“We want to know what we are.”
Words spoken to me by my son who is slightly obsessed with genealogy and our family tree. Being adopted, my biological background has always been a mystery to me and something my kids wanted to know about. I could understand them being curious about the pieces of me that they carry. I had never seriously pursued finding my biological family. I figured I would know when I felt ready, even though I was curious. I also have an amazing family and that was always enough for me. Usually on my birthday each year I would spend some time looking around on some of the online search sites, just to see if anyone was looking for me.
There were never any listings for a baby girl born in Happy Valley, NL on August 6th so I would just go on with my life until the next year.
But maybe, it was finally time.
So, Mother’s Day came and I got a very unusual gift – A DNA kit. I promptly spit in the tube, and sent it off. Either I would get answers or I would be cloned by the government. I was willing to take that risk.
A few weeks later I got an email with the results, I wasn’t home but doing some work out-of-town so I logged in to check things out. I sat there and I felt everything around me disappear as I was transported away, learning things that I had never known before.
It was like reading a secret manual about myself that had been hidden away.
Some things were obvious.
I’m more likely to drink caffeine than the normal person. Yes.
I’m more likely to be sensitive to loud chewing. Oh Yes.
I’m more likely to be bitten by mosquitos. All the time.
Then came the family tree information.
I’m British and Irish with a touch of Scandinavian. (Sadly, not a Russian Princess as Noah hoped)
Increased risk of Celiac Disease and Diabetes.
I sat there with my 2 cream/1 sweetener coffee (hoping the cookie I just ate wasn’t going to make me a diabetic) learning all about my DNA life in Tim Hortons, trembling a little as things unfolded before me.
Identity has been a deep struggle of my life, something that I have had to fight through and for in all my seasons. But as I sat there reading, I felt some healing pour out on me as I learned things about myself that I had never known.
I’ve been loved all my life, but in my deep places there have been missing pieces that no one else could ever understand.
Then, I saw the connections button. I had read somewhere that sometimes DNA results could give you an idea of what your biological last name might be, or what area you were from. I thought that might be interesting so I clicked without giving it much thought.
Everything changed forever.
Immediately I was looking at a list of hundreds of names of people related to me.
At the top of the list, my closest relatives who had also done the test and were a match. An aunt and two cousins.
I sat in that Tim Hortons and I felt things start to spin.
Another click connected me directly with my cousin (who is just the loveliest) and within an hour I was learning about a life that I had been part of but never lived in. I’d imagined it, but now it was real. The days that followed were a bit of a blur, as I tried to process what had been a question mark in my life since I was a little girl reading “The adopted family” book over and over each night until I wore out the pages.
Everything had flipped upside down, and I was in a place I had never been before. I was overwhelmed, I was terrified. I had answers, I had questions. I was grateful, I was alone. I felt connection, I felt deep grief.
I woke up one night gasping for breath, thinking I was having a heart attack. A couple days later I sat in my counsellor’s office crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. She told me that adopted children have a legitimate and real connection to their DNA. What I had learned, what I was grieving and what I didn’t understand actually caused physical reactions that I had never experienced before. I walked around for a week in a complete fog wondering how life could ever be the same. Not sure how to deal with all of this, in a life already filled with things that are heavy.
There’s much more to the story, and still things to unfold that I can’t quite share. I’m trusting God for the journey ahead, just like I do with everything else in my life. I’m writing this because that’s how I process, and there were days in the last month when I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to write again.
Then I remember.
Everything in our life has a purpose.
No matter what we face.
We can have peace, we can have trust – no matter the storm.
I am who He says I am, is what I say to myself over and over again.
The plans for my life are good.
I’ve been chosen.
Loved. Cherished. Valued.
My whole life I’ve clung to the words from Psalm 139 and I won’t let them go now.
I’ll just hold on tighter.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret.
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days written for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
I will continue to live loved, and I’ll keep walking out this chapter of my story. I always believe that there is joy to be found in pain. Hope to be found in sorrow.
I choose love.
I choose hope.
I choose joy.
I choose family.
The one I’ve known and the one I’ve found.
I didn’t really understand what I was doing when I clicked the button on that perfect summer day in Tim Hortons, as usual I didn’t read the fine print.
But I know it’s going to be ok.
The one who’s written my life story up until now is still the author.
He’s got the fine print covered.
This next chapter is His.