My father was adopted by his uncle in Liverpool in the early 1950s (when he was 3 years old). However, his adoption was kept a secret, until it was uncovered when my father applied for life insurance in his 40s.
His birth certificate stated his aunt’s name, who lived in his family home, along with his adopted parents and adopted brother (who was actually his cousin). His father’s name was listed as unknown.
Unfortunately, his adoptive parents and his biological mother had passed away at this point, and no other living relatives knew who his father was. So we thought it was a lost cause and accepted that we’d never know.
This was until last year when I watched the BBC documentary, DNA Family Secrets, where people were solving similar family secrets using DNA. I suggested that my father took a DNA test too, which he did last December.
The test results revealed that he had around 20% African ethnicity on his parental side. Something we were not aware of. He also had many DNA matches, but without knowing the name of his biological father we didn’t know how we were related.
I contacted the Ancestry experts team and they suggested contacting the closest matches to see if anyone could help. But again, without a name, it was impossible to know what we were looking for. The Ancestry experts also recommended joining a Facebook group called DNA Detectives, which is a group of DNA and genealogy enthusiasts.
I posted a message on the group and asked if anyone would be able to help me understand my father’s DNA results, in order to uncover who my paternal grandfather was. A lovely lady and genetic genealogist called Britta, based in California, offered to help me!
After discussing my requirements and the information I had so far, she asked for access to my father’s account on the Ancestry website. She then used the tools on the website to establish who the relatives were on my father’s paternal side.
With the information from the Ancestry website, and by uploading my father’s DNA to other genealogy websites, she was able to build a family tree! The tree led us back to one set of common ancestors from the late 1800s which were of Trinidadian descent!
We have since connected with the living family members of my father’s generation (who are based in Canada, USA, Belize, Trinidad & the UK). They have been so welcoming and helpful, taking further DNA tests, which enabled us to determine who my father’s paternal great-grandparents were.
The next step is to find out who his grandparents were through further DNA testing, which will then uncover the secret of who my father’s biological father actually was.
My father is 75 years old this November. What a wonderful gift this would be!
- Hannah’s father photo: Hannah