Stalking Facebook

by Laura

As Summer gave way to Autumn, and the research continued, unabated, I finally gave in and searched on Facebook for some of the names I had found. This was not an easy decision for me. I value privacy and, even though the stated purpose, the intent of Facebook is to connect, well, everyone…literally!…I felt as if I was playing the Peeping Tom. Of course, in my more pragmatic moments, I reckoned that anyone who didn’t want any unwanted visitors could change their Facebook parameters to reflect that. I had my profile set up to do just that as far as I was able given the constantly changing Facebook “security” updates. But at the end of the day, my curiosity got the better of me and, following the constant admonition from my DNA Yahoo groups to “search on Facebook”, I did just that.

And there they were. My family.

I readily found my half-sister and my half-brothers. Now the issue became, how to go beyond Facebook stalking to actual conversation; real connection. I composed dozens of messages, trying to ease into the whole, “Hi! I’m your adopted-out Sister!” and never could get it down. I deleted every  one of them, my heart-pounding and my palms sweating.

I walked away from trying. I wrestled with the overwhelming desire to make myself known to them, and a competing overwhelming fear of rejection; of opening the proverbial can of worms. I had promised to not do this; to not bother anyone. I was so concerned with hurting them, I had put myself into the untenable position of hurting myself. I swung between elation that this was real, this was true, and deep sadness that we would never find each other. Whilst I had lived my life “knowing” I had people out there, somewhere, with whom I had this visceral connection, I also recognised that they probably knew absolutely nothing about me and would be shaken at the prospect…and might, possibly, take that information and those attendant emotions out on me. Not all “reunions” go well. In fact, many don’t.

What to do, what to do?

So I buried myself into looking for my birthFather as Autumn deepened into Winter. By this time, I had three trees going: my maternal tree, and two paternal trees as I tried to make sense of the DNA matches I had (not to mention my adopted family’s tree!), when Ancestry pulled a mickey and changed their algorithms.

Suddenly, a bunch of my matches disappeared; and I really didn’t have that many.  Now what?!? I had previously loaded my raw DNA file to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), but hadn’t gotten anywhere with them. My closest match, at that time, was 4 generations out. I was also on Gedmatch with similar non-results. Ancestry was and still, today, remains my best option. So I decided to send out bolder and more pertinent messages to the folk whose trees I was most often seeing in my pursuit of family members. But I had learned to NOT use the “a-word”. “Adoption” seemed to scare people off. Understandable, I suppose…although we were talking about a 60-year old “scandal”.

I started hearing back from other, more remote family members. I started to make some connections, although not quite as close as I had hoped. I was getting some family stories and folk were sharing dates and histories and…pictures!!!

Six months had passed since I had received my results. I learnt the outlines. Now, I was learning the details.

Still, I couldn’t help but stalk Facebook and read about my family there, even as I continued to fear what “friending” them could mean…