Betty Jean’s adoption search is all in the family. She ended her Adoption search years ago with her family, her husband, by her side. There was nothing to find. Then many, many years later a cousin (me) asked if she could start the process all over again. The physical search itself is all about looking in the nooks an crannies of the Howard/Brotherton family for people living in, or being in, Asheville, NC in 1926/7. The Howard’s and Brotherton’s are the family who hold the clues that will lead to an end to Betty Jean’s adoption search – 90 years after her birth.
Her 1st Cousin Once Removed, The Other Adoptee, Pat
To tell Betty Jean’s story we have to tell a bit about Pat’s story. Pat is a generation or so younger than Betty Jean. She is, like Betty Jean, adopted and looking for her birth family. Pat got a DNA test done in the hopes of the DNA being the key to he mystery. It was/is.
Jane, the Genealogist/Adoption Researcher who is a member of the Howard and Brotherton family, was also her key. But there was another key to Pat’s search, something every adoptee wished they had.
The letter comes from a time before the agency would offer to find birth parents. She paid them a fee to go through the microfiche records to see what non-identifying information existed. It was a weird experience for her to read that letter because of the similarities in some of the her family hobbies.
Subsequent communications from the adoption agency to Pat also gave more information on the birth mother and birth father. Like occupations, religion, height and ultimately what the cause of death was for her birth father – cancer.
The Howard/Brotherton Connection
Why these two families? Because of the number of people who have done DNA testing with strong connections to these two family lines who also match Pat.
Armed with the clues in the Agency’s non-identifying communications, Jane hit the pavement running. Tracking down anyone in the Howard or Brotherton families who were in the professions listed for Pat’s birth parents. She also scoured the geographic locations.
Eventually Jane found Charlotte, NC as the common geographic denominator in the equation. She located a few Brotherton’s who matched the profession of Pat’s birth father. Then worked to determine if one of them could have crossed paths with Pat’s birth mothers profession. She interviewed people who new Pat’s possible birth fathers and anyone else who could give the answer to the questions Jane asked.
I became involved at this point and started hashing out the family connections using the DNA numbers – cM’s (measurement in DNA) of matches and generations to MCRA (most common recent ancestor) estimates, one to one comparisons, one to many comparisons, GEDcom + DNA searches, in common with, not in common with, overlapping segments, triangulation, working the patterns slowly appearing in WikiTree DNA Sanbox, all to whittle down the possible candidates. Whittle is the appropriate word because it wasn’t a BINGO moment, it was slow and deliberate process of elimination. Just like slowly morphing a piece of wood into a shape.
Janes’ work, and my bit of back-up, found the shape that is Pat’s birth father. A Brotherton.
Health and focus
For me Pat’s birth father was circled on my big DNA/Pedigree Chart (the chart I created to help me understand Jane and Pat’s and, soon to be Betty Jean’s, crazy confusing family tree). Somewhere in that tangled mess of limbs lay Betty Jean’s birth something.
At about the same time, just as Pat’s father was confirmed, Betty Jean contacted me with some worries about her health. Doctors visits and traveling for appointments were in her very near future. Betty Jean was nearly 90, and I didn’t know how serious her health issues might be, so we, Jane and I, turned the majority of our focus toward the work to find Betty Jean’s birth family.