When I first started doing DNA testing and connecting the dots of my new cousins I had visions of the kind of family reunions you read about in Women’s Day. 100 people with matching family T-shirts grilling hot dogs and eating watermelon in a big park somewhere. Bulletin boards cluttered with family photos and three-legged sack races. Well, it didn’t take long to peel the rose-colored layer off my glasses. Not everyone was happy to hear from me.
Many people with strong DNA matches never responded to my inquiries. I guess it’s a “thing” to get your DNA tested and see what percentage of you is Irish, never mind actually following up on who you might be related to.
After sending an email to a second cousin who it took me months to locate, his wife told him that my email was spam and that I was probably looking for money. Fortunately he didn’t listen to her and wrote me back; connecting me to two other 2nd cousins that live nearby. We have all been in communication and my brother recently had brunch with all of them while visiting in their country. That worked out well.
I was so excited to discover another branch of my family that I called a new cousin’s house too many times only to learn that they blocked my phone. Apparently they weren’t as excited as I was to find new relatives. But that’s okay too. I’m realizing that for reasons unique to each family, not everyone wants to play the genealogy game. One of my cousins said to me, “they’re just dead people.”
But on the flip-side, I have discovered many other new cousins that are just as excited to know me and participate in the exploration of who we are as a family. They are generous with their time and often with financial donations to help cover the cost of DNA tests and the purchasing of records from archives. They send me beautiful cards, emails or messages on Facebook and Instagram, letting me know they appreciate the research I am doing and the knowledge I am uncovering. They know that while I am doing this for my own curiosity, ultimately we will all benefit from it.