Welcome To The Inaugural Blog: “DNA DOESN’T LIE

Welcome To The Inaugural Blog: “DNA DOESN’T LIE

Hi. I am John F. Suggs and my expertise is in genetic analysis, forensic research and investigation in the field of genetic genealogy where I assist “persons of unknown parentage” such as: adult adoptees, sperm and egg donor’s adult children and others searching for their biological roots. In addition, using the same investigative methods, I have recently expanded my services to include assisting members of Law Enforcement in the solving of criminal cold cases.

DNA Testing and Analysis is an exciting and rapidly evolving field.

Back in the Spring of 2002 when I submitted my New York University Masters Thesis entitled: “Genetic Testing and Privacy: The Role of Anonymous Genetic Testing and Information Technology”, I wish I could say that, in it, I successfully predicted the utter transformation DNA Testing would shortly have on so many aspects of our society. But I didn’t.

Since the first groundbreaking commercial autosomal DNA testing for genealogy was introduced by 23andMe in 2009, the dramatic growth and explosion in this field has been nothing short of astounding. At this point, we are able to reach back 7 generations on both parental lines. The results are connecting us with literally hundreds of hundreds of millions of people long passed and are proving critical in solving even some of the most difficult cases.

And now, in 2018, another major tectonic shift has happened. This past spring it was revealed that, for the very first time, law enforcement had successfully used these same unknown parentage search techniques along with the public DNA database GEDmatch to identify and arrest the (alleged) Golden State Killer. In the ensuing weeks and months more and more cold cases have been successfully solved the same way.

The most prominent and undisputed leader in the field is my friend, colleague and mentor, CeCe Moore, who was recently featured in the New York Times regarding her groundbreaking work using these methods in Law Enforcement Cold Case Investigations.

Last month, just as in the past four years, I spent an entire week with CeCe Moore in her intensive advance DNA Analysis Training program. We discussed the Golden State Killer case and the cutting edge role our profession is now playing in law enforcement. I believe that this moment in time is going to be recognized to be just as significant in the field of law enforcement as the original establishment of two way communication systems in police vehicles. Remember before the “squad car radio”, police had to “report in” using Police Call Boxes on the streets.

And now, just a few days ago we have witnessed yet another significant leap in our field. Instead of solely focusing on decades old cold cases, it was announced that CeCe Moore had successfully used these DNA techniques to identify and arrest an (alleged) 31 year old rapist who had committed the crime in April of this year. This was the 7th arrest that she has been responsible for and this is the first one in “real time”. We are in whole new territory now!

Going forward, it is now going to become virtually common practice for law enforcement organizations to use the very skills and techniques that our field has painstakingly developed and mastered in our searches for birth families of adult adoptee and other persons of unknown parentage to solve not only criminal cold cases but “real time” cases.

Over the years, adult adoptees and their searchers had no choice but to develop these critical skills and techniques precisely because their adoption files and original birth certificates have historically been sealed by the courts. And now it is that very same legal system, which for decades has routinely denied them their original identity and birth records, that is now turning to our fields unknown parentage methods and tools to solve both long standing cold cases and “real time” cases.

That is what this new blog is about. I want to explore with all of you these cutting edge issues of DNA analysis and how it is transforming not only law enforcement and the adoption world but our entire society. I hope that you will join me here and that we can jointly learn from each other. Remember: DNA Doesn’t Lie.

Best, John 

 

I wanted real family connections, and John helped me do that with the utmost care and compassion for my feelings and the feelings of others involved in my search.

I wanted real family connections, and John helped me do that with the utmost care and compassion for my feelings and the feelings of others involved in my search.

If you’re reading this you have arrived at the right place.  My experience with John at Family Orchard was extraordinary!

I had been looking for my birth family for years  and had not been successful until I was introduced to Family Orchard and into the caring hands of John Suggs.

I wanted to discover who I was, but also to discover what made my parents who they were and what kind of life they lived.  I was also interested in an introduction and connection with any family members and brothers and sisters.  John was resourceful, tireless and compassionate at every level.

E.E. Cummings once said “The hardest thing you ever do is to become who you really are.”

And you can’t know that unless you know where you came from and all the components that contribute to making you, you.

Besides a healthy curiosity, I wanted the potential of making real and lasting family connections, and John helped me do that with the utmost care and compassion for my feelings and the feelings of others involved in my search.

I had previously ventured forth on a search of my own six years ago, and although I was successful in locating my brother and niece, I was not successful in getting my communication through to them and my attempts failed at any real response.  I suffered through numerous rejections and was assured when I met John that he would be there through it all and have my back.

John kept all of his promises to me.

And when the time came to make the call to my half sister, the fear associated with the past, reared its head again. It was John who came to my rescue. When the time came for me to make the phone call to my half sister, I was afraid and John  coached me and made the first call for me before my own was made and smoothed the path for us both.

