The Reluctant DNA Match

We’ve all been there. You open up your account and see new DNA matches. You find one that is relatively close. You excitedly jot off a note, explaining who you are, what you believe the relationship is (if you know it) or how you might be related, and your willingness to share information. Then you sit back to wait for a response. And wait. And wait. And wait. But there are things we can do while waiting.

I am in that situation currently with a second cousin match. I know all my second cousins, but there were three possibilities I saw for the origin of this match. The DNA match was known only by the initials A.L. There was no tree for this match, which is managed by a Mexican woman about my age. She had her own tree online, showing she had a husband and three sons. This led me to theorize that the connection might be on my Leclerc side. My paternal great-grandfather was a womanizer. Married five times (and only the universe knows how many women he was “involved with”), it would not be a surprise to discover that he had fathered an unknown child. I’ve always thought that it would only be a matter of time before I got a DNA match to a heretofore unknown descendant.

It is important to keep checking back on your DNA matches, even if you don’t hear from them. You never know when additional information might become available. Although a tree still has not been uploaded for my match, Ancestry recently added very helpful new features. They made a huge difference for me, and showed me unequivocally that my original assumption was wrong. The connection was through my paternal grandmother!

My grandmother had eight siblings. Two died as infants. One was gay and unlikely to have left any descendants. Two others married but left no children. Two more married and left children. The primary candidate is the eldest surviving son, Abel Dube. 

Born in 1901, Abel had a troubled life. His first run-in with the law happened in 1918. He continued to commit minor criminal offences (mostly breaking and entering or larceny charges) for the next 25 years. The last official record I have for him is a federal prison sentence in 1943. 

He disappears after that. And the surviving family members do not know what happened to him. It is very possible that he left New England. He is the most likely candidate to be the grandfather of my DNA match. 

Questions remain. Is the connection through the father or the mother of the match? What were the conditions of that person’s conception and birth? Is the match aware of the family history? Did Uncle Arthur sleep with a woman and father a child even though he was gay? Did Uncle Alfred father an unknown child prior to marrying his wife? I find it doubtful that one of the girls could have given birth without family members knowing about it. 

I sent another email, showing that the connection through the Dube family. Knowing that no matter which child was the parent, there must have been sensitive issues about it, and I commented on it. I expressed a willingness to share information and photographs of our great-grandparents. 

Remember that these individuals don’t know you. The reasons for them not contacting you have everything to do with them and their experiences. Also remember that many people who test their DNA are doing so to find out their ethnic backgrounds and may have little interest in getting in touch with living relatives. 

I understand the sensitivities involved, and why the match may be reluctant to come forward. I copied all the information I could find about the match, just in case it is taken down without a response. And now I wait. And wait. And wait. Hopefully the name of my match is not Godot.

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