FOUND!!!!!

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Happened that quickly; in the blink of an eye – I went from not knowing anything to having full siblings, and 200 people on my ancestry tree.
Well, I don’t even know where to begin. But I will start with a bit of backtracking.
Last Monday, after returning from a family vacation, I found I had a ‘close family’ match on Ancestry.
Well, cutting to the chase, after a day of phone calls back and forth to my new close family match, Nikki, sharing 1602 cMs and 62 segments, as well as calls to some other DNA cousins – we determined this was my niece – my FULL niece. Nicki had lots of info and we got from point A to point B pretty quickly with her knowledge combined with the Urdaz research tree I had on Ancestry.
Why is this so AMAZING? 50+ years ago I was found in a car at 12 to 24 hours old with no identifying information. The ensuing police investigation came up empty and I was soon released by Family Services to be adopted. [Who would ever think I would have FULL anything!!]
I have always known I was adopted, and have always wondered about my birth family. Years and years of questioning, wondering and frustration followed by empty leads and not much more information.
Finally, I DNA tested three years ago. I followed the recommendations and tested across the board, aka, ‘fishing in all ponds’; it paid off. Honestly, I am still floored/confused by the science. Many times I didn’t fully understand what I was looking at. I was fortunate to have the assistance of the brilliant mind and amazing heart of a DNA cousin, George P. George correctly determined who my original tribe would be months ago! Without the information George pieced together; it wouldn’t have been so easy to ascertain the relationship with my new found niece!
It turns out I have one surviving full biological brother and 2 that have passed along with my biological father. My birth mother is still alive. She has a vague memory of her pregnancy with me, so I am still trying to determine the true story of my very very humble beginnings. However, she did name me Elizabeth. [My biological brother will be DNA testing soon.]
Now, I am complete – I am relieved to have finally found my truth!
I am still a woman of two tribes, but now I know the origins of my original tribe – so, my quest will be changing.
My breakdown:
I am half Puerto Rican – and if you are Puerto Rican you know this to be a melting pot of several cultures and nationalities combing European, Indigenous and African roots.  The other half is mostly German.  My Jewish / Ashkenazi heritage is still questionable and seems to possibly come from both sides.
My paternal history is Puerto Rican.
My dad was Israel Joseph Rivera y Juarbe, 1935 – 2011. He relocated to Florida.
On his paternal side; he is the great grandson of Hipolito Rivera and Francisca Correa y Urdaz [circa 1866 – 1925] both from Arecibo and Eulogio Rios y Medina & Beatriz Ortega y Viruet [circa 1864 – 1915] both from Utado. He is the grandson of Emilio Rivera y Urdaz & Trinidad Rios y Ortega [circa 1887 – 1937.]
On his maternal side  he is the great grandson of Utado residents Juan Batista Serrano Gonzalez & Cruz Roldan [circa 1842 – 1898] and Antonio M. Juarbe y Gonzalez of Utado & Fidela Gonzalez y Lopez from Lares  [circa 1844 – 1927]. He is the grandson of Jose Juarbe y Gonzalez & Carmen Serrano y Roldan [circa 1842 – 1942]. Both from Utado, eventually Carmen would find herself in Arecibo.
He was the only surviving son of Efrain Rivera y Rios & Rosa Juarbe y Serrano [circa 1912 – 2000]. His mother Rosa, passed just months after his entrance to this world. That is probably what sparked my grandfather, Efrain to pull up roots from Puerto Rico and head to the mainland; to New York. Eventually he would retire with my step-grandmother Marta Davis Centano in Florida. Efrain & Marta would have two children together; my father’s half-siblings, Beatrix and David.
My paternal birth family hails from mostly Arecibo and Utado, Puerto Rico. My paternal surnames are Rivera, Juarbe, Serrano, Gonzalez, Lopez, Correa, Rios, Roldan, Ortega, Urdaz, Medina, Viruet and Miranda.
My maternal history is basically German, along with some Irish.  My mother Linda Elizabeth Reyalt, 1935 – present was born in New York.  At present, she is in a facility in Florida.
On her paternal side, she is the granddaughter of Henry Reyalt & Augusta Ohrich [circa 1878]. They hailed from Germany and show up on the 1910 US Census. Here they both give their immigrations years as 1894 for Henry & 1900 for Augusta ‘Gussie’ as well as claiming ‘Naturalized’ status. They made their home in Brooklyn.
On her  maternal side; she is the great granddaughter of Patrick Sylvester Durkin & Katherine Sweeney [circa 1852 – 1914] both of Mayo Ireland and Philip Ochsenreiter & Katherine Liesenbein [circa 1848 – 1904]. Patrick & Katherine S reported their arrival from Mayo, Ireland to New York city in 1861. At some point after she was widowed, Katherine S relocated to Chicago, Illinois.  Philip & Katherine L originally hailed from a small town, Freinsheim in the district of Bad Dürkheim in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. They migrated to the New York City area arriving on June 24, 1853 on the ship, The Mary Annah. The ship last departed Le Havre, France before it ended its journey on our eastern shore here in New York. She is the the granddaughter of John Ochsenreiter of New York & Katherine E. Durkin of Pennsylvania [born approx 1875, showing up last on the 1930 US census]. They too resided in Brooklyn, NY.
Finally she is the daughter of Walter Reyelt & Isabel Ochsenreiter [circa 1911 –  2003]. Practically her last 8 years she would spend as a widow relocating to Florida.
My My maternal surnames are Reyelt, Ochsenreiter, Durkin, Ohrich, Liesenbein, Sweeney, Dyra, Hofmann, Armbruster, Neyland, and Neiland.
My parents had a total of five children together, in birth order;  Debra Rivera 1957 -2102, Israel Rivera 1958 [stillborn], Joseph Rivera 1960 – present, this author 1963 – present, David Rivera 1966 – 2009.
My tree continues to  populate because of the dedication of another DNA cousin who has even collaborated with George P and she has become more than just a DNA cousin; Yasmin M. is always there as sounding board, a friend and trusted confident.
There are MANY other DNA cousins along the way that have added in great information, shared their family trees, outlined relationships, shared family folklore, gave me roots. Too many to mention here a few off the top of my head …. Karen, Tracie, Roberto, Yolanda, Sylvia, Eric & Emilio, Daniel, Cesar, Martin, Patrick, Teresa, Chastity, Ana, Sofia, Cyndia, Becky, Heriberto, Annette, Peter, Joe, etc. too many to mention!!
From the depths of my heart THANK YOU ALL!!
More details to come – this is the general post so far!!
For those  still looking; DON’T GIVE UP!!!
5.9.17 – Update – I have updated / altered this post to reflect a genealogy spin to it. I cannot honestly say this is a hobby and leave things the way they were. I added in names, dates and places of those that came before me.  Those that have given me a history I can call my own. They gave wings to my tree and it is soaring.
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What’s in a Name?

