October 12, 2016

Just to be perfectly clear...

In the days since DNA led me to discover my true biological father, I've experienced many different emotions. Mostly, I've just felt so sad that Carl Stancil wasn't my biological father.  In the larger scheme of life, it really doesn't matter who my bio father may be. What matters is who raised me to be the woman I am today. And that man was Carl Donald Stancil - the finest man I've ever known.

I've written a great deal about him on this blog. He was so proud to be an American, a Christian, and my father. He was kind, compassionate, loving, patient, and so very sweet. I wish I could hold his hand one more time. Just for a minute.

So while I'm off exploring my biological family, I'll never forget who raised me. I'm the luckiest girl on earth.

Carl Donald Stancil

October 9, 2016

Perseverance + serendipity = Success

I found my biological father. 

I feel both grateful and guilty – at the same time. Grateful to my friends who encouraged me to dig and helped me analyze data but guilty that I found him so quickly when others have searched for years.

Were it not for DNA testing, I would have never known my father was not my biological father. I would have been blissfully ignorant the rest of my life, chasing dead Stancil family members until the cows came home never knowing I was pouring my soul into finding people who not my blood relatives. Would that have been a terrible thing? Not really. However...

Were it not for DNA testing, I would have never found my biological father. I would have never known my own truth.

DNA testing can be a blessing and a curse. As they say, don't ask the question if you can't take the answer.

One day. On a whim. Because it was on sale. Because all my friends were doing it. Because I was curious about my ethnicity. Because I wanted to expand my research skills. Because I wanted to know more about my family. Because it seemed like innocent fun…I took a DNA test.

It changed everything.

It changed nothing.

How I found my biological father in 10 easy steps:

  1. First, tested with AncestryDNA. Results = 40% Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Whaaatttt? Not what I expected. Nah, not possible.  
  2. Next, tested with FamilyTreeDNA. Results = 43% Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Umm...there are no Jews in my ancestry. What’s going on here?  
  3. Then, tested with 23andMe. Results = 47.7% Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Uh Oh. Oh gosh. No. Could it be? Oh goodness.
  4.  The unthinkable hit me: one or both of my parents may not be a biological parent. Seriously?!? I stared at my results in disbelief. Went to that night bed dazed and confused. The obsession set in. 
  5. Attended DNA workshops, joined a DNA Special Interest Group, read DNA how-to books at night until I couldn’t hold my eyes open, bugged my knowledgeable friends endlessly. Saints they are, my friends. 
  6. Sent many many many emails to my matches; most total strangers. Got 1 or 2 responses.
  7. Discovered one 1st cousin match and one 2nd cousin match online. Focused on those.  Like a laser, I did.  
  8. Couldn’t make contact with either until I found the 2nd cousin’s address via a Google search (i.e. Internet Stalking).  Mailed him an old-fashioned letter. The kind you put in an envelope and drop in a metal box.    
  9. A week later, he called and gave me names to research.  The entire family were German and Russian Jews.  My 2nd cousin handed me the key to the truth. God bless him. 
  10. Created a family tree based on those names. Lo and behold…staring at the 1940 census for Lenoir County, NC…I knew I’d found my man. A family friend from my childhood. I knew him well. Apparently, so did my mother.

All the pieces fell into place. Certain things now make perfect sense. A fellow named Harry, for whom my mother worked in the late 1950s, a family friend (and his wife) we visited often even after they retired to Florida in the mid-1960s. 

I still have lots of questions and loads to process. But even if I never get those answers, I’ve answered the most important question of all. I feel more peaceful today that I have in the weeks since learning of my “situation”. I can breathe without strategizing the next step in my search.

I have always been very proud of the fact that my roots run deep in North Carolina. Thankfully, Harry continues that tradition; he was born and grew up one county over from mine. Whew. I coulda been half New Yorker or something. Close call!

Is closure in sight? Not really. Probably not ever. The upside is 1) I have an answer, 2) I have a new family to research, and 3) I understand my mother just a little bit better now. All good things. 

September 26, 2016

More questions than answers

Clyde the Bulldog
How it is that I got one answer but it led me to about 1000 new questions? Is that crazy?

I received news of my mom's blood type. The news is bad. She doesn't match.

Mom = O+
Dad = O-
Potential Baby = O

Uh oh. 

Carla = A+

It's not possible for two O parents to produce an A child. Unless they're mutants, which they aren't. This means one or both of my parents are not my biological parents. Now, everyone keeps reminding me what an awesome childhood I had, so what does it matter, blah, blah, blah.


Yes, I had a great childhood and as I keep saying, I will love my parents until the end of time.


Can you imagine what it might be like to discover in mid-life that the one constant you would have forever is now a mystery? 

I've lived a great life, but like all lives it's not been without it's bumps. All the usual stuff, such as crazy teenagers, divorce, cancer. Now this. Now I discover my parents are UNKNOWN. 

I don't come from the type of people who have unknown parents. But...guess what? I do!

One of the following 4 things will become my new constant:

1) NPE. Non-parental event. (Is that a cold term for the matter or what?)
2) Adoption (birth certificate faked, family member got in the "family way", etc)
3) Switched at birth (these words still make my head spin)
4) Sperm donor. Really? In 1959?