The result, success and such joy for my new sister and myself. We are so incredibly happy about finding each other that words cannot clearly express my gratitude for Johns expertise and compassion.

So, if you’re reading this, don’t hesitate, in starting your own journey. Give John a call. It will be life changing!

Affectionately and respectfully yours,
Jane M.
Cheshire, CT



With his guidance I found my birth father.

With his guidance I found my birth father.

I could not move on with my life. I have a successful career and have grown up in a nice family with loving parents. But I have not married and I do not have children. This is no accident and I knew that my past, the unknown, was keeping me from moving on.

Family Orchard was referred to me by a legal source in the adoption community. I admit I had this card for over a year before I used it. And it is funny that some things really do happen timely.

Mr. Suggs, the founder of Family Orchard, was efficient, supportive, and has a sensitivity and wisdom that was reassuring. Honestly, they were traits I rarely have found in someone outside the adoption triad. I felt understood!

His interesting and impressive background makes him beyond equipped to do this kind of work. My adoption journey has been an emotional and frustrating one, a journey of regret and of lost love found again. Mr. Suggs was patient and sensitive along the way and has provided insight that only a professional could.

When others had failed, when I had tried and backed down so many times and for so many reasons (excuses), Mr. Suggs gently led me down a path I was afraid to travel alone. And it was so worth it! With his guidance, I found my birth father. Because you will learn, once you start working with Mr. Suggs, he won’t take the credit. It has been my search: my journey.

We discussed community resources, books, and documentaries. He opened up a door I had long forgotten I closed! And I remembered a time when I was more involved in the adoption community and utilized resources. It was a refreshing reminder that this journey doesn’t have to be done alone; there are always ways to self-growth and ways to connect to others if you want it!

It has taken ten years but I found both my biological parents and reunited them with each other. (And it is quite a story.) What this reunion may turn into is still unknown. For me, the search was never about a relationship, although this has been a nice residual effect. My adoption journey has been about finding truths and about letting go, letting go of the past, letting go of regret, and letting go of the burden of wonder.

The most surprising feeling I still have is empowerment. I set a goal and it wasn’t easy but I did it. I did it! AND YOU CAN TOO. The time is now.

Family Orchard is a resource you can trust. It is a professional service that will deliver. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Thank you.

Kathryn S.
Hartford, CT

91-Year-Old Mystery Solved

91-Year-Old Mystery Solved

John did the seemingly impossible. He solved a 91-year-old family mystery and successfully found my birth grandmother’s next of kin – an 85-year-old nephew – who was able to finally tell us about my birth grandmother who would have been 111 years old if she had still been alive!

When it was finally solved, John shared with me that my family’s case was the hardest case he has ever tackled. He ended up working on it for over 9 years. Overall those long years, he showed a remarkable resiliency and dedication to both my mother and me. He faithfully and regularly checked in with us, giving us search status reports even when there was nothing new he had to report and he never, ever gave up.

My mother is now 91 years old and ailing. She does not have a lot of time left and we had begun to believe that we would never find out what happened to her Birth Mother after all these years. John always understood how important it was for me that we find the answers about her birth mother before she passes on. And John did it! I was able to share the news of his discovery with my mom was just a week before her 91st Birthday.

We were both in shock. All we ever knew was that my mom had been abandoned by her birth mom at 3 months old in 1923 and was raised by her birth father and paternal birth grandparents. Since there was no formal relinquishment of parental rights or adoption involved there were no legal records for us to attempt to access. The only thing I ever had was the name of my Grandmother. Nothing else. And, unfortunately, it was a fairly common name.

The “official story” told by her father and paternal grandmother was that one morning, she simply got up, said that she couldn’t do this anymore and walked out on her baby and husband and never looked back. As you might imagine after being told this, my mom has lived her whole life angry at her mother for abandoning her and with very little desire to find out whatever happened to her as a result. She simply believed the story and never felt the need to know anymore. It was my sister and me who always felt that there was more to this story than she was told. There simply had to be. And, thanks to John, we now know that my mom’s father and her paternal grandmother had repeatedly lied to her about the circumstances of her mothers leaving.

I first approached John over 9 years ago and asked him for his help. After years of painstakingly considering and then eliminating virtually every other person who had a similar name and who was alive at the same time and who had ever lived in the large metropolitan area where my mom was born, basically going down one dead end after another, John finally found and spoke to my birth grandmother’s 85 year old nephew – her “next-of-kin”.

This nephew confirmed that my birth grandmother was his Aunt but even more importantly he told us that back in 1923 – before he was even born but just months after my mom was born – his Aunt suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. Both my birth grandmother’s younger brother (his father) and my birth grandmother’s father had filed missing persons report with the police and had spent years searching for her but to no avail. They eventually and regretfully came to the conclusion that she must have met with foul play. For there had never been any “falling out” between them and it was the only logical reason why she would have disappeared without a trace.

