One of the hardest things in doing research is the reality vs. perceptions that a lot of people have about research into their family tree.
For some reason, we like to think that all women in our family are prim and proper and sweet little virgins when they met the men in our family.
Let me assure you. Not true. Not true today, and not true back in the day of our ancestors.
My mother was never married to my biological father. I have never laid eyes on him, although I know believe that I know who he is. (It is either him or one of his brothers, but his brothers were never in the part of the world I was born in.)
Do I believe that my mother was a sweet, virtuous angel before I got here? Of course not.
She had desires. She had attractions, crushes, encounters. All of the things that normal people have. Sex drive is not something that is limited to men. Women have urges, too. The only difference is not what they do with those urges, but instead, how they are treated for having those urges and acting upon them.
My mother, when it was obvious that I was looking for my biological family threw me on a trail of bad information and lies. To protect me? Perhaps. To protect herself from rejection and judgement? Of course.
I belong to a lot of different groups on social media. Repeatedly, adoptees who are looking for their biological families will have so much more luck with their paternal family than they have with their maternal family. It is so contradictory of everything that we see in movies, etcetera. But it is the truth. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, that goes without saying.
In one of the groups that I belong to on Facebook, the ratio of paternal family being open to meeting and knowing is about 3 to 1 compared to maternal family.
I know that when I had my son and placed him for adoption, it was deeply instilled in me to make sure that I did not interfere with the adoptive family or the child that I placed for adoption, after all, they were doing me a huge favor.
Wasn't I doing them a huge favor as well? Isn't having a baby and giving it to the adoptive parent to raise a big favor as well? I would think so, but the adoption agencies of the time did not really address that angle. Another reflection of women being punished/held accountable for her sexuality.
That leads me to DNA testing and reunions being made outside the parameters of the adoption agency.
Adoption agencies made the promise to people that they need not worry about being contacted. That their little secret was safe within the walls of the agency and the sealed birth certificate. With the event of at home DNA testing (Ancestry, Heritage, 23AndMe, Family Tree DNA, etcetera) becoming so affordable, more and more people are turning away from the agencies and the archaic laws of sealed adoption records. They are instead choosing to take tests that cost less than 100.00 per test. In less than 2 months typically, an adoptee can find their birth family on both sides. With social media being free and open, with a few clicks of the mouse, an adoptee can look at the faces of biological family.
The problem about this is for any member of the adoption triangle that does not want to be found. For the birth mother who wanted the secret of her pregnancy and childbirth hidden, her privacy is no longer assured or guaranteed. For the birth father who may not even know that a child was conceived, his life can be thrown into hell if he has never told his family of the existence of a child.
An adoptee that has never been told that they were adopted, or does not want to know their biological family and finds themself facing issues they were not prepared to handle can be a disaster.
Am I against DNA testing? No, not at all. I support open records. I support the right of people to know where they came from as an adoptee. I support the right of birthparents to know their biological child is well and cared for. Open adoption removes all of the mystery from adoption and allows for open communication. In medical emergencies, if the biological family is available for contact, information can be exchanged that is literally lifesaving.
As long as we continue to have a one sided stigma of women having sexuality, of women expressing their sexuality and of women having sexual relations, we will continue to have shame for an event that needs to have no shame.
As I continue to know my paternal family, I am greatly saddened by all of the years that I was denied these relationships. I have aunties and cousins and grand cousins. I had grandparents while I was alive on my father's side. From all that I have heard, they would have been very loving and kind. I have pictures of people who I look like. Who I share the same body type. Who I have common interests. I would still be searching for these wonderful family members if I had not taken a DNA test.
This teddy bear in incredibly sentimental to me. A friend got it for me when we went to a sporting event. My dad, every time he would see the bear in my car would ask if my "hippie bear" was having a good time.
This bear is NOT a beanie baby, though he is about the same size.
Ancestry is having a sale until Father's Day, $10.00 off their normal price. Go and check them out and get a few kits if you are planning on doing multiple tests.
Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and check out the questionnaire to ask the men in your life. It will be up before Father's Day, which falls on the 18th of June this year.
I truly cannot believe that it has been a year since the last National DNA Day!
Since last year's DNA day, I now know my paternal family, who they are. I know what people I descend from. What a strange thing to write. I have still not made contact with my biological father for reasons that I can't go into here, but I have spoken with cousins and aunts. I have been friended by people who actually share a blood tie with me. What a strange range of emotions to experience.
We have also narrowed down the line that my sister comes from. We are gently verifying everything. It is a strange blessing to me that both of our biological fathers are alive. It is also strange to me that neither of us have had contact with them.
If I had to do the tests all over again, would I? Absolutely. I have learned so many wonderful things about myself and the people that I am blood linked to. I have looked at photos and seen people that I look like. I found most of my matches through Ancestry.com.
Currently, Ancestry is running a special through the 29th of April, 2018 for 59.00 DNA tests.
If you are thinking about getting a test, this is their lowest price of the year.
Family Tree DNA is also running a DNA Test special. It expires on the 29th as well.
23 and Me has a special, 69.00 for their tests.
Please let me know about your experiences with DNA!
Ancestry rolled out a fun new feature today-Trading Cards. If you have a membership at Ancestry and have taken the DNA test, go and check out the new feature. It is a lot of fun, and I found my 10 year old stepson asking a lot of questions about it and then telling me that he wanted to have his trading card made!
So, for family members that may be reticent to get their DNA testing done, because they want some tangible proof of "What's in it for me?", the Ancestry DNA trading card may be the very thing that gets them on board.
Downside of the trading card? It will only show your top 7 ethnicities. If you have a greater mix, the lesser percentages will not show up. Other downside, the hashtag is My American DNA. I do not know how or if this feature changes in other countries. If you do, please share your trading card image.
Thanks, Ancestry, for bringing this fun feature out! Although the card is listed as being limited edition, I am hoping that they will leave it as a permanent feature!
Share your thoughts!