MyHeritage announces a new pro bono initiative — DNA Quest - for ADOPTEES!

DNA Quest

has been created to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through DNA testing. 

As part of DNA Quest, MyHeritage is giving out 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits — worth more than one million dollars — for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants. 

Participation is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, or anyone looking for a family member who was placed for adoption. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing, and to those who apply first. The first phase of the initiative is open to U.S. residents, involving adoptions that took place in the U.S. Additional phases may be considered in the future based on the success of the first phase, which begins now. Future phases may include other countries as well as additional circumstances, such as children of sperm donors and non-paternity events.

Adoptees and family members searching for their biological relatives can apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at through April 30, 2018. Participants will be selected, and their free DNA kits will be shipped to them by the end of May 2018. Results are expected as early as July 2018. The DNA Quest website includes additional information about the initiative, and a detailed section with answers to frequently asked questions.

Those who have already taken a DNA test with another company are invited to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage for free and participate in this initiative as well.

We can only urge you to participate. Being a child of an adoptee and having a brother who was adopted and participating in DNA since its inception in 2001 and having just found the biological parents of my mother, this should be quite an initiative to speed up the process for sure. 

Why would one DNA test?

Many answers! We have discussed DNA testing with so many people recently, some who say, "I know who my family is, why should I test?"! Well maybe you do and maybe you don't! And maybe, just maybe, your DNA holds the only key to someone else's mystery! 

Why we love this image? We are all as unique and colorful as our DNA says we are. 

Why we love this image? We are all as unique and colorful as our DNA says we are. 

Then there are people who say, I plan to test, but have just not gotten around to it. 

Then there are people who were adopted, had a parent or sibling who was adopted, or a client who discovered their sibling was their half sibling or the client who came from a sperm donor or the client who came from a country where the records were destroyed during wars or the client whose DNA does not match what they have long believed that may go back several generations. In essence, DNA does not add up!  

Then there are the clients who simply want to know their genetic makeup, do they have Native American, African American or other ethnic origins? 

During my stint as Founder and President of JewishGen, it was amazing how many users joined because they felt they were Jewish or believed they had some Jewish ancestry but were not raised in the faith. And then there are clients who believe they descend from an individual but DNA is proving it not to be the case. These tend to be the most difficult.

DNA does indeed hold the answers! One thing for certain, after being involved in DNA for genealogical purposes since 2001, we know it does not lie. 

For example, a new found cousin who tested a few months back recently said, "I just tested to know my genetic makeup. I thought there might be some unknown ethnic origins!" This individual had no idea they were in essence "paying it forward" to solving an 89 year old mystery. WOW! A feel good moment, no doubt.

So on the heels of our recent find outlined in a blog of a few days ago, it seemed like a natural thing to do. To provide a one stop place for you to ORDER DNA KITS, whether it is from one or all the testing companies, AncestryDNA, FamilyTree DNA, MyHeritage DNA and 23andMe. They are each as unique as our DNA! 

And because we are adamant of the importance for everyone to DNA test, whether for your own edification or even to just pay it forward, for two days only, we are offering a FREE EMAIL consult for anyone who is uncertain as to what DNA kit to order. 

Let's get it done! 





How does it feel to no longer be a seed in the wind? 


This professional genealogist spent the majority of her career and her whole life with a family tree that was bare on one side. Sure, we filled it in with the huge German family from Chicago who adopted my mother, illustrious as they were, we were carrying around the knowledge it really did not fit who we were. While an exercise, perhaps it was so there was no emptiness, a feeling we have come to realize is one so many adoptees have come to know. And it does not end there... there is a tremendous sense of abandonment, a feeling of not belonging and of course the inevitable question, Who am I?

While my mother passed away in 1992, we began this journey together shortly before her passing. We had learned from The Cradle Society some un-identifying information regarding her biological parents.  We had heard some stories from the family that may have provided some additional clues and we had known there was a letter my adopted grandfather had left for her with a friend to be given to her upon his death in 1956 that was never passed on. 

In 1998, long before ancestry DNA appeared and 6 years after her passing, we traveled to Chicago and successfully had her adoption papers unsealed by the court. We learned her mother was Libbie Marks and no father was listed. 

For decades as the 1930 and 1940 US Census' were released we searched for this Libbie Marks in Chicago to no avail. 

Fast forward to two years ago, an anonymous 2nd cousin match appeared on 23andMe. It took nearly a year for this individual to reveal himself. A quick look at his tree had our heart palpitating... there was a Libbie, the sister to his grandmother... but it was not Libbie Marks. 

Pictures flew back and forth, the resemblance, uncanny and over the months we learned more and more about Libbie and the un-identifying information was actually fact. We were certain her biological mother had been found. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. While triangulating DNA with what we now knew, finding her biological father's family seemed impossible. The connections were just to distant to put a finger on. We knew the number of Cohen DNA connections were numerous but the surname too common to isolate.

But then a connection to my brother's DNA on Family Tree DNA surfaced... and while it took only a week to get a response, it was like eons, several lifetimes. The information provided by the contact, we created a tree, then we were able to connect another tree with another high match on my DNA on AncestryDNA whose tree interestingly enough did not include the surname of their grandmother. The two connected on a Cohen family and the sister to the grandmother of my brother's match on FTDNA. 