After John shared this news with me, I drove over to my mom’s and shared it with her. At first, she couldn’t wrap her mind around it. All her life she had believed what she had been told – that her birth mother had simply just walked away – abandoning her – never once coming back or attempting to contact her.

Thanks to John finding her next-of-kin, we now know that she not only left my mom as a 3-month-old baby and her husband but, at the same time, she also went missing from her own family. If she had just walked away from a bad marriage and/or was suffering from post-partum depression following the birth of her baby daughter – like we always thought – then her family would most likely still have known what had become of her. But she disappeared at the exact same time from her own parents and brother as well. And they spent years trying to find out what had happened to her.

So my 91-year-old mom now knows, for the very first time in her life, that she was not abandoned by her birth mother but, instead, that her birth mother was taken from her just as she was taken from her own family. And she knows that her mother’s family had searched and grieved for her.

I have since spoken at length to my newly found 85-year-old cousin and have delighted in getting to know him and learning more about that side of my family. I suspect that we will never know the specific circumstances of her death but the fact that she did die is now beyond doubt.

I understood when John told me, at the end of this long search, that it has been the most difficult case he has ever undertaken. Because she disappeared at the young age of 20 she never left much of a record or trail behind for any of us to be able to follow. The fact that he eventually managed to find her 83-year-old nephew still alive and who could verify the story of her disappearance – when virtually everyone else involved were long gone – well, it is nothing short of miraculous.

I can’t say enough good things about John. He is absolutely tenacious in his efforts. He never gave up and he always, faithfully, kept in touch with us over the years. Even when he had no news to share – he would check in. I can’t recommend him any higher than this: Should you find yourself in the midst of a difficult family search John Suggs is the person you want to have in your corner.

Thank you, John! You gave my mother the most priceless gift anyone could have ever given her. You gave her back to her mother.

Everything changed for me in the single moment when I finally met my birth mother face to face.

Everything changed for me in the single moment when I finally met my birth mother face to face.

I’ve often heard the phrase that sometimes your whole life can change for the better in just an instant. A split second. The amount of time it takes to snap your fingers. But I never really believed it until it actually happened to me. Everything changed for me in the single moment when I finally met my birth mother face to face.

That precious moment would not have happened without the guidance and expertise of John Suggs. After nearly twenty years of on and off searching on my own, I contacted Catholic Charities and initiated an official search by the agency through which I was adopted. I waited a year and a half, only to be told that they had no luck and that they wished me well.

But by this time, I was not about to give up and came across John’s Family Orchard website. I was impressed by the testimonials, but even those couldn’t fully prepare me for who I was about to meet. Mr. Suggs is nothing short of a miracle to me. From the moment I met him, it was clear that he took this process seriously and firmly believed in the premise that ALL adoptees have a right to know who they are. John then proceeded to actually find my birth mother’s name in a matter of hours. That is right. He had her name that fast! He then spent the next few days searching and searching for her. Although that part took longer – she had moved around quite a bit – he was always confident and reassuring. His empathetic demeanor made this highly emotionally charged time much easier to bear. For the first time in this process, I was not alone – I had an ally!

Once we finally found where she was living we were still stuck because we could not locate a working phone number for her. This meant that I could not reach out and call her which was my preferred way of initiating contact. So what do I do now, without a phone number? I was absolutely terrified of the idea of just showing up on her doorstep. That was something that I simply could not bring myself to do. She already gave me away once, I thought. What would I do if she rejected me again? That I could not handle. So, after calmly listening to me express all my fears and worries, John gently said that, while he makes a point of not doing this because he doesn’t believe that he – or anyone else – has the right to interject themselves into this critical moment, if I wished he would go to see her personally first. Yes, please! Go talk to her and find out if she wants to meet me! If it was to be bad news I would much rather hear it from John.

So, with my permission, he went to her home. And that afternoon, he called me with the best news ever…my mother wanted to meet me! She had never stopped thinking about me. She was thrilled that I had finally found her and was contacting her! Twenty-four hours later, there I was, standing before her, feeling complete for the first time in my 48 years!! We had a wonderful visit – and have continued to talk (and talk, and talk!) and have had continued visits. I look forward to meeting my half-siblings next!

While it is easy to explain that John is efficient and determined in the technical aspects of his work, it is harder to explain his compassion and deep empathy for the situations of adoptees and birth mothers alike. Needless to say, this is a situation fraught with a whirlwind of emotions. At times, I thought the stress might kill me, but John was there to hold me up and encourage me every step of the way. He always kept in close contact and never left me to deal with any aspect of this journey unsupported. I owe him a debt of gratitude that I could never repay – he filled in my blanks, he reunited me with a loving and wonderful birth mom – I now live with a contentment that I’ve never known…how do you possibly thank someone for that? So please…if you are in the beginning stages of this journey, or if you’ve tried for years and exhausted all your options….call John Suggs – you won’t regret it!

With Deepest gratitude,
Victoria F.
Middlebury, CT