Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Suzie's Review and Author Guest Post: Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels
Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family by Rebecca Daniels 

Publisher: Sunbury Press (September 14, 2021) 
Category: Non Fiction, Memoir, Genetic Genealogy, Adoption, Family Reunion, Extended Families 
Tour dates: January-February, 2022 
ISBN: 978-1620065587
Available in Print and ebook, 125 pages
  Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

Description Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

Where does she come from?

Who are her genetic parents?

Who is she?

Does she even want to know?

With almost no information of her genetic heritage, adoptee Rebecca Daniels follows limited clues and uses DNA testing, genealogical research, thoughtful letter writing, and a willingness to make awkward phone calls with strangers to finally find her birth parents.

But along the way, she finds much more.

Two half-sisters.

A slew of cousins on both sides.

A family waiting to be discovered.

With the assistance of a distant cousin in Sweden and several other DNA angels on the internet, Daniels finally comes face to face with her birth mother just months before her passing. Join in on this author’s discovery of family and self in ‘Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family.’

Suzie's Review Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

From the time that she was a young girl, Rebecca Daniels always knew that she was adopted. One of her first clues was when her parents seemed to acquire a little brother for her out of the clear blue sky with no apparent pregnancy involved.

Daniels grew up secure and happy with her life and it wasn't until she became an older adult, after both her parents passed,  adult that she began to seriously look into where she came from.

In 'Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family,' Daniels relates her experience with finding her biological family via a lot of hard work and with the help of some friends, family, and DNA.

After submitting her DNA to an online genetic testing service, Daniels was given several matches in the website's database. All were people who were genetically related to her, but none were closer than distant cousins.

After a year of receiving hundreds of matches, she eventually got an email from a man in Sweden who identified himself as her distant cousin, Thomas. Although he did not know Daniels' birth parents, he informed her that he had a keen interest in DNA and genealogy and that he would be happy to help her track down her family.

The two communicated over email, with Daniels relating the scant details that she was able to give and Thomas, used his internet prowess to track down all the information he could. Soon, Thomas was able to find Daniels' birth mother, Glenna and two half sisters, as well as some other close family members.

Daniels was overjoyed, but hesitant as to how to contact these family members without putting them on the spot, and thus, the story of her memoir commences.

This is an absolutely worthwhile read that anyone who enjoys memoirs or the television show, ‘ Long Lost Family’, would love! Daniels' writing is stunning and her emotions are so real they jump off the page. 5 stars to this wonderful book! 

Guest Post by Rebecca Daniels

The Ins and Outs Of Writing About Family (For Public Consumption)

 Writing about family you have known well your whole life can be challenging, charged as it could be with mysteries some folks might not want revealed or behaviors that are less than flattering. But writing about family that you have only recently discovered can be even more fraught, even if what you are writing about is entirely positive or simply speculative, especially if family members had no idea a particular mystery occurred in the first place.

 When people are searching for and connecting with previously unknown genetic relatives, regardless of their initial motivation for the search, long-held secrets can often be exposed in the process. This is particularly true when adoptees like me, who have experienced a closed adoption, search for their genetic family members, many of whom might not even know the adoptee in question ever existed.

 For example, in my own search I experienced this kind of resistance in one branch of my maternal relations, where a couple of distant cousins went so far as to accuse me of being a scammer who wanted something from the family and said I was impugning the memory of a beloved long-dead family member by claiming to be related to him, even as others among their siblings or cousins were welcoming to me and found my claim about the familial connection entirely plausible.

 I also discovered when contacting my DNA testing matches that some people didn’t want to share their names, even with folks they knew they were genetically related to. In fact, my own brother (also adopted) used an alias when doing DNA testing because he only wanted to know ethnic information about his heritage and was not interested in connecting with any individuals with whom he might share a blood tie. There was no fear or animosity involved; he simply didn’t care about finding any new family members. The ones he already had were enough for him.

So, what does a writer do when she decides to share the story to a broader audience about the journey toward finding her new family members, whether they are welcoming or otherwise? Does she use real names and identities or not? The story is not fiction, but some of the characters involved don’t want it to be reality.

 When one works with genealogy, individual and family names, which help with tracing the lineage/bloodlines of a family, can be critical information, but does everyone always need to know all the names? If it’s a family history, made for those who share that history, the answer is a definite “Yes.” But if it’s a story about finding family that will be read by others in similar situations but outside of the family in question, perhaps a more measured answer is appropriate.

 When I first started thinking about writing a book about my genetic genealogy journey, I wondered what I would do about all the names involved, especially given that the families I was discovering genetic connections to often had many children in earlier generations and several involved second marriages connecting me to even more children with yet another surname. Of course, during the course of my journey I collected all the names, needed them even, to keep everyone connected but also differentiated clearly in my head. But did everyone who read about my search really need to know all those names?

 I presented the chapters in draft to my women writers’ group for feedback, and they agreed that while they found the overarching story of my search engaging, the family names were often more confusing than clarifying, especially since, as readers, they had no familial connection to the people involved. The first decision I made after that helpful discussion was to eliminate all references to surnames in my manuscript, using initials instead. Those family names didn’t seem crucial for my story, and I could share them with family members who wanted to know more, if asked.

 Another aspect of writing about family members is that they may not like what you have to say about them in your writing, or how you say it, even if the words are not particularly negative. And if you are in conflict with those family members for any reason, however insignificant, the situation is heightened even further. I had no interest in sugarcoating the truth about some of the uncomfortable things that happened in my encounters with new relations, or in letting previously unknown family members revise my story to fit their own comfort level, so I needed to decide what I was going to do about their given names as well. For the more distant relatives, I didn’t worry because none of them figured critically in my story, and I was fairly certain most of them wouldn’t be reading the book when it came out. But for the more immediate relatives who played prominent roles in my discoveries, I decided to ask them if they wanted to be identified by a pseudonym or by their real first names. In all cases, they were honored to be asked and happy to be identified as my new-found kin. And they all bought and read the book. I’ve had no complaints.

Finding Sisters by Rebecca DanielsAbout Rebecca Daniels

Rebecca Daniels (MFA, PhD) taught performance, writing, and speaking in liberal arts universities for over 25 years, including St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, from 1992-2015. She was the founding producing director of Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR, and directed with many professional Portland theatre companies in the 1980s.

She is the author of the groundbreaking Women Stage Directors Speak: Exploring the Effects of Gender on Their Work (McFarland, 1996, 2000) and has been published in multiple professional theatre journals. After her retirement from teaching, she began her association with Sunbury Press with Keeping the Lights on for Ike: Daily Life of a Utilities Engineer at AFHQ in Europe During WWII; or, What to Say in Letters Home When You’re Not Allowed to Write about the War (Sunbury Press, 2019), a book based on her father’s letters home from Europe during WWII.

She had always known she was adopted, but it was only as retirement approached, and with a friend’s encouragement, that she began the search for her genetic heritage through DNA testing. Finding Sisters explores how DNA testing, combined with traditional genealogical research, helped her find her genetic parents, two half-sisters, and other relatives in spite of being given up for a closed adoption at birth.

She is currently working on a new memoir about her late-in-life second marriage and sudden widowhood titled Adventures with the Bartender: Finding and Losing the Love of my Life in Six Short Years.

Website: https://rebecca-daniels.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.daniels.9

Buy Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels


Giveaway Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

This giveaway is for 1 print copy and 1 pdf copy. Print is open to the U.S. only  and pdf is open worldwide. This giveaway ends on February 26, 2022 midnight, pacific time.  Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only.
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Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you enjoyed 'Finding Sister'. I loved it as well!


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