DNA Solves a Mystery and Connects a Family

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Susie W., aged 39, has been using MyHeritage since December 2015. She grew up with her mother in Papua New Guinea. She is now married with six children. Growing up, Susie always felt that she looked and acted differently from the rest of her siblings. She asked her mother questions about her roots, but her mother always answered that Susie took after her grandmother, whom she never knew.

Susie at 4 months old with her mother.

In 1994, her grandfather told her the truth. Susie, then 16, had always thought she had a different father, but she was shocked and angry. She confronted her mother who confirmed that Susie was the product of a brief encounter with someone, who remained unknown. Susie had no name or country to go on. Based on the limited information from her mother, he was an American tourist working with a Lutheran missionary organization.

For years after, Susie searched for more information about her biological father. She left no stone unturned, asking everyone who might know something for clues. But no one knew anything else about her father. She kept hitting a brick wall and she was quite discouraged. After an exhausting and stressful search, she decided to quit looking.

Years later, after taking a DNA test, Susie was finally able to get some answers about her biological father.

In 2014, when she heard about DNA testing, she was amazed to learn that a person can find relatives just through a DNA sample. She decided to give it a try. Her results confirmed that her father was of predominantly North Western European heritage. Surprisingly, her closest DNA matches were all British.

When my results were posted around October 2015, I was in for a surprise! I logged in to my account and there was a list of total strangers who happened to be my fourth-to-fifth cousins. For the very first time, I knew where my biological father was from…Europe.

It was an exciting moment for Susie but she wasn’t satisfied. She didn’t understand where to go from there, and how to use her DNA matches to get more information about her father. But she decided she wasn’t going to stop there. She started searching online, and soon she reached MyHeritage.

My instinct was telling me that I would find something on MyHeritage, so I signed up and started looking through historical records. While I was searching on MyHeritage, I came across the link to “hire an expert.”

She enlisted Legacy Tree Genealogists, our research partner, to advance her search. As a first step, the researchers located U.K. birth, marriage, and death records, as well as U.K. censuses for her DNA matches. This helped determine that the matches were descendants of Charles A. and Louisa V. of Grays Thurrock, Essex, England. They concluded that Susie was also likely a descendant of Charles and Louisa.

One descendant of Charles and Louisa shared DNA with Susie on the X-chromosome. Since the genetic cousin had no ancestry from Papua New Guinea, it was assumed she shared DNA with Susie on her paternal X-chromosome. Therefore, Susie descended from Charles and Louisa through her paternal grandmother. In turn, Susie’s paternal grandmother was a granddaughter of the couple.

One of Susie’s other close genetic cousins had no shared DNA with Susie’s other relatives. However, she only had a single line of ancestry from the U.K. A single couple was narrowed down to the likely ancestral candidates of the cousin, Charles P. and his wife, Mary.

Having identified two couples who were likely among Susie’s ancestors, the descendants of each couple were traced. The team searched for marriages and relationships among the descendants of the respective families. A granddaughter of Charles and Louisa was found to have married a grandson of Charles and Mary P. This couple had two sons, either of whom could have been Susie’s father!

Susie was ecstatic. She contacted one of the sons and his daughter and discovered that, while he had never been to Papua New Guinea, his elder brother had. A Legacy Tree Genealogists researcher in Australia was contacted to locate immigration records for him. These records revealed that the elder brother had a daughter who lived in Queensland, Australia.

Susie reached out to her half-sister in January 2017, and although her sister was quite surprised by the news, she was also excited. They exchanged information and photos, and the half-sister couldn’t believe Susie’s resemblance to their father. The two arranged to meet.

The reunion was so emotional. We connected instantly and talked for hours. It was as if we had known each other forever. The feeling was remarkable, embracing each other for the first time in 40 years and shedding tears of joy together.

Since this meeting, the relationship between Susie and her father has been confirmed through a MyHeritage DNA test. They’ve been in contact and Susie learned of another half-sister as well.

Our lives have changed now that we are family. We are excited to create new memories together with our children. My older sister’s kids are excited to meet me and my children and vice versa. We are looking forward to a big family reunion soon.

Chris and his daughters

When she started her research, Susie was looking to find more information about her heritage and to get a sense of closure.

It turns out that my findings developed into something beautiful. My dad accepted me as his daughter. I gained two new sisters, a niece, and a nephew. I’ve also learned the names of my paternal grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents.

After a search of over two decades, Susie is finally complete with her findings.

I have found my family and was finally able to get the closure that I so needed through MyHeritage and their research partner Legacy Tree Genealogists. MyHeritage DNA Matching is amazing because you get a breakdown of your ethnicity that is clear and easy to understand. The DNA Matches are also useful and you can through them. They also have billions of historical records for you to dig deeper into your family history.

I want to tell others who have open questions like me to never give up hope. When there is a will, then there is a way.

Have you thought about locating unknown relatives? Or have you successfully reunited? Share your stories in the comments below.

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