So I'm seriously chasing the DNA matches to see where they lead me. One in particular is intriguing...a FIRST cousin. Problem is he has a fairly common name but heck he is a FIRST cousin AND is of Jewish descent. So I'm bugging total strangers to help me with a mystery that isn't even theirs.

Just call me the "BULLDOG". Cause that's what I'm gonna be until I get some answers!

September 21, 2016


Oh gosh, the A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N is just killin' me.

I've been anxiously (and impatiently) waiting for my mom's medical records to show up in the mail. I ordered them from 3 different places.

Today, WakeMed called to ask a few questions and said they'd be mailing records including her blood type TODAY. They wouldn't give me the blood type over the phone, dang it.

I might know as soon as TOMORROW if Mom is potentially my biological Mom.

Dad's blood type = O+
My blood type = A+
Mom's blood type = must be A+ or she can't be my mom

If she is A+, then I can at least leave her on my list of potential biological mothers. If she isn't, she falls off the list and I'm in a bigger tizzy than I am now, but at least I'll have a definitive fact. Right now, definitive facts are in mighty short supply.

In the meantime, enjoy Carly's blast from the past. I was 12 years old in 1971 and in middle school at Jacksonville Junior High School in...where else...Jacksonville, NC. I wasn't allowed to listen to Rock and Roll but would sneak my little transistor radio into bed with me and listen to it under the sheets. WKIX in Raleigh. Now THERE is a blast from the past!

September 20, 2016

What is Inheritance?

My beautiful and wonderful friend Cyndi pointed me toward this really cute two minute animation on how we get our DNA. 

Perfect for beginners and for those of us who get things scrambled in their head and need to come back down to earth (ie real science). 

Check out my little buddies below by clicking here. 

September 16, 2016

Read a Book: The Stranger in my Genes

My DNA quandary has led me to read books and watch TV shows that never would have caught my attention otherwise. 

TV. Really. I can take it or leave it. I usually leave it. I almost always regret whatever time I've spent watching TV. It rots the brain, you know. I have enough issues in that department.

On the up side, I've just finished an excellent book entitled The Stranger in my Genes. It was a short but powerful read  by Bill Griffeth, the financial wizard who leads us through the finance news each day at 3pm on CNBC just before the closing bell. 

Who knew he was an amateur genealogist?

AND who knew he experienced a great DNA surprise similar to mine? Bill discovered his dad wasn't his dad. He explains the emotions and process a thousand times better than I ever could. 

Bill drives home the point that if you must have your DNA analyzed, you should be prepared for the results, whatever they may be. DNA is science. It's real. It does not lie or tell stories. It doesn't care if it turns your world upside down.

Have a read. Especially before mailing off your DNA test. 

September 14, 2016

Ummm...we have a problem. A DNA problem. A big one.

Oh. My gosh. I've got a real mystery on my hands. A big one that will impact nearly 30 years of diligent genealogy research. Not to mention my psyche.

On a lark (and also to benefit my research), I took a DNA test. Results say I'm 40% Ashkenazi Jewish.

Ok. Took another test. 43% Jewish Diaspora. Huh.

Took a 3rd test. A whopping 47.7% Ashkenazi Jewish. Nearly 50%. Half. 

What does this mean? 

It means I'm 1/2 Ashkenazi Jew. You get 1/2 of your DNA from each parent. One of my parents was...Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ). Neither of my parents were AJ.

My son tested at 25% AJ. Exactly what you would expect if a maternal grandparent was nearly 100% AJ.

Why is that significant? 

Neither of my parents were of Jewish descent. Or my grandparents. Or my great grandparents. Or my great great grandparents. I know this for a fact. Although I can't DNA test dead people, I know these folks through and through. I can't know their ethnic origins, but I know they were all dyed in the wool Baptists. Every last one of them. Devoted Baptists.

Anyhow....50% means a PARENT. My mom or dad.

What does this REALLY mean?

It was hard to say out loud at first, but now I can say that it means one of my biological parents is unknown.

Was it mom? Maybe. She was "adventurous", shall we say.  However, we do know she was in fact pregnant at the right time and I have a certified birth certificate to show I was born to her and dad.

Was it dad? Maybe. He suffered serious war injuries. Could he have been sterile? They had been married 7 years when I came along. They've told me they had been trying since their wedding day to have a baby. They were unable to have other children, making me an only child.

Was I switched at birth? As ludicrous as this sounds, the answer is "maybe". Maybe. 

The Experts

I'm leaning heavily on my "DNA friends" to help me figure this out. One friend thinks it's on my maternal side, which lends a tad more more credibility to the "switched at birth" scenario. 

Together, we are chasing a lot of leads. I'm doing every single thing one of them tells me to do. 

I've requested both parents medical records from every hospital and doctor I can think of who may have treated them. 

Dad's blood type was O+. Mine is A+. I don't know mom's yet, but if it's not A+ then we know for a fact she is not my mother. A blood fact.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that my mom and dad gave me a wonderful childhood. Every family has their issues, but as things go, my issues were few. I was a well-loved and well-raised little girl. I will love my parents until the end of time. No matter what. 

Sure ain't.