Personal History

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Have you ever had a moment in life that instantly choked you up in tears, completely unexpectedly?

A week ago, on Black Friday, I was cruising Amazon when I discovered that the “ancestry DNA” kit was almost 50% off the regular $100 price. My body froze as I realized this was a rare thing. What should I do? I’ve wanted one of these for so long, but what if someone got it for me for Christmas (I’d mentioned it)? Should I ask? Should I wait? But what if they put together the money and here it was for half that? I decided to ask Nolan.

I explained my dilemma and then asked, “Do you mind if I get it?”

“No, go ahead.”

That was it, just three little words, but I instantly choked up.

How do I explain what it means to me to finally be able to find out where I come from? Although there have been times over the years I’ve thought of finding my birth parents, I’ve never pursued it. First, it’s just too expensive. Second, what level of complication would it bring to their lives and mine? Third, do I really have a good reason or a driving need? I’m not sure. What I am sure about is just simply wanting to know where I come from. What is my heritage? Where do I fit into this big world?

I’m a history and heritage person. People’s stories have fascinated me since I was in the fourth grade and discovered the world of biographies. And being a child of America, where everyone comes from somewhere, the closest I could get was that there was some Danish in me. I clung to that! My ancestors were the Vikings! Hagar the Horrible was one of my favorite comic strips just because they were Vikings. Mom and Pop once bought me a Danish American license plate frame for my first car–I loved it! The only problem was, I had no story to go with it. Even in this melting pot we call America, everyone has a story for their heritage. My niece and nephews adopted from other countries at least know their heritage, something they can claim. Mine is only a piece of my birth mother’s information, I know nothing of my birth father except a description of his looks.

The advantage of that is I could dream up whatever I wanted to about what my connections could be. Could I be a princess? Do I have famous relatives? (Highly unlikely, but tell that to an eight-year old!) What’s funny is that my girls would wonder that about me, too! I guess children are the same no matter what generation they’re in!

And so, my dear husband’s “go ahead” put me in instant emotion as I realized I could, at last, find out. But now comes the difficult part. Nolan went on to tell the experience of a co-worker’s partner who, when she did it, discovered she had a grandchild neither she nor her son knew about. My stomach dropped. What if I’m someone’s unknown grandchild? Or sibling? Could I still end up a complication in someone else’s life? After all these years, could it drag up unwanted memories? Or, could it be a blessing? A healing for someone? The answer to a long ago asked question?

My kit arrived a couple days ago. I guess it’s time to find out.