Puzzle Pieces: PART 1

Hey all.

This is me with my 3rd cousin KIM. AKA one of the first pieces to my missing puzzle. Finding him was a bit like striking gold… I am listed as Kim’s 3rd cousin on Ancestry.com and Kim is Diann’s husband and Troy’s father and they are the ones who helped me find my birth parents and the ones you will be reading much more about here.

He lives 1 hour away from me but I never knew of him until doing a DNA KIT, and I had never met him until after finding my birth parents with Troy & Diann’s help. This photo was taken after months of searching for my birth family and just a few days before meeting my birth mom in person, when he and his family met me and mine for the first time. He is a very kind and quiet man who has endured many health issues over the years and I feel so lucky to have met he who became the missing link to figuring out my story. If it weren’t for my relation to him and the help of his wife & his son I don’t know that I would’ve ever been able to figure it out on my own.

Me with my SEARCH ANGELS Diann & Troy

Now that you have some faces to the names, follow along for details in multiple parts of how we found my family.


When I got my DNA results back it was like finding those first few pieces of a 1,000 piece puzzle, ya know the ones that build your first good section, which is exciting but also makes you realize how many more pieces I still needed to find.

DNA was the first piece of the puzzle, there was still a long ways to go, but at least it was a starting point and more information than I ever had before. Having genetics, and newfound relatives willing to help me meant that the things were about to start falling into place, and that was super exciting.

When I first began emailing with Troy and Diann we weren’t quite sure where to start so we began with the tidbits that we knew aka – My VERY BASIC information that was listed in my adoption paperwork.

This basic info about my birth mother & birth father pictured below consists mostly physical characteristics they filled out about themselves, their parents & their siblings. Then there were a few pages in the form of a questionnaire getting a few answers about their hobbies and interests.

An example of each of their forms.

They both filled out about 3-4 pages and that was the extent of what I knew about my biological parents up till now.

A few other key points that I included:

  • Placed for adoption through LDS FAMILY SERVICES.
  • It was a closed adoption = I have no names.
  • I have one blood brother. He & I have the same birth mom but separate birth fathers. My brother was born January 1989 & she had me November 1990.
  • My parents have said that through the adoption process they were lead to believe that my birth mom was possibly from Wyoming but was living either in Cache Valley, UT or somewhere close to it for the duration of her pregnancies. As her paperwork said that her parents were aware of her pregnancies but none of her siblings knew of it. My brother & I were both born in Cache Valley, UT and that is where our adoptions took place.

So ya know…not a ton to go off of. Which made this search feel mostly impossible. How in the world would we find my birth parents with such little info? That’s all I could think of. The game changer or so I hoped was that now I had DNA testing on my side.

After sending all of the above information I began emailing back and forth with Troy & Diann. Once this began we simply couldn’t stop, any little piece that we found or clue or possibility was super addicting to keep going. Troy likes to refer to himself as an internet Sherlocker and it definitely did feel like one bit Sherlock Holmes solving hunt. But extra fun when it’s your own mystery coming to life.

I will edit some of our emails out as some of the info is either personal or not important for anyone else to know. But hopefully in sharing some of these points others out there reading this or trying to do their own search will be able to see how our process of elimination went and be able to apply it to their own search.

The first day started out with Diann sending me KIM’s family fan chart…

Then the discussion began…

“I was not aware of the SHARED MATCHES link, what a great tool.  I was surprised to find that many of the relatives that you have in common with Kim are through his mother’s line.  I had expected it might be through his dad’s line since they’re the ones in Wyoming.  So look at the chart – Kim -then his mother Adelia Lindsay.  Many of the cousins you have in common with Kim are from Adelia’s immediate family.  Her parent were Hyrum Lester Lindsay and Vara Mouritsen.  Her sister Elizabeth married a Williams and I see some of those as well.  Sister Imogene married a Rich. Then if you follow the chart back one more generation you will find Vara’s father Mourits Mouritsen.  I notice that you and Kim also have Mouritsen relatives in common.  We have a book on the Mouritsen family but just off the top of my head I’d say the Mouritsens and Lindsays  were early settlers of the Bennington, Idaho area.” – Diann 

After getting this info from Diann, Troy decided to start a google doc page to organize the info we were getting and needing to highlight or come back to. This was a helpful step as any new leads or possible leads we would put it there for referencing and to keep it all in one spot. Because let me tell you endless emails back and forth can get confusing real quick!

