Dear Annie: Genetic testing can help you discover heritage
Dear Annie: I’m wondering whether you can tell me where to turn. I have no idea who I am.
What I mean is that my father’s parents are a mystery. My sister and I were told that our father’s mother (our grandmother) died giving birth to him. We never knew her name. We have sent money to the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records, and no record of my father’s birth exists. We have sent money several times to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to obtain baptism, first Holy Communion and confirmation information, but that doesn’t exist.
My sister thinks the Catholic Church may be hiding something. We were told our father’s sister was a nun, so perhaps she is his real mother. Or perhaps our father was adopted. We have tried ancestry websites, to no avail. We are now beginning to wonder whether our last name is even accurate! There are television shows that help celebrities discover where they came from, but not being celebrities, where can we turn? We would be happy to at least be able to confirm our last name. — Who Am I?
Dear Who: Thanks to direct-to-consumer genetic testing, it’s easier than ever to sleuth out your heritage. With a little saliva and a chunk of change (in the $100 range), you can discover your ancestry, learn about your geographical origins and even possibly find living relatives. One of the most well-known companies offering these services is 23andMe. Visit its website for more information.
Dear Annie: You recently published a letter from “Daughter in Distress,” regarding her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease and her and her dad’s distress after taking the mother out for dinner.
I’ve been around this disease in my own family and worked at a facility, as well. I’d like to suggest that the family check to see whether the facility has a dining room available for families. This would be a way better solution, and they wouldn’t have to go through the agony of hearing the mom crying and begging to go home. Under no circumstances should they take her home, because she would think she is there for good. It takes weeks for a patient to acclimate to a nursing home, and if you take someone home, she has to go through it all over again. The only consolation I can offer to the daughter and her father is that most likely, Mom got over her tears quickly. People fade in and out with Alzheimer’s sometimes, and she probably has forgotten. But I know they have not! — Catherine
Dear Catherine: I’m sorry you have firsthand experience with this issue as a family member, but I appreciate your sharing your insights.
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