I never knew it could be so easy to find yourself!
Apparently, all you have to do is spit in a tube. So that’s what I did last week.
Yup. Jumpin’ on that DNA bandwagon. Gonna trace my roots to the depths of Appalachia, the moors of Ireland, the cliffs of Dover, the steppes of Asia or … somewhere.
You see, I really don’t know a lot about my family, which makes it hard to know much about myself.
And I admit, I wavered. Is it OK to amass some saliva at my office desk and spit into a little tube? Should I go into the bathroom, or is that right up there with doing a pregnancy test? I digress.
I grew up thinking I was Welsh and German because — duh — my parents are.
But I was adopted, so that’s not quite the case.
No one would tell me anything, either; they said they “didn’t know.”
Even my birth certificate lies. It doesn’t even have the correct date, according to the two people who were there at my birth: my birth-mother and the attending doctor.
My “real” birth certificate is sealed. Only with notarized signatures from all four parents will the Supreme Court in California release it. My adoptive mom; no way. Ever. My birth-mother and adoptive father; sure probably. I presume my birth-father is dead. Either that or he’s 113. But we have no death certificate because … oh, it’s a long story.
And I’ve looked for years to find a notary willing to stamp forged signatures.
In the meantime, I dreamed.
I always wanted to be Irish, so I could be like my best friend Caroline. I hung out at her house to learn Gaelic, the only language her parents spoke. I tried to do jigs. But you can’t wish yourself into a heritage.
Then my birth-mother found me. I was 25. I was so eager to learn my roots, where I come from! I was disappointed to learn she was an American Mutt. From upstate New York.
But for an adopted kid, who you are always niggles in the dark recesses of your mind. It’s like an itch you can’t reach. Who AM I? Where do I come from? There’s this hole in your heart; you don’t belong, you never fit in. It aches.
I’ve had people tell me I look English; that I can believe: pasty white, nondescript. Yeah.
A couple rushed me once — I didn’t know if they were planning an assault or if a movie star stood behind me — to ask if I was Native American. Oh, they were excited! I had the cheekbones! The bald arms! The color (it was summer; I tan well). They were very excited about this. I was a little frightened by this.
I let it ride for years, but even visiting second cousins twice removed and the graves of my ancestors in upstate New York didn’t quite … do it for me.
Then Ancestry.com was invented. I was intrigued. But not … quite enough to actually do it. It was kind of like finding my birth-mother: I wanted to, but once I had, I wasn’t so sure I wanted it anymore. Go figure.
Last month, however, my friend — I’ll call him … “Ben” — got his DNA test results. Like he needs them. Ben knows his roots, his biology, his parents.
There, on his smartphone, were little circles around areas in Europe: England, Ireland, Germany, Japan. I looked at Ben. Japan? OK …
But I was hooked. I wanted to take his phone home and study it all day.
Because, who I am?
This is big, big, big, in the life of an adopted person. Ours is a life disrupted, right from the start.
My tests might not satisfy that itch; I mean, how much closer can you get to your roots than knowing the person who birthed you?
It’s like my sealed birth certificate: It’s printed there, in black and white, who I really am. In lieu of that, this DNA test might bring me a step closer to finding myself.
I’m about to find out.