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What is the name of my Original Tribe?

So, here we are another day unfolding and a bit more info. The latest count on Ancestry.com are over 19,000 DNA matches. Overwhelming on what to do with them. I am so fortunate to have such great DNA matches / cousins that continually assist me. They volunteer their time to help me find my truth; part of it is also theirs. But they have most of their answers; this they do out of their own generosity and for that I am truly grateful!!

My current tree on Ancestry Research Tree: Urdaz Family. all thanks to my cousin George who has uncovered / researched so much information.

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So, what has been uncovered.

My maternal great great grandparents; Pedro [Roman] Urdaz & Juliana Correa; also from Arecibo, PR. There’s a story circulating that Juliana’s dad was from Spain. My my great grandparents; Hipolito Rivera and Francisca Urdaz y Correa, circa 1860’s from Arecibo, PR.  One of their eight children should be my grandparent. From the way the DNA matches are revealing themselves it seems most likely that one of these three Rivera y Urdaz children should turn out to be it: Jose, Angel or Francisco.

Presently I am leaning towards Francisco 1891-? & his wife Guadalupe Soto y Serrano  1896-1984. Angel 1887-1958 was married to Trinidad Ocasio y Cebollero 1889-1925, Jose 1856-1934 was married to Susana Borras y Menendez 1882-1922 and Carmen Santana y Diaz 1894?

Finally,  I can now firmly state that my surnames are:  Rivera, Urdaz, Correa, Roman?, Miranda, and Pollaci – from my life sustaining tribe!

My Own Great Wall Still Standing

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May 2016 So many things to update here ...

