I didn’t think I would ever get this close to finally solving a family mystery from WWII. My great-grandparents died in the 1970s, wondering whatever happened to their free-spirited daughter and unborn grandchild.
Five years ago, American Red Cross with the help of International Tracing Service found my missing grand aunt alive after vanishing for 66 years. The incredible news came days before my birthday, a great gift.
Now, I am waiting for Ancestry DNA to come through for my entire family and especially for the daughter of my grand aunt. She, her children and grandchildren don’t know anything about her father.
In the past year her matches on Family Tree DNA haven’t been close enough to answer the question on the mystery father from war-torn Berlin, Germany. Tired of waiting for the golden match, I finally gave into paying for a DNA test through Ancestry DNA.
It’s been an 11-month ordeal. The first Ancestry DNA kit was returned to my cousin. It’s illegal to send spit-filled test tubes through the Russian postal service abroad.
Thankfully, Ancestry DNA agreed to send me a second kit at no charge. I created a new plan to get around Russian laws. I found a contact to get the DNA kit out of Russia while they travelled abroad.
I told my cousin of the plan and the importance of immediately getting her mother to do the test so everything would line up properly. I started to sweat two weeks before my contact would travel.
My cousin didn’t answer my message about whether she mailed the DNA test until 6 days before my contact would travel. She told me she mailed the package that day. I got even more nervous.
The distance the package had to travel was close to the distance between Toronto, Canada, and New York City. How could the Russian postal service deliver the package in time?
I was devastated when I learned that the package arrived in my contact’s city a day after the traveling contact left Russia. Then, it took another 4 days to get through the city and into the local post office.
The next time the contact would travel abroad was scheduled months away. I was one step away from getting my hands on the package and done with waiting.
Thanks to a distant cousin from Russia on Ancestry DNA, I got advice for getting the package out of Russia. My contact followed my directions and I had the package in my hands 6 days later.
I couldn’t be happier to finally touch this package. I saw that U.S. customs cut open the package inside to inspect the contents. They didn’t care the customs form didn’t declare the actual object inside because DNA kits aren’t illegal in U.S. postal mail.
I immediately put the DNA test in the return shipping box at the post office. It took a week for Ancestry to list the kit as arrived.
Now, the waiting game begins. Will the matches again be too distant to find the father’s family? Will close matches refuse to answer my messages?
Let’s hope for a holiday miracle and finally say mystery solved.
Read the previous posts on this journey: