December 27, 2018

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?