Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Adopting That Sulky Attitude

I'm about to nurse that "I'm Adopted" grudge. You know, the kind you afforded yourself long ago, every time your childhood sense of equity was violated.

C'mon, now, 'fess up: you've indulged in it, too. Remember that time, when dinner was done and all the other kids got to run off and play, but you had to sit there...because you hadn't finished your broccoli? Yeah, that time. You decided nobody really loved you. You just knew you were adopted.

Or the time when the extended family decided it was such a lovely summer evening that they'd have dinner out back on the picnic table—only afterwards, you had to stay behind and help with the dishes.

See? It just wasn't fair. It must have meant something. Yeah, you were adopted.

And so it goes. We're all well past that sulky stage of childhood, and yet that mood sometimes catches up with us, even now.

At least, I know that's true for me right now. Remember my gleeful discovery, last week, of a document that was sure to lead me past my paternal brick wall? Well, yesterday, I took the time to sit down and look up all those names on Aunt Rose's marriage certificate. I checked out her father, Julius Krauss. I looked for her mother, using Anna Zegar, the maiden name provided on the marriage record.

Do you think I actually found anything?

Of course not.

Stuck, I kept that sulky mood at bay by a brilliant realization: I had my brother's Y-DNA test done. After all, if Rose was really my paternal grandfather's sister, her father would be part of our patrilineal line. Maybe those surnames would pop up somewhere on my brother's Y-DNA results. Or maybe even on his autosomal DNA test.

I pulled up my brother's DNA test results. After all, though he doesn't yet have any "exact match" results for his Y-DNA, he is closing in on 400 matches on his autosomal test. Surely someone on that list of hundreds would have one of those surnames in their records.


I switched over to my own DNA test results. If you've kept up on my bi-monthly statistic reports, you already know how many matches I have in my own file—but if you don't, I'd be more than happy to tell you that my own tally is closing in on 880.

Did you think I'd find any Zegars or Krauses there?

Of course not.

Actually, with precious few of those "matches" turning out to be real, documented familial connections, I'm beginning to get to feeling as if I really was adopted. Who are all those people in my DNA test results? Why do none of those DNA results seem to line up with my painstakingly extensive documentation?

Not that I want to minimize the agony experienced by those who really are adopted and have that deep yearning to know their roots. Witness the two "mystery cousins" I'm currently working with, who have had that inexplicable drive to find out what their birth heritage really is. In comparison, I really am nursing a childish sulk. But I'm frustrated, nonetheless.

Then, too, I have to keep in mind that my oldest cousin had warned me that our paternal grandfather had once told him that he—Theodore J. Puhalski or John T. McCann or whoever he really was—was adopted, himself.

I had always thought that surely, my grandfather had only meant that his parents had died when he was young, and another family member had taken him in. After all, we are talking about a childhood during the late 1800s, when that sort of arrangement was customary.

But I thought I could figure a way around that roadblock. Perhaps I can't. As frustrating as it is, I may have to concede defeat. There are just some genealogical secrets that may remain just that: secrets. No matter how much of a tantrum I throw in my retreat into that sulky haven, I can't coax some details from the lips of those long departed. Nor can those secrets get extracted from the documents of foreign lands—or even the reticent bureaucrats of New York City.

Even in the face of the most petulant childish pout, the answer for a genealogical researcher may simply be just "No."


  1. Not on thread but, my younger brother and I are often asked if we are twins - and our stock reply is to say the other one of us was adopted.

    If McCann/Puhalski was adopted... it would even further make a dark black hole when it comes to determining just who he was... :(

    1. Hilarious, Iggy! Love that sense of humor.

      As for that black hole of paternal origins, I kept hoping that pursuing Aunt Rose's history would lead to a connection with Theodore/John's original family. Julius, Rose's father (if that certificate was correct) seemed to be a promising key to open up possibilities.

      While I'll still revisit this loose strand at some point, I've found that laying research goals aside when I encounter impenetrable brick walls is not really giving up. At some point, there is bound to be another digitization project that puts just the document I need online in a collection.

      Sometimes, the best research strategy is to simply wait for a more opportune time.

      In the meantime, there are other projects awaiting our attention...

  2. I used to think I was adopted too...but alas I wasn't. I used to dream about it! Ever the adventurer!
    Patience is a virtue and you seem to have it...brick wall here...go onto something else! :)

    1. Yeah, that's what I want to do: go on to something else. But what? I'm running out of greener pastures. Feel like I'm surrounded by brick walls!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...