Earlier this year, I was contacted by a man who wanted to find his birth father. Frank had heard from his birth mother that his father's name was Matthew, and that he had Polish ancestry. He had done the Y-37 test at FamilyTreeDNA, and on my advice, took the Ancestry DNA test as well.
His Y-37 results were confusing to him, because most of the matches had the surname Rice, which was his maternal grandmother's maiden name. Out of 33 matches, 24 of them were to men with the last name of Rice. Seven of these men traced their ancestry back to Deacon Edmund Rice, who died in Massachusetts in 1663.
- Your birth father was almost certainly a Rice descendant, and a close relative of your first cousin match.
- Since that name does not match what you were told, it is possible that your father (or his father) was adopted.
- Paternity often goes unknown and undetected by fathers, who might have been present just at the conception, and never knew about their child.
- Adoption and illegitimacy in the mid-twentieth century were often viewed as shameful and secret, hidden for decades.
- The fact that your maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Rice is purely a coincidence and does not have anything to do with your paternal ancestry.
- Since your grandmother's research only goes as far back as the early 1900s, it is entirely possible that her ancestry also goes back to Massachusetts Rice ancestors, including Deacon Edmund Rice.
- This would mean that your birth mother and birth father may be very distant cousins – which is not at all unusual, especially for people with New England ancestry.
My dad Donald Rice and his first wife Sheila had 2 kids, Matthew & Sylvia.
Sheila remarried at some point and her new husband adopted Matthew and Sylvia, and their names were changed from Rice to their stepfather's name.
Unfortunately, Matthew died in 2016. In spite of that, Frank's new-found family welcomed him with photos and memories, and a planned reunion.