So a couple of years ago, I told you that I’d found my great-grandfather’s only living direct line grandson during a trip to Vancouver Island. At that time when I’d contacted him, he had refused to do a DNA test.
I understood .. or at least I thought I did. When Leonard’s parents had split up back in the 50′, Leonard and his mother hadn’t had any interaction with my part of the family for years, so why would he have any feelings about us, and why would he want to help me out?
So in the past couple of years, every so often, I would find family photos, and I’d send them to Leonard and his wife. Hoping that he would start to feel a connection to the family and possibly he would reconsider.
This past August, I was going to my niece’s wedding, and again, I found myself going to Vancouver Island. So I decided I’d give it one more try.
I sent a registered letter to the address I had and asked if he and his wife would consider meeting me. I provided my photo number and the dates that I would be available.
The wedding came and went, and I never got a call, so I came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t going to happen.
Then one day in September, I got a call. It was from Leonard’s daughter. She asked if I’d come to her home and meet her mother. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I stumbled and stuttered, and I agreed and hung up thinking that his daughter must think I was strange.
I met Ann and her daughter, and it was such an incredible meeting. Ann explained that Leonard had died in June, and when she received my letter, she wasn’t up to speaking to me then. But she had come for a visit, and she wanted to talk to me and explain why her husband had never agreed to a DNA test.
She told the story that when Leonard’s parents had split up that it hadn’t been an easy breakup and that her father-in-law had said hurtful things to his wife. Things that had made Leonard wonder if he was, in fact, his father’s son. I’m not going to get into the language but it wasn’t nice.
So when I asked Leonard to do a DNA test, and he had refused to do it, it wasn’t because he didn’t feel a family connection, but rather that Leonard was afraid that it would confirm his fear that his father wasn’t his father and that he wasn’t a Beaton.
Being a good genetic genealogist, I’d brought along a DNA kit and I asked Leonard’s daughter if she would consider doing a DNA test? She said, sure because she wanted to put her father’s question to rest and find out the truth. At the time, I said that it would be great to get a new cousin match but sad at the same time because that would mean that her father had worried all his life for no reason.
A few weeks ago, I got a new cousin match. As I had thought, I was happy and sad at the same time. I gave my new-found cousin a call and explained what her DNA was showing and that her father was indeed a Beaton.
I was happy that when I asked, she agreed to give me access to her DNA so that I could see matches that might connect to her that didn’t connect to me.
I guess the lesson learned is that you may think you know the reason why someone won’t take a DNA test, but you may be wrong. It also made me realize that even though our families hadn’t connected for many years, perseverance in sending the cards did reopen that family relationship, and that’s priceless.