As a genetic genealogist with DNAngels, a nonprofit organization that helps people find their biological family, Aimee Haynes is no stranger to family history research.
Her great-grandfather Richard had been adopted, and his daughter Carol — Aimee’s grandmother — had always wondered about his origins.
In 2014–2015, Aimee began studying genetic genealogy and had her family take DNA tests. But she didn’t make any progress until, in 2018, she uploaded her DNA data to MyHeritage. There she found a promising lead: a first cousin match to her Grandma Carol. Unfortunately, this match, Judy, was abandoned by her father, who was the relative they were connected through.
Undaunted, Aimee kept searching — and eventually solved the cousin’s case to help her great-grandfather’s case.
In search of Richard’s past
It turned out that Judy’s father, William, was the full brother of Aimee’s great-grandfather Richard. William had been raised by his aunt Myrtle, who was his mother Helen’s sister. Sadly, Helen had been institutionalized on and off due to a mental health condition, so Myrtle raised William. Richard, on the other hand, was placed for adoption, because Helen believed him to be the product of an affair. Since William and Richard were full brothers, they must have had the same father, and that didn’t quite track with the story.
Aimee was able to get in touch with Helen’s nephew Norris. He provided some key information about her personality and mental health. Aimee was also able to find Richard’s original birth certificate, which listed Jack Rowan, a naval sailor, as the father of Richard.
However, try as she might, Aimee wasn’t able to find this Jack Rowan, even after a year of research.
Meanwhile, Aimee became a volunteer with DNAngels. This allowed her to build upon the skills she had learned on her own to help others search for their biological families.
The final puzzle piece
Finally, in 2022, she received a match on MyHeritage that pulled everything together.
Jane, from the U.K., shared 403 centimorgans with Grandma Carol… and her grandfather turned out to be the brother of Frederick Neale — Helen’s husband.
This served as definitive proof that Richard had not, in fact, been the product of an affair. He and William were both the children of Helen Tilton and Frederick Neale.
“This journey started in 2015 and was finally solved in 2022!” says Aimee. “I would still be working on this if it wasn’t for MyHeritage. Not only did we figure out Richard’s birth family, we connected William to his birth family within my tree, and identified Judy’s birth father.”
Helen gave birth to Richard at the Lebanon home in Seattle, Washington, and when he was 3 days old, he was adopted by Carol’s grandparents, Aimee and Richard Cundy. They raised him in a loving, caring home, but didn’t reveal to him that he was adopted until he tried to enlist in the military. “Richard was stunned, but throughout life, never had the desire to find his biological family,” says Aimee. “He always said the Cundys were his only parents.”
Aimee has since learned that the Cundys and Helen lived within 2–6 miles from each other until Richard was an adult. Richard and his half-aunt, Phyllis, graduated from the same high school and probably knew each other. William, Richard’s brother, was raised 5 miles away in the Queen Anne area of Seattle, and enlisted in the Air Force around the same time that Richard did. Both served in World War II.
Aimee is grateful to be able to apply her skills to help others solve their family mysteries as a volunteer for DNAngels. “I have helped over 500 families with their search for their biological families, and each one is as rewarding to me as solving my own family adoption mystery,” she says.
Source: My Heritage