WHO AM I?

When you think about your identity, where do you think it comes from?

Obviously, it comes from a variety of places and experiences throughout our lives which gives us an eventual opinion of who we are in relation to those around us. But where do you think it is kick-started from?

Our genetics and where we come from play a massive part in who we are and our sense of belonging. It is so ingrained into our being that our very souls long for it if we grow up missing any part of it for any reason, even if that reason is for our own safety and well-being.

On Monday night, I watched the new show “This Time Next Year”. The people on it were all amazing and pledged to themselves something which in 12 months’ time they will have accomplished. One of those heart-warming stories was that of a man who appeared to be in his late 60’s at least. I didn’t catch his age, if it was mentioned at all. This gentleman’s goal was to find his mum. He was told in a not-so elegant way at 14 that he was adopted. With the encouragement of his (adoptive) mum, he started looking and has been searching for over 50 years. On this program, he pledged that this time next year he will have found his mum. As he was explaining his plight, I could feel his emotion about how he had needed to know things growing up but never had the answers.

Over the following 12 months, the investigator working on his case, finally tracked her down. Unfortunately, she had passed away in 2004. However, the detective was able to locate a full-blood sister. He met his sister and subsequently, three other brothers as well. The look on his face compared to when he made his pledge was one of peace – he had finally found his roots, where he came from, his genetics, his origin. The hole in his identity was now filled. Watching from this side of the screen was so touching. Although, I’m sure there were a few less tissues in their boxes elsewhere in the homes of others who also watched the show, for me, I just couldn’t stop smiling for him. It warms my heart that he was able to enjoy a happy ending to his search.

This man’s yearning to know about his biological origins is a good example of how withholding such things from a person can have a profound lifelong impact. No matter how loving our childhood is in the families we grow up in, if we are missing any part of our genetic make-up in our lives (particularly mum or dad), we will crave for it, whether it is good for us or not. There is no substitute. There’s a million more stories the world over telling of the same heartache and yearning for genetic (biological) identity and just as many reasons as to why it is that way for that person.

Where we come from matters more than we would like to admit. If it didn’t then the recent trend in DNA testing for ethnic origins wouldn’t be such a big thing. No one would care. But they do. And they care because it makes up a part of who they are, it helps with understanding their ancestry and thus where they are from – their genetic identity.

So, allow me to ask you…….

Where are you from?

How diverse is your ancestry?

Why is genetic identity important to you on a personal level?

I’ll start……

I’m from Australia and live on the South Coast of New South Wales.

My ancestry includes: Irish, English, Cornish, German, and French.

It’s important to me because it gives me an explanation for some of my physical appearances, as well as giving me connections to other countries and the wondering of possible relatives living in those parts of the world. It creates for me a picture of my history and how it all comes together to meet me where I am today while at the same time showing me the layout of my genealogy. It enables me to learn about my family tree on an intimate level. For instance, learning who from the past I share similar traits with. Maybe I can find something I can jokingly blame on being hereditary!

My biological make-up is not all that makes me, me. But it is a part of who I am and a part of my identity. With it I am holistically me!

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