7 questions to Hill about the hunt to find his family
When Richard Hill was 18, his doctor mentioned his adoption, assuming he already knew about it.
He did not.
Hill, the author of Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA ($24.02, Raincoast Books), had a good relationship with his parents and figured they must have had a reason for not telling him he was adopted so he didn’t say anything.
“I chose not to bring it up,” Hill wrote in an email interview.
“I figured they had their reasons and I did not want to hurt them. Eventually, my dad chose to bring up the subject with me on his death bed.”
Hill said his parents had encountered prejudice in the 1940s against ‘bastard’ children so they decided to hide their son’s adoption from everyone, including Hill himself.
His dad told Hill his birth mother had another son, Hill’s brother, whom Hill wanted to track down. His father encouraged him to do so; his mother discouraged him from getting involved with his birth mother’s family.
At 35 years old, Hill began the search for his birth parents as well as any siblings he might have.
Hill answered 7 questions about his book and using DNA to find your relatives.
Q. If you could only share one tip for people trying to find their relatives/ancestors what would it be?
A. Get your DNA into all four of the major autosomal DNA databases to maximize your chances of getting the most useful matches: AncestryDNA, Family Finder, 23andMe and MyHeritage.
Q. What do you enjoy most about genealogy and the hunt?
A. Making contact with new relatives who happen to be nice, interesting people. For example, one of my very distant cousins in my direct paternal line is actually a rocket scientist.
Q. Now that you have found your father’s family, will you continue to research your family tree?
A. Yes. With genealogy you’re never done. Now that I’m into genealogy, I’m also researching my wife’s tree for her and our children.
Q. Does you story have a happy ending?
A. My story has a very happy ending. I answered all my questions, found closure, and have good relationships with my new half siblings and cousins.
Q. Why did it take 26 years to find your birth father?
A. Sealed records, a falsely named man in the non-identifying information provided by the court and my own procrastination when life got too busy to search.
Q. How will the book help others?
A. It has already helped many by inspiring them to begin (or keep) searching and by educating them about DNA testing.
Q. What’s next?
A. I have already written a Guide to DNA Testing. It is a deliberately concise, inexpensive and easy-to-understand Kindle eBook available on Amazon. It explains the different tests and includes links to more comprehensive books and many online resources.
I continue to write about DNA testing for my website and Facebook page and answer thousands of individual questions a year for free.
I also give presentations on DNA to genealogy and adoption groups, libraries and bookstores. Future events include the National Genealogical Society 2018 Family History Conference in Grand Rapids, MI.
Finding Family synopsis
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA is the highly suspenseful account of an adoptee trying to reclaim the biological family denied him by sealed birth records. This fascinating quest, including the author’s landmark use of DNA testing, takes readers on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride and concludes with a twist that rivals anything Hollywood has to offer.
In the vein of a classic mystery, Hill gathers the seemingly scant evidence surrounding the circumstances of his birth. As his resolve shores up, the author also avails of new friends, genealogists, the Internet, and the latest DNA tests in the new field of genetic genealogy. As he closes in on the truth of his ancestry, he is able to construct a living, breathing portrait of the young woman who was faced with the decision to forsake her rights to her child, and ultimately the man whose identity had remained hidden for decades.
Finding Family offers guidance, insight, and motivation for anyone engaged in a similar mission, from ways to obtain information to the many networks that can facilitate adoption searches. The book includes a detailed guide to DNA and genetic genealogy and how they can produce irrefutable results in determining genetic connections and help adoptees bypass sealed records and similar stumbling blocks.