FAMILY, Personal Thoughts

The Details in the DNA

I’m adopted. That’s not a secret, and never has been. It’s always been a huge part of my story, and has greatly shaped who I am as a person. It has brought me a lot of pain, and it took years of therapy for me to even come to grips with this part of my origin story. But I did.

Back in the day, adoptions were closed, and facilitated through agencies. That was it. Open adoptions were rare, and for us adoptees, this left us without answers. Even if the child is placed with incredible parents, there is still a loss that is experienced. It’s not often talked about, but the statistics support it. Adoptees are much more at risk for mental health disorders, and have a much higher suicide risk.

I have Bipolar 2 Disorder and Acute Anxiety. A few months ago, I enrolled in the 23andMe Bipolar and Depression Study, where they use your DNA to further research mental illness. I had been wanting to do a DNA test for years, and this afforded me the perfect opportunity. I could help with research, find out about my own genetic history in detail, and possibly reconnect with biological family? Count me in!

So I took the test.

Before I go farther, I think it’s important to tell you what I thought I knew… what I was told… about my genetics. I was told that my birth mother’s ancestry was Irish and British, and that my birth father and his family had come from Egypt, and were of Middle Eastern descent. It’s in all of my adoption paperwork, and the limited family health history paper I do have (provided by the adoption agency).

*Insert Maury voice* “The DNA results are in. You are not the father.”

Yep. I was blown away. Totally and completely blown away. 50% of what I thought I knew was totally erased. Either the adoption agency and my birth parents made some pretty serious errors on the paperwork, or… the guy who thought he was my dad, simply wasn’t.

Here are my official percentages:

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Notice the section for “Middle Eastern”? 0%. I don’t even have a DISTANT relative of Middle Eastern descent. That means that this guy who signed away his rights to me and let me be adopted by another family wasn’t even my dad. He was heartbroken over losing a child that wasn’t his, and somewhere out there is a white dude who has no idea he’s got a daughter in her late 20’s that he had as a teenager.

So to unlock this tangled mystery, the only real solution would be to connect with my birth mother. That would be a simple matter of using the DNA Family tool, but…

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I have 1,166 biological relatives in the database, though NONE of them are immediate family. That means that I am distantly related, the child of a second cousin, and so forth. So the odds of them actually being able to help me find my bio parents are slim. Unless by some miracle I have siblings out there, and one of them takes the test eventually and matches with me, or another close family member does… It’s all still just shots in the dark. But now I have names. I have locations. I’ve made contact, and a distant cousin is doing some investigating with his siblings to see if they can uncover anything on their end for me. I’m not holding my breath; if they don’t find anything, I’ll be ok. It’s just so surreal to even know that I’m talking to people who are descended from the same family tree. That in itself is amazing, but also so very strange.

There’s so much for me to unpack here, and of course I’ll post if there is any major breakthrough with my biological family. I’m relatively overwhelmed by the information. Much of it is exactly what I suspected it would be, and then some of it is totally throwing me off (Daddy Issues 101, anyone?). SO, to lighten the mood, I’ll leave you with some fun statistics I learned about my DNA (that are all true for me personally).

I am more likely to have dark eyes.
I am more likely to be able to have perfect pitch and be able to carry a tune.
My muscle build (when I’m in shape!) is that of an explosive athlete, rather than an endurance one.
I am more likely to drink large amounts of coffee.
I am more likely to think cilantro tastes like soap.
I was likely bald as a baby.
I likely have wavy hair now.
I likely have fair skin.
I likely have detached earlobes.
I likely have freckles.

DNA is weird and wonderful. Have you done a 23andMe? If so, did you find what you expected, or was your world rocked?

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