DNA Leads to WWII Serviceman Father

Through DNA testing, Paul Dodds found his biological family—and a father who was a WWII U.S serviceman stationed in Wales.

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As a young man, Paul Dobbs was separated from his father through divorce and emigration. Paul followed him halfway across the world to Canada. Twenty-five years later, Paul learned that he had a different biological father. The search to reclaim this father took him to yet another country—and a new family connection.

WWII child of American serviceman

A story about Paul reported in the Vancouver Sun, tells that as an older adult he discovered he was the child of an American serviceman stationed in Wales during World War II. But his mother couldn’t or wouldn’t identify the man. Even researching the details of a photo she had secreted away didn’t help.

Eventually Paul turned to DNA testing. For any male adoptee seeking his father, the YDNA test is a logical route to take, and is where Paul turned first (probably because other kinds of tests weren’t yet available—but still, it was a good choice!). The YDNA provides an undiluted record of a direct paternal line. This can often help adoptees identify a surname for their paternal line. However, Paul did not have the success he was hoping for with YDNA testing. 

He then turned to autosomal DNA testing. Remember that this kind of test traces both your paternal and maternal lines and reports back to you matches in the database that have predicted relationships like, “2-4th cousins” or “3rd-5th cousins” and then you are left to decipher who your common ancestor might be. 

Paul found a match: a first cousin. 

With the help of his new found cousin and the traditional genealogical records available about servicemen serving in his birthplace of Cardiff at the end of World War II, Paul was able to form a convincing hypothesis about the identity of his biological father. He reached out to a potential half-sibling who agreed to conduct a DNA test to explore this option. 

She was a match. Paul had found his biological family. 

Some relationships take years to mature as threads of shared experiences and ideas slowly come together to form a mutual bond.  But the immediate bond of Paul and his half sister was almost visible- the strength of the DNA cord was evident as Paul described their first meeting saying: “I was out to see her just four weeks ago and I was just over the moon.” 

The story of Paul Dodds is one that represents the search of many who turn to DNA testing for answers to their genealogy.


Ready to walk through the process of using DNA for your genealogy? Let me be your guide! My series of quick reference guides, like this one for YDNA, may help you in your journey to discover a father or direct male ancestor. If you want more personalized help, consider ordering an expert research consultation, where we can sit down together and talk about your personal DNA test questions.


Originally published at www.genealogygems.com