Category Archives: Adoption Genealogy

Mirror Trees Really Do Work

I gave compelling evidence in The Biological Father of my Foundling Ancestor that William Norsworthy Gordon is my great grandfather.  A living direct descendant of  William N. Gordon agreed to take a DNA test, and the results have arrived. The descendant is a granddaughter of William Norsworthy, and if my theory is correct, her father would be my grandfather’s half-brother.  Her DNA matched 306 centiMorgans (cM) and 22 segments with my mother. According to Blaine Bettinger’s shared cM relationship chart (see below), this DNA match fits in the 1st to 2nd cousin range. This is the range that I expected, and proves that I really have found my biological great- grandfather, and that  mirror trees really do work. Continue reading Mirror Trees Really Do Work

I Have Created a Mirror Tree, Now What?

MirrorTree Part 2

The real work with mirror trees is not in creating them, but what you do with them once they are created. If you have created a mirror tree, and do not know how to use it to discover those hard-to-find family members, then you are at the right blog. Continue reading I Have Created a Mirror Tree, Now What?

How to build a Mirror Tree

Mirror Tree Blog Post1

After exploring mirror trees with the main roadblock of my family tree (my foundling grandfather), I now have a better understanding  of what a mirror tree is, and how useful it can be  for revealing ancestors that left incomplete paper trails. Mirror trees offer a method for organizing genetic DNA matches to help those with unknown ancestors (adoptees, orphans and foundlings) identify biological ancestors.

Here are  five steps to create a mirror tree:

Continue reading How to build a Mirror Tree

The biological father of my foundling ancestor?

I think I have found the biological father of my grandfather, Dwight Willard, who was abandoned as a newborn at a charitable orphanage organization in San Francisco in 1920. The man I believe to be my Great Grandfather is William Norsworthy Gordon, son of Robert Edward Gordon and Emma Norsworthy.  He was born in Texas which is where all of his siblings and ancestors remained, but uncanny circumstances brought him to California when he was a young boy. Continue reading The biological father of my foundling ancestor?

A Y-DNA Revelation


My Mother’s brother took the Family Tree Y-DNA test so we could find clues on the paternal family of my adopted grandfather, Dwight Willard.  He has been the largest brick wall in my family tree since absolutely nothing is known of his biological parents.  The y chromosome is passed from father to son practically unchanged, so I thought the Y-DNA test would be the best chance for me to find my grandfather’s biological surname, and may even connect me to direct family members. Since only men have the y chromosome, I was unable to take the test myself, but am so fortunate that my mother has a brother, and that he was willing to take the test. Continue reading A Y-DNA Revelation

Mirror Mirror on the Tree

Photo from
Photo from

I have recently joined a great Facebook Group called DNA Detectives that I believe was started by Cece Moore one of the genealogists on Genealogy Roadshow. It is a group dedicated for those using DNA to locate biological family of adoptees.  Besides being inspired from all of the posts from those that have connected with lost family members,  I have gotten a lot of great ideas for new research strategies for finding my grandfather’s biological family. Continue reading Mirror Mirror on the Tree

The Genetic World is Small


Do you ever have those synchronistic moments when you know that you just experienced something prolific or are about to?  When an ordinary experience catches you off guard with its extraordinariness?  I was fortunate to have one of these special moments last week in the break room at work. I work in the same building with another genealogist enthusiast.   Occasionally we bump into each other in the shared kitchen, and share a brief summary of the genealogy discoveries that we have had since our last encounter.  Well, this week our updates took a very interesting turn when we realized that we possible shared a genetic cousin. Continue reading The Genetic World is Small

Surprised By My DNA

Science suggests that we inherit half of our DNA from the mother and half from the father.  I already have the DNA results for both of my parents, and had expected to be a fairly equal blend between the two of them.  Well, this is not what I found in my Ancestry DNA results.  Both of my parents have European descent with my mother calculated as 100% European, and my father 98%.  My DNA revealed that I am also near 100% European, but the percentage break down of the various European ethnicities is what surprised me. Continue reading Surprised By My DNA

Unraveling the Secret



Thinking that I knew all there was to know about my recent generation ancestors, I have been focusing my research on the distant past. Today I unraveled a family secret. My maternal great-great grandfather, William Frederick Holdsworth, was adopted. Continue reading Unraveling the Secret

Is Circumstantial Evidence Enough?

I have found great circumstantial evidence suggesting the possibility that Elizabeth Johnston is the mother of my adopted grandfather Dwight Willard, but there are still a few more questions I need answered to increase the confidence of this relationship. Through I was able to locate a living descendant of Elizabeth, and sent an email asking if they knew:

  1. When Elizabeth moved to San Francisco
  2. What happened to Elizabeth’s second daughter (Onita Frances Stewart)
  3. If any other descendants had taken the Ancestry DNA test.

Knowing the answers to these questions will lead me closer to either proving or disproving the relationship between Elizabeth and Dwight. Continue reading Is Circumstantial Evidence Enough?