DNA Matches Part 2

Part 1

PTSD blankets my emotions with numbness.  It's hard to feel any emotion, I think them more than I sense them. Unexpected strong emotions tend to cause an automatic whole-body shutdown response.  But this was so unexpected it blew through my automatic defenses like they weren't even there.

It had been a few weeks since I was told that my results would be ready in a month and a half.  I checked the site everyday, but the expectation of seeing anything had long since slumbered.  I almost forgot to check that Saturday when I remembered it before running off to do some outdoor work.

I logged on to Ancestry.com, expecting to see the now-familiar white page with a tiny "come back later" notice.  Instead I saw colors.  There were greens, beige, browns, oranges, blues, pinks, blacks, and even a few tiny full color photographs.  Some of the colors formed words, but I couldn't read them, too shocked to see that there was something -- quite a lot of something -- there at all.

The page was full.  How could the page be full?  My origin had always been a blank page, how could it be full?

How could there be enough to fill a page?

How could there be enough to fill a page and I not know any of it?

Slowly the words started to make sense.  There was one word repeated over and over -- "cousin".

"First cousin."

"Second cousin."

"Third cousin."

"Fourth cousin."

I had never had any cousins before who wanted to do anything with us.  What the hell was a cousin anyway?  At that moment I could not have told you the definition of the word if you had held a gun to my head.

My mind was completely blown. "Come here!" I shouted, "Come here!"  But everyone was outside or playing video games on the other end of the house.

I scrolled to the end of the page.  It said Page 1  -- of 168????!!!

I'd been told most adoptees were lucky to find a single third cousin, how could I have 168 pages worth?

It was too much.  I retreated to the ethnicity page to calm down.  That said British -- a little over half, some Iberian, tiny bits of Scandinavian and Irish -- what would be expected if my non-identifying information of "half English, half French-English" was correct.

So those evil wretches at the adoption agency had told the truth about one thing.  Good to know.

I took a deep breath and went back to the match page.

The first one was a "first cousin/second cousin" match, and listed as being available to help others with genealogy.  Brain go splodey time....

I stopped, pulled up a blank file, and began madly copying and collating.  I had to make my own list in case someone took this one away from me.

Think that's irrational?  Why?  They did it once before.

I had one 1st-2cnd cousin, 1 2cnd-3rd cousin, 6 3rd-4th cousins, 86 4th-6th cousins, and page after page of possible (margin of error here) distant cousins.

I had to look; I couldn't stay still.  I was leaping in and out of my seat like a Jack-in-the-box.  My family finally joined me.  I turned the computer over to my husband.  I ran out of the house, craving fresh air, needing to move.

My five year-old ran after me.  After a few yards I turned around and went back for his sake, but if he hadn't been there I don't know how long I would have wandered the roads in a daze.  I wasn't sure I could look after myself at that moment, let alone him.

I got hugs from my husband.  I went online and got moral support from sister adoptees.  When my nerve was high and before it could crash again,  for the first time in my life I got to emailing my cousins.

The first person I wrote turned out to be solid gold.  A first-second cousin and an experienced genealogist willing to help newbies, he wasn't the least put off by my adoptee status but dove straight in to trying to help me find my roots.  He has a huge tree for me to wander though.  We speak to each other most days, and it's always a pleasure to hear from him.

The second one said he didn't know anything, don't bother him again.  I believed that, until a few weeks later I found out that he is a noted genealogist for the other side of my family who has published a book on the family genealogy.  I guess bastards don't count in his book.

The rest of the people fell in between.  I spent most of the week just prowling around family trees, looking at photographs and learning stories.  The photographs were a revelation.  It took a while before I stopped crying whenever I saw one.

The next Friday I told my therapist what had happened.  He asked me what I was feeling.  I told him it was something big, but I couldn't put a name to it.  It took the poor man an hour and fifteen minutes before I could bring myself to realize it was overwhelming joy.

I spent another week looking and learning stories.  The family had been poor during the Depression, but they had done well for themselves since then, and many of them were now professional class people, lawyers and doctors.  They were doing quite well for themselves.  That tickled me after all the years of being told I wasn't good for anything.

Two Saturdays after my results came in the other shoe dropped.  I woke up in the morning to find one of the analytical insights that I get in place of PTSD flashbacks waiting to slot into place:

They were doing good.  They had some money, contacts, education.  They had choices.  That meant ditching the infant me wasn't a case of them being poor and not having choices.

They had choices.  And having choices, they chose to throw me away.

Oh.

The gentleman's agreement between my mind and my heart that we weren't going to to go there splintered into a thousand shards, and all of them pieced my soul.  The pain hurt like nothing I'd ever dreamed of, like half my body had been sheared away and what was left was one giant aching wound.  I wanted to scream, not just at the top of my lungs but with every cell in my body.  I realized I had been screaming for a very long time and not letting myself hear me.

Bereft.  I used to think I knew what the word meant, but I was wrong.  Now I knew.

I didn't know why they threw me away.  I didn't know the story.  But it wasn't the easily forgivable one of being poor and having no options.  I grieved for the termination of that possibility.  I mourned the loss of the easy answer more than I had mourned any death save that of my son.

I had to go shopping that day.  I walked around town with tears streaming down my face, babbling my story to complete strangers, too wrapped up in agony to care one whit.

But the thing I didn't say, the thing that if it had come out would have been screamed to the heavens so loud they'd have called the police, was, "What the Hell is the point of having resources if you can't keep your family together?"

IDK, maybe I'm betraying my lower-middle class upbringing here, but --- seriously?  Nobody could have used those resources to figure out a way to at least keep me in the family?

They threw me away.  They dumped me before they even had a chance to know me, before they gave me any sort of chance.

