Sunday, May 10, 2015

Solving My Own Mystery Through 23andme.com

Ever wonder where your love of mysteries comes from? I have. Maybe it is because my whole life I was a part of one. As many of you may know, I recently celebrated my 40th birthday, so when my family asked me what I wanted for a gift for this monumental birthday, I knew right  away. I wanted to know the answer to my family mystery, exactly where I came from.

Growing up I always knew I was part of a family mystery that struck through the core of my family and my mothers heart. She was adopted. Not as an infant but as a child of about age 5. I live in Canada and my mother and I were born in the French Speaking Province of Quebec.

My mother and I at my baptism in 1975
  In Quebec, until very recently, you were not given a birth certificate like many other provinces and countries require,  instead you were given a 'Certificate of Baptism' when your family had you baptized. My mother was born in August (we think) of 1954. She was placed in foster care at the age of 1 and adopted by the age of 5. All records of her adoption from the Red Feather Society were lost due to a Fire in the 1970's.
A photo of my mother just after she was adopted in 1959
Growing up my mother was open about how she felt being adopted, about how she never felt truly whole, that she would search the faces in the street hoping to see it reflected in a mysterious stranger. But that never did happen. When my school teacher sent us home with a family tree or history assignment my mother was always visibly upset and sad. I was too. I too felt like I was not whole.  In my teen's when the internet started being a place to go for answers I spent hours on advocacy websites trying to get the answers for my mother. Answers that never came.

My mother's grandchildren

 When I had children of my own I was pleased to learn my mother finally saw those faces she longed for, in the faces of her grandchildren. Finally seeing a family resemblance within her own family, she could not see it in us her own children but was unable to deny them in the faces of her grandchildren.

Our last Christmas 2009
 My mother was ill most of her adult life, putting everyone else's needs first, she was a foster mother to more than 40 children in my lifetime; right up until the last year of her life which was 5 years ago in September. When she died, I thought the mystery and all its clues went along with her.

What I did not know then was that I still held the most important clue and that the answers about who I was and where my mother (and ultimately myself) came from were still very much alive, inside of me!

While DNA testing has been around for many years. There are several companies in the USA who do tests like the one I did through 23andMe.com but I live in Canada and many of them would not take on Canadian clients. I was thrilled to learn 23andMe.com would give me the information and tests I wanted. 23andMe gave me more than just where my ancestors came from, it also provided me with key evidence of my medical history and hereditary traits that my mother always felt guilty she never new. Information that is truly fascinating to me.

My mother read books in a way that I now admire and in turn our home is wall to wall books. I know my love of reading comes from her even though it was not until my 20's when I was able to overcome my own dyslexia and find comfort in books. She read everything she could get her hands on, especially if it had anything to do with Ireland. She loved everything Irish and she never knew why. She secretly wished that she was Irish.
My husband ordered the kit for me in March and I sent it in the first week of April. My results started coming in April 30th. By May 3 I had the most amazing news from 23andme.com. I was 52% British/Irish. My mothers dream of us being Irish was TRUE! I cried, I was over joyed and I am still amazed. My mother's feeling of being drawn to Ireland her whole life and not ever knowing why, her gut feeling, her wish; it came true because all along it was in her and it is in me too.

 Today on this Mothers Day as I sit down for that first cup of tea, I finally know my mother's history. I know where I come from and exactly who I am.  Even though my mother who died always wanting to know where she came from and never knowing, I take huge comfort in being able to share this with my family and with all of you. I am so thrilled today to finally feel whole and no longer like I'm missing a piece of my own puzzle. I am moved to tears and my "Irish Eyes" are truly smiling today.



Thank you for joining me for my true mystery, my story and of course a cup of tea. To find out more about DNA testing through 23andme please click here.
As with all my posts I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at karenmowen@gmail.com

12 comments:

  1. That is fantastic Karen. I am waiting on my DNA test to get back and hope it answers some questions for me also. Happy Mothers Day

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    1. Wonderful news! Let me know how yours turns out!

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  2. That is fantastic Karen. I am waiting on my DNA test to get back and hope it answers some questions for me also. Happy Mothers Day

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  3. Thank you for the interesting article! Happy Mother's Day! Just wanted to send you a quick congrats on being included in 'Shadow of a Spout'; it was a great article that you included in it!

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    1. Thank you Mama Cat! I loved being asked to be included in Shadow of a Spout. Thank you for noticing and enjoying it! It was an honor to be asked!

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  4. What a wonderful story! I've done 23andme, too, and am still exploring all the results a couple of years later. There's so much data! One of my cousins and one of my nieces also did it and it's great fun comparing our results. Your mother always "knew" she was Irish!

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    1. That is amazing Janet! Thank you for letting me know! The data is fantastic and will take me a long time to figure it out. Thank you for your kind words. I wish she had known for sure.

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  6. Dear Karen: I had not read this information until today and it touched me very much, as our son is adopted, and we know very little of his heritage, but were told that his family was Canadian prior to relocating to the US and we were told his heritage was English and Irish. OMGosh, your results and what we were told struck a big chord. Our son has wanted no part of knowing who his parents are as he was a badly abused baby when finally taken into foster care in the US. He just hates to think about the first year of his life before he came into a loving home. He was 11 months old when we adopted him and he had a lot of problems to contend with, and so did we, as a result, but as long as we could help him and give him love, we knew that he would be okay. . He too, was dyslectic and had many learning problems, which does not mean that he is not extremely bright and very talented, just as you are. I wish that he would want to find out more about his heritage, but he is now 44 years old and it is up to him to initiate his search. He is just satisfied to know that he is part Irish and that is enough for him. Perhaps he doesn't want to find out that what we were told was not the truth, I don't know, but he has always considered us his parents in all ways and has had no desire to do more to find his birth mother. Who knows, you and he could be related in some way but I guess that is true of all of us, with what they say is 7 degrees of separation, right?? Our two little grandgirls are adopted from China and maybe someday they will want to find out more, but at age 4 and 11 they are content with how things are. We are so lucky to have all of our sweet adopted children and it doesn't matter to any of us what their parentage is nor their heritage really, as long as they are with us and happy and can be loved as much as we can give them, and that is a LOT!!!!

    Thank you for sharing your story. :)

    Hugs,

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    1. Thank you for sharing yours! Adoption is an amazing journey and it is fantastic to have this ability to find those missing clues!

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