting closer to the truth.

That all makes perfect sense right?  Yeah.  It's a learning curve.  There's also the variable that sometimes, if there is enough genetic distance between two relatives- they may not match at all.  For example, I may match someone as a fourth cousin, but because siblings inherit different random DNA from their distant ancestors, I may not match that person's full sibling.  I know, right?  That's why it's important in Genetic Genealogy to test as many family members as possible.  Keep in mind, that this should not happen in closer matches.