Ancestry.com, 23andme.com. Many people are fascinated with these websites and searching their geneology and creating their family trees online. The commercials even tell tales of people (who grew up with their biological families) that find out that their nationalities are different than what they originally thought. Someone who thought they were German and then found out they weren’t at all, that they were Scottish and gave up their Lederhosen for kilts. For adoptees, sites like these can be essential to gaining knowledge about their identity that they weren’t ever entitled to, that they were lied to purposely about or that was mistaken in their paperwork: the only thing they have that ties them to their actual roots.
I am one of the lucky ones to have made contact with my birth families prior to attempting DNA testing via one of these sites. I now only use Ancestry.com to build my family trees (one birth family tree, and one adoptive family tree). I still may eventually submit DNA to one of these sites to find out for sure and to find out percentages because when I did make contact with my birth families, I found out that I was not the two nationalities that I was always told that I was. I am German, which was correctly conveyed to me growing up. But I was also told I was English. I was admonished at the dinner table by my adoptive dad for being English because he didn’t like the way I ate with a fork and knife and said, “That’s the English in you. The English eat that way.” My differences were not tolerated well and when things could be blamed on my roots, the branches of my life loved to do so. (Sidenote: What I learned from my roots was that I am in fact: German, Swiss, Irish and Welsh)
While it may differ for other people, for me, the roots in me are so much stronger than my branches. My nature prevails over my nurture. I learned more of what not to do and what I don’t want from my branches. I went in to a career of music, never knowing that the arts in general ran on my birthmoms side and that I came from a long line of bona fide musicians on my birthdads side. My great-great grandfather patented the lyric banjo. UntiI I knew for sure what kind of tree I was, I tried at times, due to my insecurity, to attempt to borrow branches from the branches I was placed among to disguise myself, but my roots stood strong. And when I finally saw the family of trees I was born from, I finally made sense to myself and I no longer needed to hide my true identity to please the other branches in my life. No longer did I need to blend in for any one else’s benefit. My answers were in my roots, like I knew they would be all along.