I'd been dumped in college.  It was, "Well that stunk, but it's also an (unpleasant) learning opportunity.  I need to find the part of me that's attracted to that sort of person and switch it off so this never happens again."  And I did, and I'm a better person for doing that.

But we're talking about the primal connection between baby and mother, the foundation of our connection to humanity in general.  You can't just switch that off without ended up a psychopath.  Granted, that does explain why so many serial killers are adoptees, but I've no wish to go down that route.  But leaving the connection open means continuing to hurt like -- there are no words for what its like.

But time has applied a local anesthetic to the wound.  It usually doesn't hurt quite so much unless I do something like, oh, rake over the memories and try to write down what I'm feeling.

But better out than in.  The unexamined thoughts and emotions were taking up an inordinate amount of my internal landscape.  Getting them outside makes me feel - empty.  But light.  And I can feel thousands of hairline cracks in my psyche starting to heal.

Which is good, because there were more challenges ahead.  But give me time to recover from finishing this entry first.

0

Back in the day...

When I got my non-identifying info, among other things, I learned my national ethnicity was not as my adoptive parents told me, and I too had a very large extended family, on both sides. Like you, I thought, "Not ONE family member, on either side could have kept me?"

Was I really that awful to keep?

It's easy to fixate on our own navels and the family betrayal that seems to swim inside of us, like warm visceral soup. When it comes to dwelling on and digging into our own family histories, I think it's easy for the adoptee to fall into what I call The Abyss.... a most depressing sense of isolation and solitude.

After licking some of the more obvious opened wounds, I chose to read-up on the history of adoption, as opposed to the history of my own self and family. I wanted to know WHY large families were not helping young mothers with their kids; WHY were large families not taking care of their own, and not keeping their families intact? [See: our section about unwed mothers ]

I learned MANY adoptees my age did come from large families, but as illegitimate bastards, many of us were unwanted, no matter how much or little a first-family had or made.

I learned, my adoption wasn't about not wanting me, per se... it was about the stigma that single-mother pregnancy brings to a woman and her family. I'm guessing it's that stigma my first mother and first family didn't want.

Or so I like to believe, for the preservation of my own small sense of importance, value, and self-esteem.

It wasn't just a stigma. 

It wasn't just a stigma.  In an age before genes were known about, bastards were thought to be literally tainted by the Devil.  Expelling the child was expelling the Bad Seed.

Knew all that before I went in, but it doesn't lesson the pain.

Agreed

I totally agree, knowing such details does NOT lessen the pain.

While I don't have official statistics to offer, I do believe (based on the many private confessions many adult adoptees have shared with me) this Pain is what leads many an adoptee to self-medicate, through alcohol and/or drugs.

Numbing the pain caused by adoption is not the same as having a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, or any other addiction... but try telling a disappointed adoptive parent the reason why their adopted child is an addict is not because of genes, but because that person is suffering from the grief and pain that often comes with adoption, itself.

It's pretty messed-up, isn't it?

Yup

Oh honey, even my therapist has advised that, since I don't have an addiction gene, a  drink now and again might do me some good under the circumstances.  what does that say about where I'm at?

Youre lucky. My therapist

Youre lucky. My therapist pumped me up with pills. The pills were supposed to help me with my depression, but they gave me the bad crazies, instead.

Old Car

As my husband told me long ago while working on an old car we'd just inherited, "This happens all the time.  Once you fix one problem, all the problems that were hiding underneath it come to light."  He was talking about automotive repair, but it's the best analogy to mental health therapy I've ever come across.

Resources for those searching...

For those searching there are many resources that may assist your genealogical/ancestry searches, these provided are mostly free: 

"FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah." https://familysearch.org/
 
 
(this list is long)
http://www.4yourfamilystory.com/resources.html#.U5eGGWt5mSN

From the many adoptees, adoptive parents and general thousands of curious people who have searched, there are a few things to keep in mind:

- You are giving your DNA to a company
- Your info is not private, anyone can take your info/photos or add to your "tree"
- Do not rely just on records, footwork still is needed
- As with any internet site, if you meet someone, they are still a stranger even they call themselves a cousin, take precaution, especially if it involves a child
- Please consider the privacy of adoptees who are children, who are too young to make this choice.
- If you are an AP embarking on your own ancestry search, be aware how this may impact your adopted child.
- Educate yourself on what DNA ancestry searches really means. 

See PPL archives regarding the limited value of heritage testing:
http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/70711#comment-27405

For the DNA novices, here is a crash course how it works, some interesting pros and cons and comments as well:
 
"No one, not even the most experienced genealogist with the most documented family tree, can completely predict their genetic biogeographical estimate without some previous DNA testing (parents, self, other relatives)."

"At each generation, only 50% of a person’s DNA is passed to their children.  That 50% is almost completely random. Further, at about 5-9 generations, ancestors start to completely fall off your Genetic Family Tree.  This means that your Genetic Family Tree is a small subset of your Genealogical Family Tree, and without DNA testing you have no idea what subset that is."
http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2014/02/16/the-ancestrydna-witch-hu...
 

Many sites claim that they can find your ancestors, beware of these. Here is a little financial background info:
 
"Last year the website ancestry.com was valued at $1.6 billion (£1 billion) and at least 40 companies offer genetic ancestry tests around the world for prices between £30 and £300."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9912822/DNA-ancestry-tes...

If you are interested in a search, you may better spend your money on a reputable investigator. And remember if you are looking for stories about your family, they are not recorded, only data. You won't find the name of that carney your great great aunt ran away with to New Zealand or the name of your 10th century cousin 8x removed. If your search consists of searching for live relatives, make sure to prepare yourself for what may come. There are several threads in the PPL archives discussing this.

There are many many people on and off this site who have searched, it is always good to chat with people who have done this already. Hope this helps anyone searching.

 

Pound Pup Legacy