DNA is a funny thing. Spit into a little tube and drop your spit in the mail. In just a few weeks, you can know more about who you are and where you came from than you ever thought possible. I know because it happened to me.
As an adoptee in PA, I had the opportunity last year to request my original birth certificate. I’m sure it was a money-making venture for the budget in Harrisburg. There were no promises made. Birth parents names could be listed but may not be. No guarantees, but for twenty dollars, it was worth finding out. I bet their little venture brought in millions of dollars. If nothing else, it was a good fundraising effort.
For twenty-five years or so, I have known my birth name. When I first heard it and then read it in my adoption records, I had trouble processing it. I felt like two different people. It was all very strange. But I got used to it and even made my birth name my alter ego–the one who did things I didn’t want to own up to, the one you didn’t want to make angry. I never thought I would know any more about the family I came from. But then my birth certificate arrived in the mail with my mother’s name on it (she was deceased). Over the past nine months, I have had the incredible opportunity to meet several members of my mother’s family. My father’s name wasn’t on the birth certificate, but my mother’s family knew who it was.
I reached out to his sister (my father was deceased). When she replied that she didn’t think he could be my father, I thought any further discovery of that side of the family would be a dead end. Enter DNA. It bothered her and her family enough that they decided to do a DNA test. Why not? Ancestry was having a sale (first clue we are related). I was shocked when my family tree suddenly had more leaves on it. So were they! But DNA doesn’t lie–it may confuse siblings with first cousins, but it knows they are family.
This weekend, I had the privilege of meeting some of my father’s family. I was so nervous. Knowing their initial skepticism, would they be happy about meeting me? Would they accept me? Was this a good idea? My fears were quickly allayed when introductions went straight to hugs. What a joy it was! What delightful family members. One thing about DNA, you find out who you are related to, but you might not be too happy about it. Not the case here. The family members I met are fantastic and beautiful (not that there is any family resemblance to me)! They are warm and loving and obviously have close ties to one another. They took the time to make a photo album for me, which I will always cherish.
Like my mother’s family, this one also has strange coincidences. My paternal birth-grandparents lived on Columbia Avenue. My paternal grandmother lived on Columbia Avenue in a different town. My birth father had heart disease and underwent bypass surgery in 1987. My dad had heart disease and underwent bypass surgery in 1988. Both fathers died within days of their birthdays. My birth family lost my father at age 54, a few days after his birthday. I learned of their DNA results at age 54, a few days after my birthday. They are Italian. I always wanted to be Italian (anything that has to do with pizza and spaghetti is for me).
This has been an amazing journey. I truly believe God removed me from one family and placed me in another for a purpose. I am confident it was the best thing for me. To now have the opportunity to know my birth families is an added blessing. As I have always told my children, life is all about relationships. Just as God had a purpose in taking me out of my birth families 54 years ago, he has a purpose for putting them back in my life now. I wonder what he has in store. I’m sure it will be amazing. Amazement is one of his specialties.
The context of the following verse is the crowd’s reaction after Jesus healed a paralytic. Although taken out of context here, It conveys exactly how I am feeling. “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen extraordinary things today.'” (Luke 5:26)