DNA tests prove his father was not his father, and his grandfather was not his grandfather

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

As DNA becomes more common, people are finding big surprises about who their real parents were. In this case, a researcher finds out that his mom had a brief affair with a neighbor, who turned out to be his real dad, and his mom’s nominal father was not, in fact, her father. That is a lot of lying about parentage in just 2 generations.

Identifying my biological father was a key first step in overcoming my sense of being untethered. He had died, but I discovered five new amazing half-siblings and many new cousins. Not knowing my origins had led me to a profound need for connectedness, and given me a voracious appetite for gaining family connections. In the past 18 months I have thus far identified 150 DNA-validated living family members and built a family tree of more than 2,500 ancestors. They go as far back as my maternal great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Emashapa Panyouasas, the daughter of the chief of the Choctaw Nation in the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the early eighteenth century.

Emashapa explains a large chunk of Native American DNA on my chromosome 17. But along that path, something puzzling arose that gained clarity only over time. Emashapa, for example, could not possibly have had Hungarian (paternal grandfather) or Irish (paternal grandmother) origins, and any link to Cajuns would seem tenuous at best. Indeed, a sizable subset of my DNA relatives simply made no sense—until I considered that the man described as my mother’s father (my maternal grandfather, Henry, conveniently alleged by my maternal grandmother, Connie, to have died immediately prior to my mother’s birth) was in fact not her biological father.

I’ve learned how my grandfather, the moonshiner, purportedly on the run after killing a man in Mississippi, and my grandmother, the prostitute, came together, in a series of highly improbable circumstances. But without this unlikely event, my mother wouldn’t have existed, nor would Renée, Tommy, and I. (I like to think that I won an even more improbable zygote lottery twice!) These circumstances have triggered a fascination with the early- to mid-twentieth-century Mississippi and Louisiana cultures, which were surprisingly separate and distinct in this period preceding facile travel. It has opened my mind to those cultures and their current variants, and offered helpful life lessons as described later.

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