With the excitement and high level of adrenaline flowing, the floodgates opened last week as we began to meet our new found cousins on Facebook and by phone and yet another revealed they had tested and there it was, the DNA match to the third of four siblings, two females and two males. The only unidentifying information on her biological father... he had blue eyes and was an immigrant. BINGO! 

While we await the results now of a grandchild of the last male sibling... there is no question our seed has finally been planted and is taking root in a family unknown to us just a few weeks ago. And with this knowledge it never ceases to amaze how all the DNA connections across all the testing sites are finally are making sense. 

While we have experienced this same excitement and adrenaline rush with many of the clients we have served over the years with the same questions and the same need to plant their seed, the overwhelming sense of peace of having our roots being firmly planted is indeed real! It has made us whole! 

And now for the synchronicity of events surrounding this recent find. 

On January 18th of this year we were having a heart to heart on re-developing our website with Althea Gray, a dear friend and a professional healer. It was during this conversation she mentioned an old Native American saying... which we immediately tag-lined on our website. 


There is power in this saying, no doubt. Who would have thought that in just 10 days, January 28th, the first email went out to the new DNA connection and the first response arrived on February 5th. 

And in just 18 days we are no longer a seed in the wind! What a journey this has been and as a professional genealogist we are always interested in sharing your journey with you. Perhaps one synchronicity can lead to another. 

And if you need to order DNA tests, you can do it here





Should You upload YOUR RAW DNA to MyHeritage?

Quick answer is yes. MyHeritage has emerged as yet another major player in the field of ancestry DNA testing sites. They currently are allowing free uploads from FamilyTreeDNA (Family Finder), AncestryDNA and 23andMe.

And if you have not tested anywhere else, for $59 one can order their DNA test through today, January 29th! Regular price is $99. 

MyHeritage has provided some unique tools to visualize how you are genetically connected to others, if indeed this is your primary purpose. Make sure you upload your family tree to take full advantage of these tools.

If you are time or technically challenged, we can provide this service for you


Or go directly to their site by clicking on the logo! 


What if research into your family takes on some surprising tones?

Source: What It Was Like...short stories of childhood memories of segregation in America by Lois Watkins

Well it does in all kinds of families despite religious affiliation, race or creed and these finds are evident through either traditional genealogy research or through the newest technological advances in ancestry DNA matches.

What will you do? Hopefully you will proudly honor them and add them to your family tree! 

Back story:

Maurene Olivia Waterman Bencal happened on a FindAGrave memorial for Adolph C Felsenthal, a son of a Jewish immigrant from Germany. On the old site, there was a message posted by the author of this source book which read:

"This is going to come as quite a shock to you! My grandmother was Daisy Anastasia Felsenthal Hankins. Her father was Adolph Felsenthal! Her mother was Martha Archer, an African American whose grandmother was a slave! 

Adolph Felsenthal's biography indicates that he had no children. He did, my grandmother! She is the spitting image of him!

We hold Adolph Felsenthal in high esteem in my family because even though this took place in the deep South, Camden, he never denied her! He sent my grandmother to a Catholic convent school for girls where she graduated with a high school education. The convent was in Pine Bluff!

To demonstrate the manner of man that he was, upon his daughter's graduation, my grandmother, he donated a stain glass window to the church, WHICH IS STILL IN THE WINDOW, you can see for yourself. 

So, when we read that Adolph Felsenthal had no children, we always say that he did! 

Oh, and to show you the relationship, my grandmother named her first son Adolph!!!

Added by Lois Watkins on Oct 08, 2015 1:51 PM

Stained glass window remains in St. Peter Church

Maurene shared this story recently as follows:

"To my Felsenthal, Greenebaum and Herz family: A Love Story.

Adolph C. Felsenthal was the 3rd great grandson of Isaak Jacob and Johanna Hertz (my 5th great-grandparents). His father was David Felsenthal, who was Rabbi Bernhard Felsenthal’s brother. David emigrated to the USA first settling in Kentucky where Adolph was born a first generation American. The family eventually settled in Camden, Arkansas, where they are first found in the 1870 Census, when Adolph was 6 years old.

Adolph (1863-1943) was a prominent businessman in Camden, the county and the state Arkansas. As a young man in his early 20s, he fell in love with a Black teenager named Martha Bowie (1868-before 1915). Martha became pregnant with Adolph’s child. Adolph wanted Martha to marry him and move to Chicago where he thought their interracial marriage would be accepted. Martha refused. Adolph did not marry until after Martha’s death.

15 May 1885 Daisy Anastasia Felsenthal was born. Adolph never denied paternity of Daisy. He educated her in one of the most exclusive Catholic schools in the area for Black girls, a convent school associated with St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Upon Daisy’s graduation from high school, Adolph donated a stained glass window to the church in Daisy’s honor, where the stain glassed window remains today.

Daisy went on to marry having 10 children and 19 grandchildren. Adolph had no other children."