The next email from Diann blew my mind as I read through and saw her going through the process of elimination. The things she put together I never would of been able to do.

She wrote…

“I have stumbled upon an interesting possibility.  As with all people who get their DNA tested, Kim got a list of Matches.  I could glance through the list and pick out relatives from both sides of his family.

Then Jenni sent the email and I learned how to do a SHARED MATCH with her.  In that SHARED MATCH almost all the Olson side of the family were eliminated.  I looked through the remaining cousins and found that most had Mourits Mouritsen as a relative.  He is Kim’s great-great grandfather.  I should note that Ancestry.com explains that a 3rd cousin (which Kim and Jenni are) usually means a connection through a great-great grandparent.

So I think that either he or his father is the common ancestor of Kim and Jenni.

Notice that I said “almost all the Olson side of the family were eliminated” in the Kim-Jenni SHARED MATCH.  There was one person listed as “ Olson” that was still there and he was listed as Kim’s 1st cousin. This was puzzling to me so I set about trying to figure out who he was. Because I paid to join Ancestry.com I was able to see his family tree but still not his name.  By the power of elimination and by recognizing his mother’s maiden name I was able to determine that it was Jerel. Kim has dozens of cousins but the two he is closest to are Jerel and Bill.  In other words we know Jerel very well.

So obviously Jerel and Kim share all the family genealogy for the Olson side, right up to their fathers.  But what is their link to Jenni?  Kim is linked to Jenni through his mother’s side.  So I looked for common relatives between Kim’s mother and Jerel’s mother but could not find any.  Then the idea occurred to me that the Kim-Jerel-Jenni triangle could work like this. Kim and Jerel are related through the Olson line, Kim and Jenni are related through his mother and her parent (we’ll call parent #1) and Jerel and Jenni are related through his mother and Jenni’s parent #2.

The next step (which I can add to Troy’s TO DO LIST) would be for me to send Jerel’s mother’s family tree to Jenni and she could look through her MATCHED cousins for common relatives.  I could also go back through Kim/Jenni SHARED MATCHES looking for links to Jerel’s mother’s line.  (BTW-her name is Roma and I talked to her for 15 minutes at the family reunion last weekend.)

Also I would add to the TO DO LIST to contact Jerel to see if he’d be interested in getting involved.  I know he is really into genealogy and family ties.

I am also planing to start putting together Mourit Mouritsen’s family tree going backwards.  It will probably be overwhelming but it will give us a base of potential lines leading to Jenni. (Troy-we could add this to a Google file.)

Also note that if this idea (about lines to both of Jenni’s parents) is correct then we would still be dealing with the Bennington/Afton area because Jerel’s mother is a Shumway from Star Valley.” – Diann

It was mind blowing to see this info surfacing.

Troy’s reply (in true Sherlocker fashion quoting Sherlock)…

“I totally follow you!  And it makes me think of this Sherlock Holmes quote:

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

And I think it would totally fit with a “bio parents met in rural Wyoming theory” in that both bio lines would have a connection because of a shallow dating pool. And because bio mom wrote about the bio Dad’s family, it would suggest she had known them for a while. Maybe even went to school or church with him. For that reason, I think we want to focus on Lincoln, County Wyoming for an initial search. That is the county that Star Valley is in.” – Troy

All of the above was at the end of the first day of communication including a few possibilities that we ended up ruling out. I couldn’t believe the progress in one day.



Next step in moving forward was zoning in on Lincoln County, WY.

My next post will focus on our findings that took place next.

Love, Jenni

Thanks for reading.

To read more about coming to know my Search Angels you can read the following posts:

To get help with your own search visit Discover Family. Where my Search Angels and their team continue to help others find their families.

Click the Link Below.

Note that all things written are based off of personal experience.

DNA Results

DNA Results View Post

Begin Again..

Begin Again.. View Post

nobody’s own

nobody’s own View Post

Two Mom’s

Two Mom’s View Post