“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.
Love everything about this story. Can’t wait to hear more.
You are brave, courageous and loved Shelley! You are blessed to be a blessing! Excited for your journey ahead !❤️
Beautiful. Next chapter please… xo
Shelly, so Beautiful. I’ve known you for so long that I hung on every word of this. Im so thrilled for you and yet scared too!!
Isnt that always when God does the most amazing things!
I’m holding my breath with you, my friend!! And trusting Jesus is going before you!
This is a big deal! Praying wisdom & grace for you as you process!
Thank you Ellen xo
This is so amazing Shelly..Im so happy for you..I pray that your jiurney is blessedby God and that it is all you ever wanted.. God Bless hun.. ?
Shelly…I often read your blogs but feel to comment here. You are a brave woman and strong in so many ways. I know that right now there are many variables in your life that can make you feel overwhelmed but God has you now as always in the Palm of His hand. I am so happy for you for this new chapter in your life. Take one day at a time. You are a wonderful mom, friend, daughter and woman of God. Praying for you today my friend.
Shelly I never knew you were adopted. I too am adopted and also did the DNA kit in November of last year. I too ended up connecting with a cousin in Portland Oregon amongst other family members. I was so interested in find out information about myself especially my paternal side of the family. Not knowing anything is as bad knowing too much information. The one thing I had to learn in my Christian walk is that my identity isn’t tied to an earthly father and mother but who I am in Christ. I learned that I am a daughter of God and loved unconditionally, never rejected or considered a nuisance to be gotten rid of.
Your blog about this subject is amazing. Thank God for sharing this part of your life with us.
Thank you for sharing this with me Susan.
Can’t wait to see you and talk more about this, my non-biological cousin, on every level…me being adopted too and us not really related…but you are my family too. You’ll forever be in my life history and future! I am 4 years into my biological family relationship building and so far, it’s nice! They are kind people. So grateful for that. I also want to say that nurture is such a huge part of life. And it is nice to know where we came from too! It did fill some empty spaces for me too and I am so grateful to my Mom and Dad for walking the road with me and supporting me. God is in control and gave us beautiful adoptive families a the greatest gift of all! We were always lived by the mothers who gave birth to us, by our parents who chose us, and by our Heavenly Father who has written our journey all along and will continue to guide us! I love you!
So true, all of what you have said. We have been so blessed. love you
Oh Shelly, my heart breaks and rejoices with you at the same time. ❤️❤️❤️
Shelley I am so happy that you contacted me and that we are cousins. God had a special plan for you and you are living it every day. I am so happy that you were blessed with your family that loved you unconditionally. xo
Thank you lovely xo I am so glad too!
Words cannot express my reaction to this most powerful post which has confirmed all I have known you to be:
Loving. Kind. Curious. Brave. Sensitive. Fearful. Fearless. Confident. Loyal. And… as God said fearfully and wonderfully made.
I value what you have learned. Do not think for a minute He Has stopped knitting! The beautiful work he created has matured and blossomed decays of your ancestors, your forever families, the Windsor’s and the Calcagno’s. your God chosen husband and children and your future unique grand babies.
I tear up thinking if the mixed feelings you have bravely embraced. I love you so much Shelly Pops. Forever!
Thank you Kathy – I love you so much xoxo
Not ‘decays’…s/b because!
I cant imagine what your heart is feeling, but I’m so glad We weren’t allowed to know our futures or we wouldn’t have gone ahead and lived each day. Pain is a familiar friend to so so many, and to you to Sweet Shelly. Oh the miracles He is unravelling as you share this with us all. thank you. be assured you are in my prayers as you go forward. SO EXCITED FOR YOU. xo