Adoptees Who Search: There's Always Something Left to Do!


 


When I was searching for my maternal family, I went by the saying, “There’s always something left to do!” Every time I thought I had exhausted all avenues and there was literally nothing left to do, I was wrong. There was always another stone left unturned and if I thought long and hard enough, I would discover it. I’ve taken to using this as my motto for the paternal search as well.  For any adoptee who is searching and feeling like you've come to the end -- you haven't. I promise. 

Keep going!

With my maternal search, "something left to do" was limited to the search itself. With my paternal search, DNA testing has changed things.

When my mother died, taking my father’s name to her grave, my first recourse was DNA testing at Ancestry, 23 and Me, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and Gedmatch. (Soon I will also test with National Geographic DNA. I just found out about them. Supposedly they yield more international matches. We’ll see.) All the ethnicity mix came back mostly the same in that I am 38% -40% Greek. Some of the test say Greek and others list it as Balkan, but when you drill down on it many of my matches come from the Peloponnese region of Greece. My adoption file says that my father was partially Greek. The DNA tests confirm it. That was one thing I was never lied to about. Yay for truth. People who are very knowledgeable about DNA have reviewed my tests and say that it appears my father more than likely had one parent originating in Greece and another from the United States. 

Although I don’t know who my natural father is yet, it brings me comfort to know where I’m from even though I don’t know who I’m from.

With this confirmed, I have some other cool things besides searching that are left to do. For instance, Ancestry has a new feature that creates a Spotify playlist for you based on your DNA. I have been listening to the music of my people. It brings me some small sense of comfort to hear the sounds of a culture I am technically part of but have never been immersed in.

I have also been researching Balkan food and exploring and enjoying it more. (The Balkans include Greece, Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey.) My DNA results pinpoint Greece however I’ve been branching out to the Balkans in general.

I ordered myself a gift to celebrate new year’s eve. I ordered a jar of ajvar which I am planning on enjoying with feta cheese and olives on some crusty wheat bread. My friend Gayle who I've written about many times here at AR will be there with me on New Year's Eve and I'm sure she'll try some. And, we'll talk about how we both believe that "this is the year." And one year, it will be. Because I'm going to keep going. And she's going to keep going. 

Tomorrow my husband is taking me to a Balkan restaurant in nearby St. Petersburg. I mentioned it to him and he was really excited about going there, so this should be an adventure. I'm hoping Gayle and her husband David will go with us. I’m particularly excited to try their salad and whatever dish the server tells me is the most popular. Usually when I go to a new place that's how I decide what to try.  

My husband has started researching cruises to Greece and we plan to take one in 2020. I am hopeful to actually know some of my Greek family members before we do that, but if not I will still enjoy it to the fullest.

I am so thankful for DNA testing and research. In the adoptee world of more questions than answers, the results provide me with something concrete to stand on as far as where I come from. There are some traditions like music and cuisine that I can participate in even while I wait for that DNA match that will hopefully unlock not just the where but the who.

If you are an adoptee who is still searching and experiencing the frustration that comes with waiting, what of your heritage can you celebrate while you are waiting? 
    

Why I Struggle With This Time of Year More Than Any Other as An Adoptee (And Who God Sent to Help Me With That!)



Last week I received a Facebook friend request from a lady named Linda. I was so excited. She is Kenny’s wife!  (If you have no idea who Kenny is, you need to read my last post.) Kenny is not connected on social media, but Linda is. And she’s just the sweetest. Here is part of her first communication to me on a Facebook message:


Hey Deanna! It’s wonderful to hear from you. Kenny and I feel like you've become family.  Kenny has been checking with people in the family and people that might have graduated with your Momma. We haven't heard anything that would help you yet.  But as you know, God is great every day! I am praying for you that God will lead you to some answers and peace of mind in knowing about your Daddy and other family. That would be a blessing for you. I hope Kenny and I can meet you one day. I hope you and your family have a very blessed Christmas. 


This is the first of many messages with Linda and I am beyond grateful for this couple. For all the frustration I have in dealing with a few  idiots people with my search, I am reminded through people like Kenny and Linda that there are people who are willing to help a person who was once a stranger. There are people with heart, who do the extra mile without being asked. (I initially asked Kenny to help but now he and Linda do a lot of searching and talking to people without me even having to ask. They really care.)

It was a joy to mail Kenny and Linda a Christmas present yesterday and thank them for their kindness.   

