GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-10 > 1129898044
Subject: Not Brothers
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 12:34:04 +0000
I don't know if that has happened before, but we all knew it would sooner or later.
I have a participant in the Estes DNA project who did not match the ancestral Estes line. He was pretty surprised, but there is a fuzzy place in his paper genealogy that bore further investigation. We agreed with what we knew, and what we didn't, that the fuzzy area that involved children not living with their parents and such was a logical place to focus.
I had "the talk" with him then. I told him that if he wasn't prepared for the answer, whatever it might be, he shouldn't test any further. I also explained that while he isn't an ancestral Estes, that his line has established a new Estes profile. I tried to make this as easy as possible for him to deal with. He was quite upset with his original results and asked all of the normal questions about lab error and such. Suffice it to say that I have invested a lot of time in what I would term "remediation".
Given that I've had some "unexpected" results in my own line, I understand his drive to know the truth though. It's an extremely powerful motivator.
However, that was nothing compared to his results yesterday. He and I had previously discussed testing strategies and I suggested he test someone upstream to isolate where the break in the line occurred. Apparently he thought about that but decided to begin with his brother because he had easy access to him.
His brother does match the Estes ancestral haplotype. To say this man is upset is an understatement. To make matters worse for him, his father was a minister and his mother a ministers wife. He has one living aunt left and he called her and asked questions but she was less than cooperative. She is also very elderly, so I'm not sure how much to read into that. Most people don't really want bad or embarrassing news about their family members anyway.
I'm trying to vacation and I don't have my passwords with me, so I don't have full access to anything - so of course this would happen now.
I spoke with him for a long time last night on the phone. He spoke of betrayal, anger at being deceived, feeling "dirty", and more. Thankfully he wasn't suicidal or threating to change his name (one other person did that one time). He also spoke of shame and embarrassment. I talked to him about the fact that that it may have been nonconsentual sex and about other social factors. I told him how many women are molested or worse and never report it to anyone, feeling dirty themselves. I did everything I could for this man.
However, the fact remains that the testing he entered into in order to link his Estes ancestors to their ancestors, to further his hobby he loves in the family he loves, has turned upon him and cast him out of the tree. This man's voice was cracking last night as he told me how he has wasted 30 years on his Estes research and now he doesn't know what to do with it, or who half of his genealogy really is or even who or how to research. He doesn't even know who his father is and his perception of his mother has changed forever, and he may never really know the answer of who or why. This has turned into a nightmare odessy for him.
But he still wants to know "who he is", so we are proceeding as follows:
1. I have suggested that he order a second kit for 12 markers and we verify his results. A lab error could have occurred. At this point, I pray it occurred. He says the waiting is killing him.
2. He is going to test another brother's DNA.
3. He was a "dead ringer" for his brother who died in April of this year. That brother bleed on the wall in the garage before he died and I'll be contact Thomas Krahn shortly to see if that is feasible to extract or not. Yes, I know about contamination.
4. There is a an uncle, "a very mean man", who supposedly tried to force himself on his mother (it was her brother-in-law) when she was a teenager. There is some suspicion that he might have succeeded some years later. This man is long dead as are his sons but two of his grandsons are living. I have already checked for a surname study for Veal and none exists. It looks to be a name that might haves changed from something else.
5. I suggested he have a mtdna test against his brother to be sure he isn't adopted, especially given his familys involvement with a churce. It wouldn't be the first time the preacher raised an orphan.
6. I suggested that he not yet "tell the world", i.e. his kids, until he has the confirming DNA test results from his own second test.
As a surname administrator, I feel quite competent to deal with the DNA aspects of this - but I must admit that I absolutely hate it when these emotional issues arise and I feel particular ill equiped to deal with them. These things deal with the most fundamental issues of humanity - our self-identity. These people enter into this testing to further discover "who they are" only to discover they aren't who they thought they were. Instead of moving forward, they took a giant leap backwards. I guess the worse part of it is that they may never discover the answer to the question that this testing introduced. At least he has a chance since it was his generation. And yes, both of his parents are dead.
One might argue that finding the truth is not moving backwards, and while we could discuss the philosophy of that forever, the painful reality is that this hobby has caused this man, and possibly the rest of his family immense pain. He said to me last night, "You asked me if I was prepared for whatever the testing might show, and you even mentioned this possibility, and I said I was prepared, and I thought I was, but you can never be prepared for this and all that it brings with it. I thought I was but I wasn't. I just never thought it would be "me"."
Thankfully, this man was very nice, not angry. And when I asked him if he was sorry he started this series of Pandora's box opening tests, he said that he's strong enough to deal with it and that he would do it over. Kind of an odd response, but spoken as a true genealogical warrior. I would wager that most people would have a different answer. Over time, his answer may change too.
I'm kind of at a loss here beyond what I've said. I'd surely like to know what any geneticists or folks who deal with this professionally say in similar situations. I feel like I'm bumbling along in the counseling area, and I feel thoroughly incompetent and unable to say anything at all to bring this man any comfort. I truely don't know what I would do if he were distraught to the level of possible self-injury. I have had a couple goofy people in these projects and I shudder to think if the results had been theirs.
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