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
Available in Print and ebook, 125 pages
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.
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.’
Guest Review by Sal
“So, when my friend told me she was thinking of having a DNA test and thought I should do one, too, the only real reason in my mind to do the test, especially now that I was in my 60s, was to discover any medical history that might come from knowing about my birth parentage.”–Rebecca Daniels, “Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family.”
Imagine your entire life getting upended by a single email. That was the reality for author and former adoptee, Rebecca Daniels.
In 2015, after giving her information and DNA to an online genealogy service, Rebecca was contacted by a man who identified himself as her distant cousin, Thomas, who lived in Sweden. Thomas agreed to help Rebecca seek out her birth family because of his own interest in genealogy and the results are lovingly related in this memoir, “Finding Sisters.”
Anyone who finds genetics and ancestry fascinating (and why wouldn’t you?) will love this memoir. Not only does Rebecca tell her own story and the details of finding her birth mother, two half sisters, and lots of first, second and more cousins. She also adds a lot of facts about the science behind DNA testing and exactly how it works.
Creating the perfect balance between memoir and scientific information, the writing is both beautiful and captivating. I found myself, as a reader, truly invested in where her story was going next and how exactly she was going to handle contacting her birth mother for the first time in 60 years.
Thankfully, I was not disappointed in how this memoir played out, and I don’t think you will be either. This is a treat for memoir-lovers and science-lovers alike and a touching book that is meant to be enjoyed!
About the Author
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.
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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Praise for Finding Sisters
“Finding Sisters is an excellent example of what it takes to solve a family mystery. Yet it’s also a captivating story of human relationships in the age of secrecy-revealing DNA databases. As Rebecca Daniels so skillfully illustrates, DNA tests are most effective when combined with conventional genealogical research, thoughtful letter writing, and a willingness to get on the phone for some awkward conversations with complete strangers. Like many of us, the author wasn’t even sure she wanted to attempt this search. Then—in making contact with newfound relatives—she experienced both acceptance and rejection. By sharing her thoughts and insights throughout this journey, Rebecca makes the story refreshingly honest and personal. Like no other DNA success story, Finding Sisters uses footnotes and family tree diagrams to show exactly how the search unfolds. This makes the book a clever hybrid of a memoir and a case study.”-Richard Hill, Author of “Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA”
“I would, hands down, recommend Finding Sisters to anyone who is contemplating going on this journey of discovery. Rebecca Daniels lays out quite beautifully what one can expect from a logistical standpoint, while acknowledging that the emotional ride might be different for everyone. I particularly liked at the end how she wrote about not having any huge “aha” releases. I find that to be true of therapy as well. There are breakthroughs and insights, and then we usually move slowly toward change. I think this book does great justice to the idea that it is the journey and not necessarily the destination. I think sometimes we think we are going to find the piece that makes everything else make sense, but that kind of shifting ground is reserved for the movies and near-death experiences. I think Finding Sisters reflects this reality well when it comes to change.”–Jay Sefton, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
“In Finding Sisters, Rebecca Daniels becomes a detective taking the reader on an intriguing hero’s journey to solve the mystery of her roots. The rollercoaster of complex emotions is evident as she navigates her way through today’s popular DNA ancestry websites connecting surnames, diving down rabbit holes, hitting dead-ends and making break-through discoveries. Along the journey, Daniels receives significant virtual guidance from newly found distant relative Thomas, forming an enigmatic relationship that will prove both beautiful and haunting. The adopted person’s journey is an important one to understand, and Daniels serves us well by bravely sharing her story.”–Brian Stanton, actor/writer of the film @ghostkingdom and solo play “BLANK,” both pieces about adoption, search and reunion
“In Rebecca Daniels’ memoir Finding Sisters, she takes us on her personal journey for answers surrounding her adoption, birth family, and ancestral heritage and introduces us to genealogy research and the increasingly popular genealogy websites that make familial matches from DNA databases. Of all the encounters and relationships, she chronicles during her search, I found the most interesting and endearing to be the one formed with a genealogy expert she befriended online after entering into the intriguing world of DNA discovery. This book is not just ideal for those interested in genealogy research and ancestry websites, but also those wanting to uncover more of what makes them who they are. And isn’t that all of us to some degree?”–Maia Williamson, author