14 January 2022

Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family by Rebecca Daniels Guest Review & Excerpt!

Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels
Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family by Rebecca Daniels

Publisher: Sunbury Press (September 14, 2021)
Category: Non Fiction, Memoir, Genetic Genealogy, Adoption, Family Reunion, Extended Families
Tour dates: January-February, 2022
ISBN: 978-1620065587
Available in Print and ebook, 125 pages

  Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

Description Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

Where does she come from?
Who are her genetic parents?
Who is she?
Does she even want to know? 

With almost no information of her genetic heritage, adoptee Rebecca Daniels follows limited clues and uses DNA testing, genealogical research, thoughtful letter writing, and a willingness to make awkward phone calls with strangers to finally find her birth parents. But along the way, she finds much more.

Two half-sisters. A slew of cousins on both sides. A family waiting to be discovered.

With the assistance of a distant cousin in Sweden and several other DNA angels on the internet, Daniels finally comes face to face with her birth mother just months before her passing. Join in on this author’s discovery of family and self in ‘Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family.’

Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

Guest Review by Laura Lee

An absolutely fascinating look at genealogy, DNA and what it means to be family, 'Finding Sisters: How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family,' by Rebecca Daniels is the kind of memoir that you just can't put down.

Adopted as an infant, Daniels spent most of her life unsure of where she came from. Although she loved and appreciated her adoptive parents, she still found that she had a longing to discover her true origins and find out who her biological parents actually were and why they felt the need to give her up. This became stronger after her adoptive parents both passed and as the years have passed.

After deciding to submit her DNA to an internet ancestry service, Daniels received several distant matches, including a distant cousin, Thomas, in Sweden who became interested in helping her find her birth parents. The discoveries that followed changed Daniels' life forever and brought a host of new family members into her life.

Daniels' writing takes what might have been a dry premise and truly makes it sing in ways that I wouldn't have thought possible. I loved how she described the new characters that she was meeting and how she found pieces of herself in them.

In following along with this book, the reader feels what the author, herself must have felt while waiting for new emails to come in from her 'Swedish Cousin' about new connections that he had found apart from her own discoveries.

Apart from learning about Daniels' herself, a lot of interesting information about the science behind familial DNA and how internet ancestry sites work is brought into the book in a very evenly paced and well-rounded way.

This is non-fiction that reads like an intriguing mystery novel with just as many twists and turns. A treat for both the brain and the heart, 'Finding Sisters' is one of a kind and an unforgettable read! 

 Interview With Rebecca Daniels

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? 

I was trained in the theatre (actor/singer), so I know how to “perform” for the public, whether that performance is scripted or improvisational, and people see me as comfortable in the public eye, but the thing that seems to surprise them the most is that I’m actually an introvert when it comes to my personal life and social preferences.

 

Have you always enjoyed writing? 

Yes, I’ve always loved storytelling and writing. In fact, I wrote and illustrated my first “book” in elementary school about a trip our family took to Mexico. I’ve given up on the illustration part, but I still do love writing all these decades later.

 
What motivates you to write? 

When there’s a good story that needs telling and I haven’t found it anywhere else, then I want to write about it. Though I mostly write what’s called creative non-fiction, it’s not about the genre as much as it is about a particular story I want to tell.

 

What books did you love growing up? 

Books about girls having adventures (not necessarily physical ones), complicated lives, and big dreams, such as The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and Emily of New Moon. I also loved the Nancy Drew mysteries.

 

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? 

I grew up in a semi-rural small suburb of Portland, Oregon, and I was definitely what we might now call a “free-range kid.” My folks were strict, and my brother and I mostly obeyed them, but we had a lot of freedom to roam our neighbourhood unsupervised during the day, so I developed a strong sense of independence at a young age. For much of my life, I lived on the west coast, mostly in Oregon, where I grew up and lived and worked after college, and northern California, where I went to college. After graduate school, I took a university teaching position at a small liberal arts college in northern New York State (almost to the Canadian border), where I lived and worked for nearly 25 years, and in retirement I’m now living in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts to be near my grandchildren. I think the mostly small community life, with active connections to my friends and neighbors, has definitely influenced me to pay attention to what’s happening around me on a daily basis.

 

How did you develop your writing?

Just kept on writing. And reading a lot of different kinds of books, good books, as well as listening to advice people gave me about my writing. I had some really good teachers and terrific opportunities to try different kinds of writing through the years, which allowed me to find the kind of writing that suited me particularly well while also engaging my audiences.

 

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? 

Marketing, hands down!

 

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you? 

Yes, family and friends are all quite supportive. They encourage my writing and buy my books when they come out. Some of them are even willing to read projects in process and give me feedback along the way, which is invaluable.

 

What else do you do, other than write? 

