At Long Last I Have Family
I got an email from Kevin a few days ago. He matched the Y-DNA test with my brother on FamilyTreeDNA. He’s a close match, too. He is one of my Irish cousins. We spent some time trying to figure out exactly how my ancestor is connected to his. When did my immigrant grandfather who left Ireland in 1780 branch off from his family?
I thought the answer was obvious. I’m an amateur genealogist. Kevin is the real thing. He quickly disabused me of any notion that my identified immigrant ancestor was actually who I thought he was. But that is neither here nor there.
After numerous exchanged messages, we decided to speak on the phone. He was everything I hoped he would be. The relative I’ve never had. I gingerly told him that his cousin, my father, had had schizoaffective disorder. He gently responded that it must have been very hard to grow up with a father suffering from this condition. He, himself, had a cousin with schizophrenia.
Perhaps, I thought, this cousin was related to us? Is this the genetic connection? I pondered the question aloud to Kevin. He didn’t know the extent to which this sort of thing was genetic. I do. It is highly heritable. Our family is so small, we just never knew anyone else in it with this affliction.
The family I grew up with reacted with nothing but stigma. They rejected our family and made us feel like we were nothing. Here was a new family member offering me empathy and understanding. My eyes started to blur and sting with tears as I talked to him.
This book excerpt tells the story of what happened with my actual family:
I had to go outside the United States to find them but I found family who accepts us and values us. I have a sense of peace right now I haven’t had in a long time. It really does help to connect with your roots.
This story tells more about our family’s isolation: