Seach Spotlight: Holle (part 1)

This update by Holle will be followed by a step by step explanation of her search in part 2. It was a humdinger!

I finally received DNA confirmation that my search for my birth father has finally ended! I’ve been looking for his identity since 2011 and it’s been very hard. My birthfather has already passed away, but I’ve learned that I have 3 more half brothers. I met one of them last weekend.


Holle meets one of her brothers for the first time

I want to share a little about my search, because it could help someone else. Not all searches go by the book and mine certainly didn’t. When I found my birth mother in 2011, and she wasn’t forthcoming about my birth father, I started searching immediately. I DNA tested at all three companies and I had a 1st cousin once removed match immediately at 23 and me. I scoured her family trying to figure out who my father could be and got nowhere! I struggled for several years on my own and finally posted to the Search Squad page to see if I could get help. Fate was smiling on me that day, because search angel Amber Decker started working with me!!!

holle and jesse


We worked for 2 ½ years on tree after tree of matches. Through building trees and her innate sense for knowing where and what to do, we uncovered that not only was my birth father an NPE (Non-Paternal Event–meaning actual parent does not match paper trail or was unknown), his mother was as well!!! When people don’t have the last name they are supposed to, it really puts a hitch in things! We managed to identify both my likely NPE paternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother’s NPE father, but continued to struggle to find my birth father because the only documented line we could work with was my paternal grandmother’s maternal line. As if multiple NPEs were not enough of a challenge, that line descends from the Brethren community in Southern Illinois. The Brethren families all tend to have over 10 children and Brethren families intermarried generation after generation, so it made for some extreme frustration.

Luckily, we had the trees made and the infrastructure in place, so that when closer matches finally started popping up (thank you Ancestry for those sales!!!), we were able to get closer and closer. I finally had a match that broke the whole thing open wide….again, she was an NPE and she had no idea that the man she knew to be her father was not biologically related to her!

Once we got her permission to work on identifying that paternal line, we were finally able to identify one of my half brothers through his mother and he actually knew our father’s name, though he had been adopted by his step father and also had a different surname! When we tested him, we finally got confirmation that all our research was correct and we had identified my birth father. My birth father was a bit of a rolling stone and a rascal so he had three other (known!) children, none of whom he parented. He passed away a few years ago, but I have been able to learn more about him from people who knew him.

Holle and bill

Birthfather and Holle

Because Amber and I had solved so many mysteries in this family using DNA, we have not only found my birth father, we have identified a total of FOUR generations of NPEs in my family tree. I admit, I thought it was hopeless many times, but Amber kept working with me and against all odds, we solved not only my mystery, but generations of unknowns for my birth family.


Holle and her brother at their Great Grandmother’s grave