Unveiling the Hidden Roots of Anita's Adoption Through DNA

Unveiling the Hidden Roots of Anita's Adoption Through DNA

Date published
June 18, 2023

Unraveling the secrets of one's ancestry can be a deeply personal and sometimes elusive pursuit. For Anita, born in 1929, the discovery of her adoption at the age of 12 ignited a lifelong curiosity about her true origins. Her unexpected discovery of adoption happened when she and a friend were playing and they had a disagreement. The friend became angry at Anita and suddenly told her, “You’re adopted, my mom told me.” Anita didn't believe her friend at first but later, her parents showed her the adoption papers, confirming the truth. This revelation made Anita upset but she didn't try to find her birth parents until after she was married.


Anita made numerous attempts throughout her life to find her biological parents but unfortunately passed away before succeeding. Due to privacy laws, she never learned her parents' names. All she knew was that at the time of her birth, her father was a 21-year-old barber, and both parents were from Germany. The only additional clue she had was her given name at birth, which was Johanna Lind. This name was mentioned on a document from the adoption agency. However, despite these clues, she had not been able to locate her parents.

In 2018, after Anita's passing, her daughter Jo took an AncestryDNA test. She matched with an unknown person named Sandra, estimated to be either a first cousin once removed or a second cousin. Sandra’s daughter noticed this fairly close match and contacted me to help find the common ancestry. Jo said that she didn’t know anything about her maternal heritage and also mentioned the name Johanna Lind. This name immediately resonated with Sandra's daughter because it happened to be the name of Sandra's maternal grandmother. Recognizing the importance of this connection, I asked Jo to download her raw DNA data so that I could upload it to Gedmatch.com for further analysis.

By comparing Jo's DNA with Sandra's DNA, as well as the DNA of three other close cousins who are descendants of Johanna Lind through her daughter Cecilia, it was confirmed that Jo also descended from Johanna Lind. These comparisons further established that Sandra's first cousins once removed were in fact half-first cousins to Jo. Each of Jo and Sandra's three cousins descended from Cecilia, the daughter of Sandra's grandmother Johanna, while Sandra herself descends from Johanna's daughter Susanna. By piecing together the results of DNA comparisons with vital records and incorporating details that Sandra’s daughter already knew, it was revealed that Sandra's grandmother was Jo's great-grandmother.

The image below, created at DNAPainter.com shows several chromosome segments that were mapped by comparing Jo’s DNA with Sandra and three other cousins that also descend from Johanna Lind.


In an incredibly short period of just two hours, it was established that Jo's mother, Anita, was the daughter of Sandra's aunt, Cecilia. Despite living in Germany, Cecilia spent three years in the United States between 1927 and 1930. During her time in the US, she became pregnant but chose to keep it a secret from her family. Unmarried at the age of 19, she made the difficult decision to give her baby daughter up for adoption. Cecilia named the infant Johanna Lind, after her deceased mother, before entrusting her to an adoption agency. Cecilia never revealed the existence of this child to anyone within her family. The revelation of Cecilia's hidden past came to light exclusively through a DNA test.

At a later date, I did additional genetic DNA analysis and found the identity of Anita's biological father. This enabled Jo to have a complete understanding of her mother’s true lineage.

In summary, the use of a DNA test played a crucial role in solving Anita’s adoption case, and for her daughter Jo, it gave her the closure that her mom sadly was unable to attain. This case study exemplifies the power of DNA testing in unraveling hidden family connections. In just two hours, the maternal side of a long-held secret concerning Anita's adoption was revealed, offering closure and answers that conventional genealogical research methods had been unable to accomplish. The simplicity and accuracy of DNA testing make it an invaluable tool for individuals seeking to uncover their heritage and reconnect with long-lost relatives.

About the author:

Wendy Werner is a family history researcher with a passion for helping others locate their roots. She has eighteen years of genealogy research experience.

You can email Wendy at: gentrees@live.com

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