I realized a few days ago that it seems like the Christmas season is always the worst time I struggle with the issue of not knowing my natural father. Every holiday season my friend Gayle and I talk about it more than any other time. I drill down in working on the search during the month of December more than any other time even though it's a crazy busy month! I was ruminating on that this past week and tried to figure out what it is about Christmas that compels me to do this. 

I suddenly realized, it has nothing to do with Christmas. 

It's the fact that another year is almost over, and I don't know who he is yet. And if he's not dead, time is running out. 

Adopted and Searching: Today I'm Venting





I’ve got to get this off my chest, so here goes.

Usually I do not use this blog to vent, but to share my journey, educate, and open people’s minds to another way of understanding life adopted. But today, I'm ready to rant.

So this week I met a man. His name is Kenny. He’s the nicest man in the world. I’ll take it further – he’s not just nice, he’s amazing. When I take my next trip to Virginia, I’ll be stopping off to have coffee with Kenny, for sure.

It’s amazing how in just a week’s time you can connect on a deep level with someone. I'm part of a Facebook group that is made up of people from my natural mother's hometown. I joined in hopes that someone there would know something and help me. These people have been so kind and generous to me, trying to do anything it takes to help me with my search. It was recommended by some of them that I talk to Kenny. His family lived only a few doors down from my natural mom's family and they are very well known in town. Not only that but his 94 year old mom is still alive and has a mind as sharp as a tack.  

Kenny doesn’t have a Facebook page, and he doesn’t even text! He’s one of those rare people in the world unconnected to social media of any kind. But, when I called he already knew who I was, because so many people on the Facebook page had told him my story.

Kenny immediately welcomed me into his life and his heart and wanted to help me. He wants so badly for me to find my natural father. He wants to do anything it takes to make that happen. So far on his own suggestion he has not called but driven to and stopped by several people’s homes to talk to them about the situation…people he feels certain know something. On Thursday night he actually went to the nursing home to talk to his mom about my situation. He implored her, "Mom, keep thinking about this. If you remember anything, no matter how small...please let me know so we can help Deanna."

“You deserve a Christmas miracle,” he says. “You deserve to find your Daddy…” he says. “I know if this was my Daddy, I’d want to find him. Who can’t understand that?” he says.

By now you are wondering what in the heck I am here to vent about. Here goes…

On my journey I have met several people who have been willing to help me at this level and in some cases beyond. Many people I have cold-called have actually taken DNA tests for me. They have immediately opened their hearts and their homes to me. Numerous people took my cold call, talked to me for weeks or months, and after meeting me said, “Oh my God! I hope you’re my sister!” or “I’m hanging on waiting for the DNA results hoping you’re my cousin!” or “We’re already planning a family reunion to introduce you!” I’ve been through this again and again…with people who just days or weeks ago were STRANGERS and are now among my cadre of friends!

What I’m venting about is that the people who DON’T have the information are most often the most amazing, loving, nicest people in the world. And the people that DO have the information? I can’t even say here what they are without losing my ministerial credentials!!! I can’t even describe them without God Almighty telling me to watch my language!!!

The people who DO have the information can be the nastiest people on the planet.

WHY? WHY? WHY?

One of the people in my natural (maternal) family who I am sure knows more than they are telling is always posting stuff on social media about kindness.  Stuff like this:




I wish they would stop posting stuff they really don't believe or practice. They aren't kind. If they withhold information about who and where people come from they are NOT KIND. They are not nice. 
Truthfully it’s starting to concern me a little bit that if my natural father’s family already knows about me, they may be included among the mean people who hoard information and don’t want to know their own flesh and blood.

Why are some people WITH information so mean? Why do they feel it is their right to withhold information from people who by all human rights should know where they come from? 

If you are reading this and you are holding information from anyone whose pain could be taken away by you sharing it, can I implore you to please give up your mean card and tell them what they need to know? What they deserve to know?


Kenny brought me to tears on Thursday. I was leaving work when he called. He had a phone number of somebody he felt it would be helpful for me to call. I let him know I was driving home from work and asked if he could text me the number. “Remember, I don’t text,” he said. Can you get a pen and pull over?" I promptly pulled over into a church parking lot nearby…the “Church at the Mall” in Lakeland, Florida. Sitting there I took down the name and number of the person he wanted me to call that night. A few minutes later after I wrote down the information and was still talking to him, I pulled back out of the parking lot onto Memorial Boulevard and he said, “Deanna, when all this is over, will you call me sometimes, just to let me know you’re okay?” 

[Insert tears here.]