There is a breakthrough on my search, for my original tribe – it seems a unique surname; Urdaz, has come up on three separate Ancestry trees where I  have a DNA match. I have reached out to several descendants of Emilio Rivera Urdaz, 1891 – 1957 Arecibo, PR. There’s probably a good chance one of his 9 children could offer some insight to my vague beginnings. However, two have since passed. The one living in NY when I was born is one of those two. Emilio Rivera y Fuentes 1937 – 2001 Queens, NY. He might have held the key. Right now I am waiting to hear back from his daughter, YS, that wonders if we are related. We are; she hasn’t DNA tested yet. We are biologically related! We are family! She is part of my first tribe. How close are we I wonder? A closer relative to Emilio Rivera Urdaz. If I wasn’t adopted; would we have even grown up together? She grew up not more than 40 minutes from me. So close, logistically and biologically!

urdaz post

Then there are few other cousins I reached out – one is very cold when I speak to him on the phone. It didn’t start out that way. In fact the first time we spoke; this second cousin of mine Reynaldo, he seemed genuinely interested in my story and helping me out. Then he went to visit family in PR and has since been very distant the times I have tried to reach out o him on the phone. Another cousin remains in the shadow, Emilio – I have tried to reach out to him via social media and through Ancestry – both so far a bust. Lastly, the the grandson of one of Emilio Rivera Urdaz’ daughter, Daniel has reached out with more of an open hand. We are working to build up that relationship. Although Ancestry recently reconfigured the way they measure SNP’s and we are now a bit further apart on the DNA tree. I don’t think his grandmother ever ventured from PR; so that would make sense.

The most frustrating is a match on ancestry that is just a basic member – with a vague name, no family tree, no identifying information except – female, probably in the NY area and a 1st cousin match. Several attempts at reaching her go answered in the ancestry in-mail system. FIRST COUSIN Match – OH MY!! and I cannot get any information from her. [Big sigh of disappointment as I shake my head]

These walls seem pretty unsurmountable at this point – but eventually something  has to break. Patience is not one of my better traits; but what choice do I have.

Waiting for My Bulldozer …. to answer my lifelong question; Who Am I?

 

Elated!! Ecstatic!!

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Wonderful fabulous week and it’s only Tuesday!!!

I spend so much time on the DNA sites; checking for new matches; looking at names, looking for hints of information. Calculating how can I be related to this person? How can I connect the dots of their life & world to mine. Where do they live now?  Where has their family lived?

Over thinking until I am exhausted and still empty. My cup runneth over with information; but it is too distant for me to make sense of it – YET!!!!

But yesterday …. YESTERDAY I found out I finally have a surname I can call my own … Miranda!!! It’s official! thank good news for MY COUSIN TRACIE, who figured this all out. Her acumen in Gedmatch is to be admired!! I am still pretty green on doing this.

Finally!!  Finally!!!    Finally!!!!   HUGE sigh of relief!!!

Late last night with the last bit of energy I had to stay awake; I exuberantly entered my newly confirmed surname into my profile on Ancestry, FTDNA & 23andme.

It gets better though … I have been in contact via the DNA sites ‘in-mail’, email, phone calls, Facebook, texts and also working on Skype calls.

I have been fortunate to have so many new cousins. These new additions are under the special grouping of primas & family in my contacts. I know each day how increasingly important they have become because each time I see an email or a call or even a FB entry that they have made; I cannot wait to get to it, to answer that call. And when I do, I am smiling from ear to ear! Truly, I consider them friends as well because they are lovely wonderful warm open hearted people.

Well, this Friday I meet my cousin Karen IN THE FLESH.

This is the VERY FIRST COUSINS I WILL MEET IN PERSON!! [squeal squeal squeal].  I cannot wait!

The Universe is working OT!!

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And Gloriously I might add – not a word I use to often, but here, today I FEEL the weight of that particular word!!

More ‘Cousins’ coming out of the woodwork!

If there was a DNA jackpot for responses from new found matches – then this would be the week I hit that pot’o’gold!!!

It as if there is a cosmic connection.

At the beginning of this week, my amazing & very talented [and self-less] an original tribe cousin, Melissa Ulto, released the first installment of her documentary series – COUSINS – RACE, IDENTITY & FAMILY – Trailer 1 or as I would also like to refer to it … ‘Cousin Reunification Project’ – enjoy!! I am proud to say that the participants in this trailer are also all my cousins!  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BARTCgwOxdE&feature=youtu.be 

So, the cosmic ball is rolling and stones are turning over and people are responding from a variety of sources. I have received responses from my 23andme, Ancestry and Gedmatch accounts!!  WOW!!

The secret FaceBook page of Prima y Primo’s … is adding in new ‘family’ on almost a daily basis!

This is so exciting. People coming together.

I can only attribute it to the Universe being included in this quest, request, hope for finding out our truths, finding out our original story and unifying and connecting us even more to our original tribe.

Thank you dear cousins Melissa, and the other stars in our quest to our roots: Teresa, Carmen, Luis, Maddy [brother & husband] & Iris.