I read a lot, listen to music (all kinds), garden (just recently replaced a section of lawn by seeding a new meadow area…can’t wait for spring to see what will happen there!), hang out with my grandkids (currently 14 and 11), and enjoy the company of good friends as often as possible. When I was younger, I also enjoyed traveling and have been to many US states (including Alaska and Hawai’i, among many others), Canada (mostly British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec), and abroad to England, Ireland, Wales, France, Australia, Nepal, and India.

 

What other jobs have you had in your life? 

Early in my working life, I was experimenting with what I wanted to be when I grew up. Most noteworthy of the many different jobs I held in those years was as a singing telegram messenger for Western Onion and as a high-tech head-hunter working with systems analysts and software engineers. Once I finally realized that my passion for theatre was more than just a hobby, I founded and ran a small semi-professional theatre for about a decade where, in addition to being the producing director for the entire operation, I also directed about half of the shows we produced for the public. Then after going back to school for a graduate degree, I taught acting, directing, and playwriting at the college level for nearly 25 years. While writing has definitely been a big part of those jobs over the years, it has become my main job in my retirement from the university life.

 

Tell us about your family? 

The family I grew up in was pretty typical for the 1950s: working dad (WWII vet), homemaker mom, two kids. My brother and I were both adopted, but that never seemed to make any difference in how the family operated. Both parents are deceased now, but I’m still close to my brother, sister-in-law and two nephews, though we live on opposite sides of the country. I have been married twice. The first time didn’t work out, and after about 15 years of living alone, the second marriage left me a widow unexpectedly after just six years together, but it also brought me the gift of a wonderful new family that is the mainstay of my current emotional life. I have a stepdaughter, son-in-law, and two wonderful grandchildren living close by, and I see them regularly. And, if course, I have a large extended genetic family (brand new to me in the past several years) that I recently discovered through DNA testing, which is why I wrote Finding Sisters.

 

How do you write – laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

I often start to write in my head, which means that can happen just about anywhere. And I take notes with pen and paper whenever an idea occurs to me that I think is important enough to jot down. When it comes to getting words down in a more organized fashion, I tend to write on a laptop in my living room recliner. However, the first draft is more or less a brain dump of everything I think I want to say and is always in need of many revisions. I tend to do my editing and revising on a printed copy of the draft before getting those revisions into the computer.

 

How much sleep do you need to be your best?

Definitely need a full night’s sleep, which for me means about seven+ hours. Luckily for me, I don’t struggle with insomnia as many of my friends and family members do. Frankly, I haven’t used an alarm clock for years. My body regulates my sleeping and waking patterns, and it’s been the same (in bed around 10-10:30 p.m. and up between 6-6:30 a.m.) for years, regardless of whether it’s a weekday or weekend. I think that kind of stability in my sleeping pattern keeps my thinking sharp.

 

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax? 

I love to read; it takes me out of myself and into new adventures. During warmer months, I love sitting comfortably on my deck outside and watching and listening to the critters who frequent my garden (mostly insects/butterflies, birds, and the occasional small mammal, usually squirrels and the occasional neighborhood cat).

Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

About Rebecca Daniels

Rebecca Daniels (MFA, PhD) taught performance, writing, and speaking in liberal arts universities for over 25 years, including St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, from 1992-2015. She was the founding producing director of Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR, and directed with many professional Portland theatre companies in the 1980s. 

She is the author of the groundbreaking Women Stage Directors Speak: Exploring the Effects of Gender on Their Work (McFarland, 1996, 2000) and has been published in multiple professional theatre journals. After her retirement from teaching, she began her association with Sunbury Press with Keeping the Lights on for Ike: Daily Life of a Utilities Engineer at AFHQ in Europe During WWII; or, What to Say in Letters Home When You're Not Allowed to Write about the War (Sunbury Press, 2019), a book based on her father’s letters home from Europe during WWII. 

She had always known she was adopted, but it was only as retirement approached, and with a friend’s encouragement, that she began the search for her genetic heritage through DNA testing. Finding Sisters explores how DNA testing, combined with traditional genealogical research, helped her find her genetic parents, two half-sisters, and other relatives in spite of being given up for a closed adoption at birth. 

She is currently working on a new memoir about her late-in-life second marriage and sudden widowhood titled Adventures with the Bartender: Finding and Losing the Love of my Life in Six Short Years. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.daniels.9

Buy Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

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Giveaway Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

This giveaway is for 1 print copy and 1 pdf copy. Print is open to the U.S. only and pdf is open worldwide. This giveaway ends on February 26, 2022, midnight, pacific time.  Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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  Finding Sisters by Rebecca Daniels

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed 'Finding Sisters' so much. Thanks for hosting Rebecca!

    ReplyDelete

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