"Where were you?"

The past 24 hours have been more than overwhelming. 

The horrible angst of waiting for my brother's and my cousin's DNA results; the fear and wonder, mixed with eventual joy, that proved (yes, PROVED) that we are fully related to the same parents. 

As you can see by these side by side photos of Robert and me when we were both about 17 years old, the resemblance is unmistakable.

At about 5 p.m. yesterday I called the first person (other than my brother and cousin) who deserved to be on the receiving end of this outstanding news - my search angel extraordinaire. She was the one who quickly, within 2 hours, put all the pieces together for me back in June once my newly updated non-identifying information was received and sent me down the road to discovery. There are many out there like her, too numerous to mention, but you know who you are. And they provide these services for free. They don't even require a "Thank you".  Their work benefits many but as she once told me, the rewards to them in return is a hundred fold.

New cutting edge technology involving DNA testing is beginning to open doors for adoptees and anyone with questions about their ancestry. I personally have seen the methodology of using DNA with a combination of good old fashioned sleuthing WORK. I know of 3 "finds" alone last week. Companies like FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) have given adoptees and others a true gift. There are others, like 23andme who also provide great resources but FTDNA is geared towards genealogy and in my humble opinion is #1 for this purpose. Others may disagree but I have tested at FTDNA, 23andme and AncestryDNA and in the end FTDNA is the easiest and most useful for adoptees. If you want to take advantage of the health testing at 23andme you can then have the option of uploading your raw data to the FTDNA database for a reasonable cost. Fishing in two ponds is always better than one.

Aside from the joy of my own discovery using FTDNA, it has been a real learning experience in that it has really added to my knowledge of how DNA is so randomly handed down. I also believe it will help me weed out other maternal vs. paternal matches, because Peter has a different father than Robert and I do.  Anyone that matches all 3 of us with an overlap will theoretically be my maternal side.  Anyone who matches me and Robert but not Peter should theoretically be my paternal side. This is also where the X chromosome matches to Robert and Peter can be helpful. 

I've gotten a little off track, but I think it is important that I mentioned it. So back to my story.....

I wasn't even hungry for dinner,  my hunger lied in learning more about the parents that gave birth to me. Hubby insisted I get away from the computer and phone for a bit, go out with him to have something to eat and later make those phone calls to Robert and Peter. Upon our return I was anxious to get on the phone and share the news with Robert and Peter.  I called my brother, Robert, first.

Karin: Hello, Robert?
Robert: Yesssss, who is this?
Karin: It's Karin.
Robert: Who?
Karin: Karin!!!
Robert: Who????
Karin: IT'S YOUR SISTER! I got the DNA results back today and not only is your mother my mother but your father is my father as well.  We are full siblings! (without taking a breath)

After much laughter and verbal jousting on both our parts the conversation turned to questions from me about his family, his wife, his children. We eventually drifted to talk about our mother. I could hear the emotion in his voice and he almost sounded like he was crying. I told him, once again, how sorry I was that he had lost our mother at such a young age. (She died at age 32 in a car accident in 1961 when he was only 13. The car went over a hidden ravine and her body was not found for two weeks subsequent.). 

Robert: She was the most beautiful woman I ever knew.

Karin: She certainly was. I have wonderful pictures of her that Peter sent me.

After a moment of silence, his voice cracked.

Robert: Where were you when I needed you most?

My heart absolutely broke.


And then I could hear him literally swallow a sob. I didn't know what to say.

Oh, dear God....is he still, after 50 years, mourning the loss of his mother?

Karin: Robert, I didn't know! I was living on Long Island and had no idea about what was going on in your life. I didn't even know you existed! But I am going to come visit you real soon. And I promise to give you the biggest hug you have ever gotten. It's all going to be okay. I'm here now!

We ended the call soon thereafter after about an hour of talking and then making plans for me to come to Connecticut.

After a little breather and another tissue to mop my face, I called my cousin Peter. No one answered so I left a message: "Peter, this is Karin. I just got back the results of our DNA tests. Call me back....quickly!"

Within minutes he called back and said, "You don't even have to tell me, I heard it all in your voice on the message. Congratulations and welcome to the family. I'm so happy for all of us - so when are you coming to Connecticut?"

We spoke for about an hour.

But I was haunted.....I think I will always be haunted....

"Where were you when I needed you most? Where were you, Karin?"

Barbara June Foley Shumsky
February 25, 1929 - July 31, 1961

And my father:
Robert Joseph Shumsky
June 16, 1928 - July 31, 1985

Karin Corbeil
- born Carol Lee Foley 1945 to Barbara June Foley (1929-1961) and Robert Joseph Shumsky (1928-1985); sister to Robert Shumsky and David Shumsky (1953-1982)

NEXT New and Innovative Ways DNA is Helping Adoptees



  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Karin. Thank God for companies like Family Tree DNA and 23andMe who allow us to learn more about our heritage and who for once in their lives gives hope to Adoptees.

  2. Yes, the rewards are so great for us search angels. I always tell people what we do is so precious, if we put a monetary figure on it, that would cheapen it. I'm getting my rewards racked up upstairs. ;)
    I look forward to working with you as we help more people learn their truth, their identity, family history, heritage and the identity of those to whom they are blood related.
    And working in the legislatures of "sealed" states to get original birth certificates restored to adult adoptees.
    Another adoptee freed from the oppression of secrets and lies - another cause for celebration today.

  3. Karin, Easy to see where you got your good looks cousin! Great story and it is hard to see what I am typing through the tears. Grab the tissue! Some are poignant and some are tears of happiness for you.

    1. Thank you....Cousin? Are you going to keep me in suspense as to your identity? Let me guess...does the name Grace Lyman ring a bell???