Documentary?? Too Good to be true … but THANKS Universe – I would love to!!!

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Since I found out my true story; I tried to do the search thing ‘old school detective style’. It hasn’t yielded any insight into who my birth-parents could be.

After years of disappointing efforts I was enchanted with affordable DNA testing. Here again, my hopes were raised; but not too high, my *closest public relative is about 3.8 generations* from me. There are second cousins on one of them; but for whatever reasons they have chosen to remain that way even after I had contacted them a few times.

However, DNA testing has been incredibly successful in other ways. So many things have come to light: my nationalities, a plethora of family from my ‘Original Tribe’. In addition I have been privy to many family stories – that may or may not also belong to me – yet I have a sense of ownership because even if they aren’t ‘mine’ per-see, they are the stories of my cousins!

In my quest to find my Original Tribe; I have been on adoption sites for years and more recently on Facebook Adoptee / Triad pages. I sporadically will visit the pages. One lucky day, I noticed this post – a lovely woman posted her friends email address to contact if you are interested about your story being documented. Well, it happened to be a great day for me!

I sent a quick email stating my interest to share! Recently, I was contacted by the woman who just completed this documentary – https://www.feeln.com/films/journey-of-dreams. [they are connected to Hallmark – WOW] She had been busy wrapping up a film and hadn’t forgotten about me. ‘Can I share my story with her.’ Well, I gladly did!!

I shared my story; some information that I haven’t been extremely forthcoming about for no other reason than I just wasn’t comfortable; and it seemed that it may make others uncomfortable. I included the newspapers articles from when I was first found and the one from done 35 years later, one of gratitude to my birth mother for having me.

I also am fortunate to have a copy of my foster care records, and the accompanying police report from when I was found. Attached those as well. Being found abandoned at approximately a day old with no knowledge of the birth parents did not make for a successful police investigation. Fifty plus years ago; information was not as easily shared, computers did not exist as they do today and the idea of an **unwanted child** is much more accepted.

Well, I received a response; the team is now considering my story for a documentary. This is huge!! People have been reporting incredible success with just posting their stories on Facebook. A documentary! WOW!! That can be the path to the MY TRUTH that I seek. The path to finding my ‘Original Tribe’.

Thank you Universe!

Thank you to the wonderful people at feeln.com!

Thank you to my wonderful ‘Original Tribe’ family!

Thanks to my ‘Life Sustaining Tribe’, how I got to here and now!

And most of all to my spouse & children that propel every success I achieve!

Note:

*This cousin, ‘3.8 generations’, is one of my closest original tribe family. We are in constant communication and it’s wonderful! AND, there are more cousins that I am also in VERY close contact with, 4th generation and beyond. The thing is, we are friends because we found out we are family. It is a wonderful feeling! We text, email, talk, try to Skype, share on Facebook. We hope to meet soon; for me with two toddlers and working full-time, etc., I have limited time and energy right now; but I look forward to that incredible day!

I guess I would have to call them framily!  They are supportive and informative and try to help me find out more information. I feel so fortunate.

**Now, here I would like to clarify ‘unwanted child.’ I really cannot speak of my birth mother and possibly birth father’s true intentions or feelings. I do not know what motivated her / him / an unknown helper / them. What I do now, they had some kind of spirituality / religion and they believed in the miracle of life. I can only conclude from their actions that they probably knew they were unable to care for an infant / child and hoped for the best.

Finding Our Common Ground

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My search is no closer today than it was months ago

But life is richer having met so many amazing DNA matches that I endearingly refer to as ‘cousins’. A few months back I initiated a ‘private’ Facebook page that is encompassed of my DNA matches and any one in the group is welcome to add in their DNA matches. We have gone different routes to try to pull together the information that everyone is sharing from old family photos, family trees, comparing gedmatch numbers and search tips and reference materials.

This ‘networking’ is a very un-attached type of description for it. Really, this group of 130+ has it’s own personality. It’s a place of warmth, caring, laughter and it’s evolving. Hard describe a Facebook page as that – but really has become my favorite place to catch up. It emits a positive vibe, encourages the members to come a little out of their shell and share and comment.

Today, we try a new forum – a blog / website. I initiated that too – but like the Facebook page; it’s is nothing without the members and their input. We all have different reasons for doing DNA testing and trying to piece together a past that is ours for the taking; the learning; the sharing.

Right now we are all on a path of unearthing that past. From there we will build our trees and see how that root has taken and given us our now. We will add to those branches so we can give our offspring their foundations. This new found ‘family’ is working together, learning together, growing together all due to common ground.