Monday, May 27, 2013

Help Us Find Christopher’s Birth Mother: DNA Provides Clues

Dr. Christopher Harris of Toronto, Ontario

Revised and Updated: January 1, 2015

On May 10, 2013, I received the following message on Facebook from Raquel Tomlinson. She stated, “My husband is one of your cousins on 23andMe. His name is Christopher Harris.”  I checked my 23andMe DNA account, browsed my Relative Finder database, and found his name among my 400+ “DNA cousins”.  However, what was most interesting is that he is a Black Canadian!  How am I related to a Black Canadian?  Dr. Christopher Harris resides in Toronto, Ontario. He recently received his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Toronto.

In helping her husband find his birth mother, Raquel shared more information, and I soon spoke with Cousin Christopher on the phone.  He was born on November 1, 1978 in Canada in Windsor, Ontario.  He does not know his birth mother’s first name, but her last name is believed to be Harris.  He knows that his birth mother’s mother (his maternal grandmother) is a Black Canadian who descends from former slaves who migrated to Canada via the Underground Railroad.  He also knows that his birth mother’s father (his maternal grandfather) is an African American from Detroit, Michigan. His occupation was welder.  Christopher knows that his biological father is from Tanzania, a country in East Africa.

His birth parents met while his biological father was a foreign engineering student at the University of Windsor. His birth mother was 18 years old when she gave birth to him. She herself had been in foster care for all of her life; she was given up for adoption after her birth, as her birth mother (Christopher’s maternal grandmother) allegedly got pregnant with her outside of her own marriage.  Coincidentally, Christopher's adopted family’s last name is also Harris (no relation); they are from Barbados. His adoption was a closed adoption. However, the information thus far is based on his adopted mother's memories. Christopher recently filed an application to receive his birth parents' names, a process that could take a year in Canada.

But how is Christopher related to me? Is he on my Mom’s side or my Dad’s side?  Utilizing the family inheritance tool in 23andMe, I compared him to other known cousins in my database. Lo and behold, my findings raised eyebrows and helped to determine more!  Christopher also shares DNA with Lenro Morgan and NeNise Smith, my cousins on my Dad’s side.  We are the direct descendants of Robert “Big Bob” & Jane Ealy, as well as Lucy Kennedy, from Leake County, Mississippi. They were my father’s great-grandparents. 

As of Jan. 1, 2015, a total of 11 descendants of Bob & Jane Ealy have taken the 23andMe DNA test. Three people (in red) are closely-related to Bob and/or Jane Ealy. See note below in blue. Christopher matches 10 of us! Additionally, he matches the family members in blue and red in the following chart on the X chromosome. This verifies that the connection is on his mother’s side. The DNA matches to Christopher as of Jan. 2015 include the following:

Note: Andrea, Mahadji, and Lisa are great-granddaughters of Charles & Annette Atkins of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. There is no family knowledge of family members being in that parish in Louisiana. However, they all match Ealy descendants, and they also match Christopher, Violet, and NeNise on the X chromosome, too! After analyzing family trees, I strongly suspect that the unidentified mother of Charles Atkins was either a sister or daughter of Jane (Parrott) Ealy.

All branches of the Bob & Jane Ealy Family Tree can be seen on the Ealy Family page. Branches E5, E6, and E11 are actually three children (Paul, Bob Jr., & Martha) of Bob & Jane Ealy who married three children (Adeline, Mattie, & Albert) of Lucy Kennedy. Therefore, those three family branches are double related. However, there’s little doubt that Christopher’s maternal grandfather is indeed a direct descendant of Bob & Jane Ealy and Lucy Kennedy, placing him in one of those three family branches. He suspects that his maternal grandfather may still be living in Detroit.  He would love to connect with his biological family.

To all of my Ealy and/or Kennedy family members, especially those in Detroit who read this post, please share this blog post with other family members. Someone may know something and can connect him with his family. If anyone has additional advice to help Christopher locate his birth family, feel free to post a comment here or e-mail me at melvinjcollier@ or Dr. Christopher Harris at

Me (far left) with cousins at the 2010 Ealy Family Reunion in Detroit, Michigan


  1. Wow, fascinating story and great detecive work!

  2. That's amazing! It's wonderful that Christopher already has so much great information about his birth family. I wish you all luck in finding out the rest!


  3. Oh I am hoping and praying he will be able to find out more. Great detective work again!

  4. We're not related but I will check with my Canadian cousins in the Windsor area. Maybe they'll remember something.

  5. I searched for (& was successful in finding) my birth father back in '07. I had been looking online for a few years but nothing had turned up. I finally caught a break when I accidentally misspelled his name in a google search and, low and behold, there he was! I was 34 at the time. I created to help others who are in the same or similar circumstances. I know all too well the pain that accompanies "not knowing". FFA is unique in that it creates a great "exposure" piece that is very useful for those persons (ie parents) that may be searching for YOU right now. Use of the site is totally free and there is no obligation. Hope this helps and perhaps will see you on Good luck!

  6. Hi I descend from Charles and Annette Atkins as well can we get in touch


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