Filling in the blanks

1 minute read

AP reporter Matt Crenson has a story on the "twisted path" of one man's DNA-aided search for his biological father.

Nobody ever told [Martin] Marshall how to approach people to ask for their DNA. Nobody ever explained how to tell a complete stranger that maybe, just possibly, the man who raised him — the man who played catch with him in the yard, who taught him to drive, who sent him off to war and welcomed him home — may have cheated on his mother.
"What are the procedures," Marshall asks. "Where's the handbook for how you go about doing this kind of research?"

The story goes through Marshall's search for his father from the very beginning, leading down several dead-end trails and failed attempts at DNA matches. The last one is the most poignant -- both because he tries the hardest to make it happen, and because of the result.

I linked to a similar story earlier this month. A few people e-mailed me, letting me know that reporters had been frequenting genealogy mailing lists looking for stories -- which aren't, of course, characteristic of most people's experiences.

What I like about the current story is that it illustrates both positives and negatives. Marshall received helpful advice and cooperation from genealogy groups and many possible relatives, but at the same time became so attached to his quest that one possible relative felt he was being "stalked". The story gives enough detail to understand both Marshall's point of view and the opposite perspective.