The DNA Test

I, like many people who were parented by a stepparent, felt that they could not look for or seek out their biological parent until the stepparent had passed away in order not to hurt any feelings.  

I know that’s what I did with my stepdad, Butch. He was the greatest guy, and the only dad I knew from the age of 10. I felt that seeking out my biological father would somehow hurt his feelings or make his role in my life feel somehow diminished or less impactful or important. Because that could not have been further from the truth, I felt that out of respect and love of my step-dad, finding Rick Wood was not a priority. 

Then I found out that Rick died in 2015 and I had wished I had felt differently earlier and began looking for him sooner. My naïve-self believed that he could’ve somehow unlocked a treasure trove of answers for me about the why, when, what and who that only he could tell me about himself and his life after 1972. I would find out that I couldn’t have been further from the truth and I couldn’t have been more naïve. 

As I got older I realized that I knew so much about my mother’s side of the family, the great grandmother I am named after, the family story and lineage, it had all been told to me over the years, and my mother was just a phone call away if I had a new question. 

As for my father’s side, I knew very little, not only about him, but about his people. And even then it was what my mother could tell me about what she remembered about them and what she remembered him telling her about them. 

In looking for him, I began to wonder more about myself – Who was I? And how did his not being in my life both negatively and positively affect me and the course of my life; the life that I chose to live as an adult? All valid questions that only I could answer, based on my own history and my own feelings, and yet the gray areas were still there. 

I made the decision to do a DNA test through Ancestry.com. While I knew that I already KNEW who my father and mother are, I was hoping to find some of his relatives, as he had five siblings, one of which I actually recall meeting when I was 5 years old, Uncle Don. 

My uncle and his wife came to Alaska to visit once and they had a son, Randall who was 8 or 9 at the time. The most vivid memories I have of their stay was wandering out into the living room of our double-wide trailer early on the first morning and seeing, propped against the end of the fold out couch where they were sleeping, a full-size, off-skin color, prosthetic leg, that was nearly as tall as I was. I don’t remember if it frightened or fascinated me, but it is a tiny puzzle piece to a larger picture which I want to complete. What happened to them? Where is my cousin, Randall, who on that same visit fell off the top bunk bed and crushed my Snoopy trashcan under his landing? What became of him? 

I believed that submitting my DNA would at least put me in touch with someone who could get me going in the right direction. 

What I got in return was far more than I ever anticipated.  

It all started with a family member hit - a 2nd cousin on my father’s side. I received a message and an inquiry, the author informed me that his DNA test had come back and listed me as a relative.  

Interesting, I thought, and messaged back that the first step would be to determine on which side of my family were he and I related. His messaged back that I was not his only family member DNA hit, and that he also had a hit for his father, someone with the screen name of ‘Ponysboy’. 

I was immediately taken aback…Ponysboy is/was MY father.