Feelings, wo-o-o Feelings…

by Laura

So.  I now had some proof that my birthMother is Charlotte McManus, from New York. My previous research had given me some family members, mentioned within Charlotte’s Buffalo, NY obituary back in 2002.

I kept at it on Ancestry, building trees, and looking for family connections. Charlotte’s Mom, my Grandmother(!), was Ellen Cassidy. Her Mom, my Great-Grandmother, was Catherine Maguire. Census records, immigration records, and marriage and birth records…all online…indicated that Catherine had emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland to Chicago with her Husband and children, back in 1912. Ellen had been born in Glasgow, emigrated with her family in 1912, and was married, in Chicago, in 1920.

Chicago. My birthplace and my home. A thought occurred to me:  when Charlotte fell pregnant, she must have gone to stay with her Grandma in Chicago. It made sense, especially in the 1950s, for a young, unmarried, pregnant woman to “visit family” as a means to hide her pregnancy, and release the child for adoption. Catherine’s personal story, which I was also discovering, made this more than possible.

This is where another DNA match became important. “leenie08”, also from the Chicago area, was also related to Catherine Maguire. Whilst Catherine was my Great-Grandmother, she was “leenie08″‘s Great-Aunt.  She and I share 2ndGreat-Grandparents…who had emigrated from Ireland to Scotland sometime before the 1870s.

Dots were beginning to connect.

And I was, suddenly, feeling very vulnerable, very overwhelmed by the information I was gathering, and the way it was beginning to fit together. The sort of family research I do is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces had to be found by means of a scavenger hunt. It was exhausting, especially reading the 100+ years old, online, digitalised photos of hand-written records from Ireland, England, and Scotland.

I felt quite lost in it all. I was emotionally raw; achey and tired from being hunched over my computer for hours and days on end.

But I was also focused and determined. I may not have looked for this journey, but here I was…and I was going to finish it, dammit. I joined a couple of Yahoo Groups dedicated to aiding newbies to genetic genealogy as well as helping adoptees use this “new” science to find their families. By now, I knew I had a half-sister and two half-brothers. I had nieces and nephews. They were all still in the same place Charlotte had lived for all but 6 months or so of her life.  They were right there…and I didn’t know what to do, or how to do it.

The more sceptical, perhaps cynical, and infinitely less involved folk in my life cautioned me:  they (my newly-discovered family) will think you are looking for something from them (inheritance?), they said to me; after all, “I” (these less emotionally-invested folk) knew they would feel that way. This rather stunned me, because it never occurred to me that folk might think like that. I know I wouldn’t. I’m adopted, right? All my life, I have thought about “what if…”. So, in a way, I was conditioned, pre-disposed, to accept possible claims of long-lost relatives, even as risky as that might be (which I recognised as being a valid concern).

I accepted their caution, even though I had problems with this train of thought. I continued to work carefully, around the edges, whilst still driving towards finding my birthFather.

I keenly felt this now named and not-so-faceless (I was beginning to find pictures of folk online) loss of family. I wanted to learn as much as I could about this new-to-me family. We were a part of each other. Whilst I now knew who they were and where they lived, I was outside…apart…wrestling with fears of rejection, massive change in my identity and how I though about myself, grief, depression, and incredible delight.

Mia Famiglia. Now what?