Through MyHeritage, Great-Grandmother of 2 is Reunited with Uncles and Aunt She Never Knew Existed

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Shona Wise was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and immigrated to Perth, Australia with her family as a young child. She had always been intrigued by her family history — she knew her mother had been born out of wedlock in Scotland in 1937, but neither she nor her mother knew the identity of her mother’s biological father.

Shona’s mother

Now a mother of 4, grandmother of 12, and great-grandmother of 2, it was important to Shona for her children and their children to know about their heritage, so she ordered some birth certificates. When her mother’s birth certificate arrived, she was in for a surprise: her mother’s biological father was listed on it — under his full name.

Armed with this information, Shona began digging (with some help from her sister-in-law). Her biological grandfather had an unusual middle name, which made him a little easier to find. After some research, Shona came across a family tree on MyHeritage that listed that exact name — and the user who built the tree was living in Scotland.

With some hesitation, Shona decided to message the user explaining what she’d discovered. She mentioned in the message that if he didn’t want to respond, she would understand.

But a few days later, he wrote back. It turned out that this man was the son of the person Shona believed to be her biological grandfather. About a week later, he shared a photograph of his father. Shona was floored. “The similarities with one of my sons was uncanny!” she exclaims.

After about 9 months of writing back and forth, Shona and her new contact decided to do a DNA test to confirm their relationship once and for all.

Each of them received their test kits, swabbed their cheeks, and sent their tests to the lab.

“The waiting was excruciating,” Shona recalls. “My results came back first with no matches, and then a few days later I received an email… I was so nervous that it took me 2 days to open it.”

When she eventually opened it, the results were exactly as expected: the user she’d contacted was her uncle, and the man in the photograph he’d sent was her grandfather.

“I had found my Mum’s family,” she says. “My brother and I now have an aunt and uncle living in Scotland and an Uncle living in Melbourne who immigrated to Australia in 1966 with his family.”

“Fancy that — Mum had a half-brother living on the other side of the same continent and didn’t know!” says Shona. 

It turns out that Shona’s aunt in Scotland had done extensive family research going back 6 generations, all the way to the 1720s.

Since the discovery, Shona and her family have met their uncles and aunt and a few of their cousins.

Shona’s uncles and aunt

“My brother and I grew up thinking that we had no aunties or uncles, as both of our parents were only children,” says Shona. “We are delighted!”

“Our Mum always felt that there was something missing in her life,” Shona goes on. “Well, we have found that missing link. My only regret is that Mum isn’t with us anymore to finally meet her family. She died in 1972 at the age of 34.”

What advice does Shona have for people setting out to find the missing links in their own families? “Research one line at a time and keep hard copies of what you discover,” she says. “When I started, I was trying to do everyone at the same time, and it became very confusing.”

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  • Seaton Smithy


    August 20, 2020

    A wonderful story, but surely she has been united with her family and not reunited?

    You cannot be reunited with someone you have never met.