Folk Grow

To change up holiday traditions this past Christmas, my husband and I gave the kids (and us) DNA kits at Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t Christmas dinner be fun and unique if we learned something about our DNA and fixed food from our various ethnic backgrounds during the holidays? We could then skip the traditional ham or turkey. Of course, I didn’t think too much about how we might end up with haggis or rawfish or something esoteric to us.

As our kids were adopted as newborns, neither knows much about his and her biological families. Our daughter (in her 40s) got right on the business and sent in her saliva quickly—as did my husband and I. New culinary delights might be in our future, or not.

Our son, always the jokester and almost 50, didn’t get his mailed in time for our special, international Christmas dinner. In fact he didn’t send it in until after Christmas—his excuse being that he didn’t know if they wanted spit or sperm. He does know the difference but may have overlooked directions. Our Christmas dinner this year was not turkey or ham but salmon cooked by our daughter in law delicious. Wait until next year! Haggis, here we come!

Now, all the saliva has been sent in. Our “maps” are back now, and it looks as if we’ve all originated from various parts of Europe. Not surprisingly, the DNA from us four is linked to many hundreds of people, kinfolk who can be contacted through the DNA website. In our son’s case, a first cousin is just an email away. In our daughter’s, she has contacted an aunt (sister to her now deceased birth mother) who has spread the news to other biological family members. Almost overnight our relatively small family expanded. I’m planning a big family reunion—adopted and biological—when all these new folk are identified.

Our daughter met her birth mother several years ago after an exhaustive search of social security records. She set out to meet her. They saw one another just once but corresponded for a while after that visit.

I recall when the kids were little, each time we took Dad to the airport for another trip to London, on the way home, we stopped for a fast food treat. It never failed that I was questioned all about adoption, and what does “chosen” mean, Mom? Over a couple of years I explained how they were selected and so special and how fortunate we were. I recall one year when they pounced on me about how they didn’t look like anyone else in the family. Big sigh.

Now, we have seen pictures of our daughter’s biological family and even her birth mother at an early age. Our daughter is the spitting image of her! What a thrill for all of us to see those photos!

Our son, slow to move on contacting that first cousin turned up by the DNA test, needs to be reminded that he too might see biological parents’ photos. One thing he has learned is that his birth father was a race car driver. When he discovered that, his reaction was, “I knew it was in my blood.” He raced cars for years until he had an accident and realized he needed to stay healthy and alive for his family.

Results from my DNA-related family turned up two granddaughters of siblings of both my maternal grandparents. Having been “family archives central” for almost four decades, I have an enormous amount of paper trail data and photographs from several generations. You can’t imagine how happy I was to send off many pounds of material to these two women. I even parted with “originals” which they needed more than I did. To their delight they received photos of their grandparents as children which they had never seen before.

Now, back to our little nuclear family which is of like mind on many big picture matters as we look at the world more or less the same way. (Nurture vs. nature?) Our politics are similar. We’ve covered more of the religious spectrum since our daughter-in-law was raised Roman Catholic. With a couple of atheists thrown in, we pretty much cover the gamut. We’re learning from our new “friends and family” on Facebook they cover the spectrum on belief systems and political opinions too.

Because of dissimilar politics and various religious convictions, many families are being torn apart these days. I’m grateful to know that we’re going to stitch ours together in the near future by bringing people together who have never met. I hope we won’t divide ourselves into mini groups of like-minded kinfolk. After so many years of not knowing one another, it will be a wonderful time for us all to link up.

Long live DNA! It connects us to more of our world—in so many ways. Like haggis.


  1. Might want to back off on your son. Maybe he’s not into knowing about his birth family and their past. He brushes it off with jokes, but that doesn’t mean that deep down, it doesn’t hurt. His actions, or shall I say in actions, would suggest he simply is just not into it. It is great that you have been so open about being adopted all these decades, but my mother was adopted, and I feel many of her issues are as a result. She does not like to discuss it and becomes quiet and reserve if the subject is broached. Some people don’t want to know that their birth parents “gave them up” and maybe even had kids that they did “keep.” In their mind, they have it played out to help them with the concept, and knowing otherwise might not be something they are willing to face, even at the ripe age of 50.

  2. Thanks, Bill. I really appreciate your comments. We try not to push him on this. I think he was also worried about privacy issues with the DNA. He and his wife have done some investigating but have turned up nothing. I understand there’s a TV program about finding birth families (which they often watch). I remember years ago he told us and a bunch of people who were with us that “one set of parents was enough.” I appreciate your perspective with your mother having been adopted. I’m sure there are issues on both sides. Again, thank you…

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