Without DNA I don’t think I would be telling you about CeCe Moore and my story of finding both paternal and maternal family. CeCe is a world renowned genetic genealogist, DNA expert and founder of DNA Detectives. When my story started to unleash it was CeCe that was unravelling the layers of DNA. Working hours upon hours to figure out my blood lines through two close cousins both named Amy , how ironic! Sometimes it’s necessary to involve a professional in cases like mine so CeCe offered her services probono. I had DNA kits donated to me by DNA Detectives, (Kits of Kindness program), to help support my quest in biological family.
In August of 2016 I matched to a predicted 2nd – 3rd cousin, named Amy on Ancestry who shared about 3.5% of my DNA. Amy had very limited genealogical information available but we knew right away that since she didn’t match my maternal half-sister, she was related to my paternal side… I was so excited that I messaged right away. On a whim, wish and a prayer I explained the situation to Amy with my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t hang up. I knew Amy was my link and held this power unknowingly. Little did I know how genuine and loving Amy is and without hesitation she agreed to work with CeCe to try and figure out who my biological Dad was.
Amy is a member of the Tahltan First Nations so the analysis required extensive research into the tribe, using census records on Ancestry and gathering genealogical information from additional online resources to build the match’s family tree back to her great grandparents. By using my ethnicity estimate and the amount of Native DNA, CeCe was able to zero in on one particular family that fit the ethnic profile of both Native and Norwegian ancestry. After many hours of work and much research on the family, we had a potential father or uncle, I had a name!
I went home from work that evening, sat on my patio and dialed his number. Can you imagine being the person on the other end of that conversation? I had guidance on what to say, wrote it all down and even practiced my spiel. DNA is not easy to explain, let alone figure out most times. After about 15 minutes my rehearsed monologue of how this came to be went out the window. I could tell when speaking to Brian that I just needed to be genuine and he would be receptive. We spoke for a while about this story, my life and what I wanted from it. The only motive I’ve ever had was to find family and build relationships. Which is good because his response was, "what do you want from me, I don't have any money". I agreed that I didn't either and we should just move forward with family! It was a funny moment. My ancestors were very family oriented and instilled that in my paternal side, other than being raised that way, perhaps that’s where I get some of my loyalty and commitment to family? It didn’t take long for Brian to agree to speak to CeCe; after all she was the expert and the one that could concretely explain how she came to the Mostad’s as a potential father. I received a call from Brian a day later saying he would agree to take a DNA test, if he wasn’t my father it would show how we were related. Brian knew in his heart that Barry was my father but he wanted to see the results before speaking to anyone. Once again, CeCe donated an Ancestry kit from her DNA Detectives Kits of Kindness program; he provided his sample and off it went down south.
I can’t explain the feelings you have when anticipating something so surreal. I never imagined I would find this, that I would be so close to actually knowing where I came from. Yes, I had found siblings and that was, and still is amazing but it’s not the same as finding out your roots. Thankfully CeCe was able to get the results expedited but that still took 4 weeks. As we both anxiously awaited I had a DNA match come in from Family Tree DNA that was a close non-native match that confirmed we had the right family. As the time got closer for the results to come in, I agreed to take a step back and not look. I wanted to give Brian the opportunity to see it first and call me with the results. We hadn’t spoken in a while so I knew that the next call I got from him was going to change my life forever!
It was a Sunday morning at 10 AM as I was cleaning my kitchen when the phone rang, it was Brian. I looked at Gord (husband), took a deep breath and went to my patio so it would be quiet. After the pleasantries, he said “well my dear, I’m your uncle, and I’m sure Barry is your pops, welcome to the family”. I just cried, flooded with emotions. What if Barry wouldn’t agree to test, what if I was rejected? They are silly thoughts now as I know the family and that Barry would never do that, but they are a natural response in a journey such as this. Then I realized, I know where I’m from, I have history! Everything I had accepted not knowing about is now a reality, I could ask all the questions I wanted and that I did.
Now that we had results and Brian was certain through DNA that he was my uncle, it was time for him to call Barry. That evening at 7:15 Barry called me. You could hear the excitement in his voice but we were also feeling disappointment. Disappointed those 40 years had gone past and we never knew a thing. My biological mother had taken that away from us, but without it, I would have never had the life I do, so for that I’m thankful! The conversation was so easy and smooth, very organic. We decided that two weeks later I was going to do a trip up north to meet in person, along with me I would bring a DNA kit donated by AncestryDNA. Like every other instance, CeCe again offered her services to analyse the DNA and confirm he was my paternal parent. Barry (pops) and I have a great relationship that we continue to work on. I have roots, I’m now the oldest of 6 brothers, two sisters and 3 wonderful sisters in laws, not to mention all my fantastic Aunts, Uncles and cousins on both sides, my family has exploded! This is all thanks to CeCe and her work; I couldn’t have done it without her. It wasn’t just about knowing how to figure out the DNA, it was also the reputation as an expert that gave my Uncle Brian comfort to initially move forward. We accredit this find, my truth to biological family to her.
CeCe also gave support for my biological mother’s side. My half-sister and I had a first cousin match, Amy, on 23andMe. The problem was that Amy’s DNA was on a different platform than ours. 23andMe upgraded their site and you were required to go in and accept new terms and conditions, Amy hadn’t done that so her profile wasn’t accessible. CeCe contacted 23andMe and convinced them to allow me to resubmit my DNA into the old system which would allow us to contact our 1st cousin match. Again this DNA kit was donated – this time from 23andMe. This was an extremely essential piece to our connection. We had a match but no way of contacting her, finding out who she was or ultimately finding our bio mom. Once we had the name and connection, my maternal half- sister continued from there. Unfortunately, our bio mom, Patricia, had passed away only a few short months prior to discovering who she was. We were able to confirm her as our biological mother through testing DNA with a half -brother she raised.
I feel it important to say that I have really lucked out with DNA. The reality is that not everyone who is searching for biological family will receive close family matches in the DNA databases and immediately resolve their case, especially among Canadians. It is still possible to identify the birth family from more distant matches with assistance and guidance from experts in the field. Anyone who is searching should take advantage of free online resources to help guide them, such as the DNA Detectives Facebook group.
I’m expressing my gratitude to many people that had a key role in making this prosperous. I’ve certainly learned a lot about my heritage and where I’m from and been reunited with my family. My husband and kids have been my rock and without their blessing, I would have passed this by. I thank my mom and dad for their support over the years and for raising me to be a strong woman. It was that strength and the right timing that opened my mind and soul to successfully pursue this journey. Of course I can’t forget my friends that have listened hours on end to the ever changing story, good and bad, I’ve had so much support. The Mostad’s (Paternal) and Johansen’s (Maternal) are wonderful people and I’m blessed to be a part of their lives and we will continue to spend time together, laugh, cry and make up for lost time.
We unleashed the power of DNA!
Thank you to everyone for your continued support.