2nd Cousin DNA Match Explained

Sometimes working with our DNA and our genealogy, we find an “oops” that makes our brains stumble. Mysteries of that sort usually keep me up late, wake me up early, and nag me until I’ve figured it out to its logical conclusion. This is about one of those mysteries.

Going through my DNA Matches recently I came across a 2nd Cousin with two separate trees: One for a family tree that in no way related to mine and a second with only one individual. The individual in the tree was a single female, her date of birth and date of death. It occurred to me that this cousin, Gary, was adopted.

I corresponded with Gary, got what info he had, and confirmed that he was definitely adopted during his first or second year on earth. The state of New York had opened adoption records to adoptees in recent years and he had discovered who his mother was. He was able to work her tree back a couple of generations.

That left the problem of discerning who his father was – undoubtedly someone out of my family. Gary revealed that he had been in contact with a DNA Match in common. “KH” had revealed that it “could have been” this person or that so I looked at her tree. I have known for years how we were related but it was so seemingly insignificant that I’d forgotten. There in her tree was the info I was looking for: Information that Gary needed to answer his questions about his paternity and the mystery that nagged me for several days.

Sure enough, Gary is indeed a member of my extended McGrew family: His paternal grandmother was a sister to my great-grandfather, Homer McGrew. Blanche had married a Higginbotham and moved to New York State back in the ’30s and lived in the town where Gary’s mother lived. One of Blanche’s sons fathered a child but we’ll never know if he or Blanche knew about Gary or not. I’m thinking “not.”

That got my curiosity in the Higginbotham family going pretty strong and, OH, the things I learned! But that is for another blog post.

What of my new-found 2nd Cousin Gary? He had a wonderful life with loving parents although his mom died when he was young. Still, it sounded as if he never wanted for much. He’d grown up knowing he was adopted and loved and wanted so it had not left him with the burning questions that some adoptees have. If he never learned who his parents were, it would be OK with him, he said: It was just a question. We spoke by phone for an hour and a half. He is probably the calmest adoptee and/or newly realized family member I’ve ever spoken to. I’m happy that we were able to collaborate on this project together – more so to satisfy my curiosity than his.

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