Here is a little known fact about me. I was adopted as an infant. My adoptive parents raised three of us in a wonderful loving home. I wish that I had been able to share with my parents, Dolores and Vincent, the profound sense of gratitude that I feel for the life that they provided me. Their sacrifices for us and the love that they gave to us, impacts me more as I grow older and observe my own family. All this came into focus for me when I decided to take the Ancestry DNA Genetic test.
What would have that life have been like?
The genetic test result revealed a very involved story. It turns out that my immediate maternal family includes two biological brothers and a brother-cousin and 2 more brothers on my paternal side. If you are wondering what a brother-cousin is; we share the same father between two sisters. It is a complicated tale that may turn into a screenplay or short story. At this later stage of our lives, we have now met, shared our stories and stay in contact as our individual families grow.
For me, this advance in genetics raises a profound grief, one that is hard for me to reconcile. This is the grief of having met my biological brothers and grieving for the “what might have been” life.
What if I had grown up with them?
It is complicated by the fact that if I had been raised with my biological brothers, then my story would have been very different. It may have also altered the biological family structure. In my maternal and adopted family, I was the oldest child. In my adopted family, this meant that there were expectations of what I would do with my life. In my biological family, I will never know just what or how those expectations would have shaped my life. Thinking about many “what if” moments is hard for me. The life that I have led would not have existed. I can’t imagine a different life, different friends, different schools. I cannot comprehend not having met my wife Nancy or having our children and now grandchildren. I can’t stay in that space for long before I get a headache.
In the age of genetic testing and the possibility of tracing your biological family roots, I have been lucky to find my biological brothers. I had not anticipated the unexpected sense of grief when I decided to take the test. It is a mixed bag of emotions that stems from those two separate branches of my story that will never be resolved. There will always be questions and a sense of wonder.
The 1950’s were a much different time than today. My birth mother made an extremely hard decision. Although it has taken the better part of 60 years to uncover the story, getting to know my brothers, their lives, and their families, who have been so open and supportive of me has been a wonderful journey. I appreciate my good fortune to have been adopted by my parents and the life they provided. This life of mine has been blessed in many ways.