Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What I've learned thus far from my DNA

 After a long two and a half month wait, my 23 and me DNA results are finally in.  When I first log in to the Ancestry Info, the first thing I see is “European/Irish”.  Hmm.   The only place Irish has ever come up in my history  is on my maternal side on my adoption  paperwork which I assumed was in error (probably was an error considering the pathetic record keeping of the time). My family tree on my mother’s side has not shown any Irish as of yet, but these ancestry results are from 500 years back according to 23 and Me.  So I’m newly Irish.

Here are the results:

I’m not surprised my results show more European as I’ve always suspected my father is European but with one line of his tree being Spanish or Mexican or Italian.  

I have never wholeheartedly believed, as my adoption paperwork said, he was a “citizen of Peru”, although as mentioned in other blog posts, I did want to believe his family was Italian (which was also in my adoption paperwork and I've suggested was a lie).  

I was hoping to find evidence of him being Italian, but thus far I have not.  I believe he is an American citizen and was working in advertising in the 60’s in a large Chicago advertising agency (think “Mad Men”) and likely one of his parents were Spanish.  (I should have listened to my mother who always proclaimed I was Spanish my whole life even with zero information on my background).   No irony in the fact that my favorite food is Mexican and I was always drawn to the Spanish language, and almost changed my major in college to Spanish.

In my over 800 genetic cousin matches, I was surprised to see that my genetic cousins live all over the world, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Spain and Mexico.  When you are thinking about cousins on the 5th or 6th level, we are talking great, great, great, great, great grandparent relations.  It blows my mind to think about it how many there are and how spread out we all are. Many of the names I am seeing in a minority of my matches are Hispanic names.

I noticed about 80% European names/places on my cousins’ info (i.e. Germany comes up a lot which has been documented on my tree as well as Scottish).  I was quite confused that Middle Eastern is 0. And no mention of Jewish.  However, after speaking with a cousin through FTDNA, I was informed that one part of the family were Sephardic Jews living in Spain during the Inquisition and many Jews left Spain fearing for their lives and came to Mexico and the Texas area where many of my FTDNA cousin matches list places of birth/residence. 

One other thing that I wanted to mention in this blog because I really believe that we are in certain places in our lives for certain reasons -- while my daughter was a toddler, I went to work part-time in an Italian restaurant where my supervisor was German/Scottish and Mexican.  

From the first week I started working there, employees kept coming up to me thinking I was her.  Then guests starting talking to her like they thought she was me (and vice versa).  This happened the entire 5 and ½ years I worked there.  I believe it was God/universe preparing me for the realization (which I had never consciously considered before working with her) that I was possibly Mexican or Spanish.  My supervisor seemed to identify more with her Mexican roots than her white roots.  I started thinking of myself as potentially non-white, even though I grew up in a completely “white” neighborhood and school and am generally accepted as “white”.  I started thinking of myself as Latino and about how, if others, knew from looking at me I was Latino, I might be perceived and treated differently.  

I saw evidence of the differences all around me at the restaurant where I worked.  The culture of the Latino people versus the white culture.  Who spoke to whom and who didn’t speak to whom.  The undesirable jobs were mostly done by the Latinos in the “back of the house”. Some of the employees barely spoke any English and it made it difficult at times to get food orders correct.  This job was completely outside of my experience from working in offices of mostly white people and attending schools of mostly white people and living in the Midwest in a white neighborhood.  I believe I am a better person for experiencing this microcosm of society and the lesson that being white is not only a privilege in this country, but comes with a set of blinders.

If you aren't adopted and are reading this, you might be surprised at the level of *genealogical bewilderment that adopted people can experience over their lifetime.  I'm even shocked at how much not knowing my family background has affected how I feel and think about myself. 

*"Knowledge of and definite relationship to his genealogy is ... necessary for a child to build up his complete body image and world picture. It is an inalienable and entitled right of every person. There is an urge, a call, in everybody to follow and fulfill the tradition of his family, race, nation, and the religious community into which he was born. The loss of this tradition is a deprivation which may result in the stunting of emotional development.
 E. Wellisch, who wrote in a 1952 letter to the journal Mental Health, titled "Children without genealogy: The problem of adoption"

 “Genealogical bewilderment evokes a nefarious air of uncertainty and befuddles a child’s ability to establish their true self-identity.” —Judith Land


  1. I'm hoping you find out more and more!! Praying!

  2. Genealogical bewilderment ... okay, that's a new phrase for me to add to the adoption glossary. Yes, I love this idea, and it just underscores that adoptees need, and have the right ... to know.

    1. Absolutely, Laura! Can we get an amen, Deanna?

  3. Fascinating. I have just been reading reviews of this book, The Juggler's Children: A Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind Us, by Carolyn Abraham. I definitely want to read it and I thought you might find interesting too. The most comprehensive review I found is here:
    but there are lots of others and they are all positive.

  4. Okay - so - you are a mix, cool. Now, remember this, you are still you.

  5. I've come back to read this article as Mom and I were talking about your genetic testing. Although my parents were both raised by their genetic parents and the same exists with me, you know how mixed my family is. Considering they both have roots in other places, West Indies and Latin America, our family never seemed 100% sure of our entire makeup. Like you, I've looked closely at other people and tried to find where I've fit in over the years. I've had the blessing of spending a portion of my life growing up in a primarily black (West Indian) neighborhood and then moving to a "White" neighborhood. Like Lori says, you are matter where you go. But, I understand wanting to know identify and learn about how you were formed before you were formed I get it.
    My sister is doing a genealogical search and Mom and Dad will do the genetic testing you've done. Without you, I would not have known about the availability of this service. Thank you. We've already linked some not so distant family to South America and Guayana...exiting! I've always known you had some Latina in you....I could see it in your complexion and oddly your body language.
    LOL...and that Hair of yours!!!! Love you Dearly and I love the discovery you've made over the years about who Lynn really spirit, mind and body.

  6. Thank you, Debra. I am so blessed to have known you for 30 years!! Yes, it has been that long!! Hugs:)