Technology provides history back as far as 15 generations
After all of her adopted family passed away, Chanute resident Kristy Thomas almost had given up on finding her birth family.
Thanks to new DNA technology, Thomas has gained a new set of relatives since May and ancestors going back to the 1400s.
“I’m just so full of joy,” Thomas said.
Thomas moved to Chanute four years ago to be near her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. She was born in Kansas City, Mo., and grew up on a farm in Brooks County.
She said she has known all her life that she was adopted. Her adoptive parents, Wilton and Doris Kellogg, adopted her when she was a month old. By the time they reached Emporia, they had decided to name her after a grandfather and the ex-girlfriend of Doris’ brother.
“They always told me I was a chosen child,” Thomas said, adding that her family also included a younger brother.
“When you’re adopted, there’s always a hole in your heart,” she said, “but not because you’re not loved.”
She said she would wander the streets, see people and wonder.
“Could that be my dad?” she said.
When she was 18, she got onto adoption registries in Missouri and nationally. She also saw an original birth certificate in 1990 that her adoptive parents kept in a safe, but the birth parents’ names were redacted.
“There was no one looking for me all those years,” Thomas said.
She turned 60 in April and at the end of the month, received results back from the website AncestryDNA.com.
The results showed high probability of matches to other people who had sent in DNA samples, with the initials of people who might be matches.
Through the website, Thomas was able to message someone who turned out to be a paternal uncle.
“He responded right back,” she said.
When the information came back, it was eventually determined that her father, Luvern Solien, was one of five brothers from Minnesota. The uncle knew which brother it was from Thomas’ circumstances, because Solien had been in St. Joseph, Mo., after the Korean War.
After contacting the uncle and a first cousin on her father’s side, Thomas then established her birth mother’s side, although not all of the family has learned about it yet.
Although her birth mother died in Savanna, Mo., in 1994, Thomas discovered she had four half-siblings on her father’s side and a half-sister on her mother’s. In addition to her father’s four brothers, her mother was a twin and one of 14 children.
She said it has been fascinating to see how far back the genealogical information goes.
“Finding captains and Native Americans,” Thomas said.
Her five-time great-grandfather, Hard Striker Sunfish born in 1642, was chief of the Cherokee Nation. She also is descended from Peder Monsen, born 1402 in Denmark.
“We’re a lot of Scandinavians,” Thomas said.
Her new relatives are sending photos.
“All my height comes from my father’s side,” Thomas said.
They also talk often by phone.
“We have all been talking and planning meet-ups,” Thomas said.
She said she wants her results to be an encouragement to other adopted children searching for birth relatives. She said when she was growing up, she never looked like her adopted family.
“When you look at my father’s hands, I see my son’s hands,” Thomas said.