Photo of baby - unknown birthparent February 20, 2024

I recently found a birth parent for someone, which is always exciting, but sometimes other interesting stories come out of these discoveries.  This was quite a unique story.  Usually, when someone is looking for a birth parent, it’s the father who is unknown.  In this case, a woman I was helping, named Pattie, was trying to find her birth mom.  She was adopted back in 1955.  Fifty years ago, she found out who her birth father was.  They did get in contact, but never met in person because they didn’t live near each other.  A story about her adoption was told to her that contained some false information.  Was she intentionally misled?  Thanks to the magic of DNA, I found the truth, but another mystery still remains unsolved.

The term "Catfish" refers to someone who uses fake photos or information to trick someone.  If you’ve ever watched the MTV show, Catfish, then you know what I mean.  It’s often done when someone doesn’t want to reveal their true appearance.  This genealogy adventure involved some sort of birthparent mix-up that made me think of Catfish.  Imagine an adopted person being told who their birthmother was and even shown a photo.  Then, years later, they find out the information was false.  I suppose you could call it a "birthparent catfish."  The story went something like this...

Pattie’s birth father was a man named Lloyd.  He had a relationship with a woman named Dorothy.  Everyone called her Dot.  He was working as a bartender in California when he met Dot in 1954.  They dated for a while and she got pregnant.  They didn’t want to get married however.  Lloyd happened to know a couple who recently adopted a child and asked if they would also want to adopt his baby (Pattie).  A private adoption was arranged and Pattie lived with her adopted family and they later moved to Utah.

Pattie’s adopted family knew Lloyd.  When she was old enough, she was told that he was her bio father.  They said they did not know (or couldn’t remember) who the birth mother was.  Lloyd claimed that even he did not remember the mother’s full name.  He only remembers calling her Dot.  Sounds a little "fishy" doesn’t it?  I find it hard to believe that both the father and the adopted parents wouldn’t provide her with the name of the mother.  I would also think the name would have to be written down somewhere.  There had to be some legal paperwork involved in this private adoption.  Lloyd passed away in 1995 and Pattie didn’t find out who her birth mother was or if she was even still alive.  Her adopted parents have also passed away.

Pattie decided to do a DNA test on Ancestry.  This was several years ago.  She had no idea how to figure out who her mother was with DNA.  Years went by, and a few half siblings showed up on the father’s side of the match list.  They were indeed children of Lloyd.  He had several children with several women.  Everything about Pattie’s paternal DNA data made perfect sense.  There was no question about Lloyd being her birthfather.

Not the real birth mother

Who is Dorothy "Dot" Robbins?

Pattie has kept in touch with her half siblings and one of them told her she knew who Dot was.  Her name was Dorothy Robbins.  She said her father even had photographs of Dorothy (A.K.A Dot) and she still had them.  The image shown here is an actual photo of Dot that was given to Pattie.  It is even signed "Love, Dot."  For the past seven years, Pattie has believed this was her mother and even had the picture in a frame.  It would make perfect sense that this woman was indeed Pattie’s birth mom, right?

Well, genealogy research often leads to unexpected results.  Pattie reached out for help with the DNA to find out about her mother.  I answered the call.  Would we be able to find this women?  There was some trickiness with the DNA, but after only one day I had the answer.  There was absolutely no way that any woman named Dorothy Robbins was her birth mother!  Her real birth mother is a woman living in California named Pauline.  She is almost ninety years old and still alive.  I was able to confirm this 100%.

So, why was Pattie tricked?  Her father didn’t simply forget the mother’s last name.  He didn’t even give her information about the correct mother at all.  It could even mean, the whole story about her adoption was made up.  It’s clear he did know a woman named Dot, but who is this mystery Dot?  Is she involved in this in any way?  Is she just an ex-girlfriend he chose simply to avoid revealing the real birth mother?  Was something wrong with the real mother that he didn’t want her to find out about?  We are in process of contacting the real birth mother.  Maybe she will know who the real Dot Robbins is.  I've done some research and thought I found her in Texas.  A woman with that name looked very similar, but it was proven to not be her.  If you know who this Dot Robbins is, please let me know.  I’ll post an update if anything new is discovered.

Next is a step-by-step guide to genetic genealogy.

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