Have A Cup Of Joe With Joe – Thankful For The Answer To “Who’s Your Daddy?”
On March 31, 1954, the trajectory of my life was forever changed when Judge Joseph Antoine Legris,in the County of Essex, signed my adoption decree officially naming me Joseph Edward McParland,the infant son of my Adoptive Father (AF), Joseph James McParland and my Adoptive Mother (AM), Elizabeth Catherine McParland.
I wish to make it very clear that my adoptive parents, Elizabeth and Joseph, are, and always will be, MY mom and dad — the amazing couple who specifically chose me as THEIR son, loved me, cared for me, and raised me as their own. I love them deeply and miss them each day they have been gone.
I was born on December 11, 1952 to Margaret Anne Bensette, my Birth Mother, (BM), an unmarried 19 year-old girl. I was 10 years old when my AM explained to me that I was adopted.
A few years later I was snooping through her “private drawer” and found part of my adoption record and learned I was born Gary Michael Bensette.
No other information was provided.
Fast forward 40 years to June 2009, Ontario opened adoption records for adoptees and natural parents. An adopted person could now obtain his or her original Statement of Birth with the names and addresses of the birth parents.
I applied in September 2009 for my records. I received them and the Statement of Birth confirmed my birth name, and supplied my BM’s name, age, occupation, and address. It turns out that my BM lived two streets directly east of where I grew up on Partington Avenue.
However, missing from the Statement of Birth was data about the paternal side of my birth; it was blank. This showed that no one knew who my Birth Father (BF) was.
Over the past decade, through social media and library research, I’ve contacted relatives of my BM who passed away in 1989 from cancer. I received some maternal medical family history and family photos from some of them.
However, according to my Family Doctor Frank DeMarco: “It’s paternal medical history that is much more important to have.”
But how to obtain it, since my BF is unknown?
My friend Fred (last name withheld) is a retired librarian and I shared with him that I was adopted as an infant.
He suggested that I take an AncestryDNA test, which he offered to interpret for me. I honestly wasn’t interested. I didn’t think that a DNA test could ever find my Birth Father.
However, Fred kept subtly suggesting AncestryDNA and I eventually agreed to it.
I ordered the kit, spat in a tube, and sent it off to the lab in Ireland. Weeks later, my results appeared online to reveal I am mostly French and English, not Irish like my surname.
In addition — and here’s the important part — I have over 40,000 cousin matches.
That is, other people who have taken the test and have DNA related to mine!
By examining those cousin matches and sorting the closest ones into maternal and paternal groups, Fred noticed a pattern. As he explains “One name stood out in the family trees of the matches on the paternal side, and that name was Martel.”
Fred developed a theory that my BF was one of three Martel brothers who grew up on Windsor’s west side: George, Victor or Leo.
His investigation then found a local Martel named Don on Facebook, and they began to exchange information.
It turns out that Don is Leo’s son.
Don informed Fred that his own son, Christopher “took a DNA test at a different company, 23andMe and perhaps that might shed light on this.”
Coincidentally, Don, Chris, and I were all Facebook friends, though I didn’t know either of them. So, Chris, Fred and I had a video chat, where Fred instructed Chris on how to upload his data to a site called GEDmatch where DNA results from different companies can be compared.
Comparing Christopher’s results with mine showed that we are closely related.
He was either my half nephew or my first cousin once removed. Only by his father taking a test of his own would we find out which relationship was correct.
Don readily agreed to be tested and when his results came back, those results made it clear that he is my half brother; we both share the same father, Leo Martel.
As Don tells us with a big smile, “It’s 99.9% certain he’s (Joe) my brother!”
And his son, Christopher chimes in “I am so excited to have ‘Uncle’ Joe as part of our family. Until now, I stood alone as the only gay person in the Martel family. Knowing Joe is my uncle and is also gay is awesome.”
So that’s how my nearly 70-year-old personal mystery of “who’s my daddy” came to be solved. In Fred’s words it was “just by spitting in a tube!”
My BF Leo died in 1964 of cancer, when I was 11, although I never knew he existed. He was 34 years of age.
I don’t know whether he ever knew about me, but he is my biological father just the same. As I indicated earlier, my BM died in 1989.
My AF died of cancer in 1970 when I was 17 years old. My AM died of Parkinson’s related issues in 2002.
In the past year I also discovered by coincidence that a neighbour of mine for the past 20 years is my first cousin once removed on my BM’s side. Janice Forsyth is a self-employed consultant, operating as Foresight Management Consulting.
This is her account of our connection: “My mother always talked about the great-nephew she had never met. She would talk about how hard it was for a young woman in the 1950s to have a child on her own. Although I had met Joe, waved to him as we walked by his house, and even been interviewed by him over the years, it wasn’t until one day recently, when Joe spoke to my husband about his Birth Mother being a Bensette that I knew we had found my long lost cousin (first cousin once removed). I only wish my mom was here to meet him!”
Forsyth continues: “The discovery was confirmed when I did my own DNA ancestry test — 38% England and Northwestern Europe; 37% Scotland (my dad’s side) and the rest a mix of Germanic Europe, Sweden and Ireland. We are so happy for Joe and welcome him to our family.”
My friends, October is a time of Thanksgiving, a time for us to celebrate the gifts in our life. For me, that is family, friends, and good health.
I am so grateful to have found answers to my nearly 70-year-old questions and to have expanded my circle of family here on earth and beyond.