Who am I? Where did I come from? These are questions we all might ask ourselves at some point in life. For an adopted child who never knew her biological family, these are the questions that have haunted me all my life.
Adopted as a newborn, my adoptive parents told me, from the time I could understand, that I was adopted. They told me I had been picked by them from all the newborn babies out there to be theirs. It made me feel “special” and gave me confidence to stand up whenever kids would cruelly tease me about being adopted. My comeback response was “My parents picked me…yours were stuck with you!”
My adoptive parents had both been orphans, so there were no extended family members in my life: no brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents. As they were older when they adopted me, they had both passed away by the time I was 14. I was on my own by 17, married at 18, and had my first child that same year. It was satisfying to be a mother and wife and finally to have a family. But those questions still played in my mind.
Later, after my daughter married and had children, she was concerned about hereditary diseases. We tried to find my biological mother, but were unsuccessful. In 2011, I learned of a group that provides a low cost DNA service (23andMe). They provide genetic reports on ancestry and help people connect with their DNA relatives. After I joined their database, I was contacted by a man who was researching his family tree and was listed as a 5th-6th cousin. He tried to find a closer link to his family, but was unsuccessful. Just recently, I was contacted by a young man who is shown in the database as my 2nd cousin. We talked and he is confident that my father was his father’s uncle. Unfortunately, the uncle passed away several years ago, but we are both sure it was him. Through this process, I have learned that my father was from Cyprus and moved to the US as a young man where he lived until he died. All my closest genetic links are through those who either live in or had family who originally came from Cyprus.
I am 70 and had begun to doubt that I would ever find any link to my biological parents. Now there is hope that I might also find a link to my mother, too.
Another positive result of this service has been their health reports, which have given me some insight into what diseases I may be susceptible to, or what drugs may give me a negative reaction. Several years ago, I had to have minor surgery and learned there was an anesthesia drug that I might have difficulty with. My doctor was able to prescribe a different drug for my surgery. I thank 23andme for providing that information! https://www.23andme.com/.