The Loudmouth Protestant

January 6, 2016

And It Begins: The Genetics Journey via 23andMe

Filed under: family,life,transparency — nickisym @ 9:16 pm
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As a person adopted at a young age I’ve lived most of my life with a lot of unanswered questions. I don’t know much about my birth mother except for the fact that social workers claimed that she would have made a good mother, she had hay fever allergies, and she was quite pretty–this according to a description of her, I don’t know what she looks like. For most of my life, thus far, I’ve been ok with not knowing much about her but I am growing increasingly wary about not knowing the things about her that effect me such as ancestry, carrier status, wellness, and traits. I’m tired of filling out medical forms and primarily answering “No” to questions about all manner of illness and disease. Tired of telling various people “No” when asked whether I’m Somalian, Ethiopian, or Eritrean. Tired of a general lack of knowledge about where I come from and how that impacts who I am. Hopefully, I’ll receive some answers through the DNA collection service, 23andme.

IMG_115723andme is the first and only genetic service that delivers reports directly to clients through an FDA-approved system. Once they receive this vial of my spit–yes all it takes it a vial of your spit–they will run tests that will yield information about my ancestry, carrier status of certain diseases, wellness, and other traits. I will finally know a little bit more about who I am, what I have, and what I may pass on to the next generation. This feels like the beginning of knowledge. It’s the key that will unlock information about myself that has been unknown for the better part of 35 years, information that I’ve increasingly become interested in knowing over the last five years. I’ve found that in my 30s, the greatest challenge of living with an adoption narrative–aside from the pervading issue of abandonment and being chosen, which are still pretty big–is not knowing some of the intimate details that make me who I am.

I have no problem with my inherited narrative of being adopted at eight months old by a married couple, the woman from New York and the man from Jamaica, who came together to give me a chance at this thing called life. They instilled in me a strong value system, raised me in a religious tradition that has imparted its own value system, and loved me and protected me from the moment they set eyes on me and still maintain that same level of love and protection to this day. I’m thankful they adopted me into their family which is now my family, a family that has made me a cultural Jamaican, a fighter, and a strong lover if not always by word, surely by deed. But at 35 it feels like I need to know more. More about who I am, the science and biology behind who I am. I want to know for me but also for who might be…

It dawns on me that these questions are important not just for myself but for my future children–when I decide to have them. I don’t want them to have the same life of filling out forms in which they answer “No” out of ignorance. This is why knowing my carrier status is so important. I also want them to know where they come from and not just to assume that because their mother is a black woman of Jamaican cultural heritage, that is their story. This is why knowing my ancestry is important. In general I want them to have a rich narrative about their life filled with the love, care, and compassion I came to know through my adoptive parents but also filled out with the knowledge of who they are because I know who I am.

That any of this filling out of a life narrative could happen from me spitting in a vial might be wishful thinking on my part, but I hope that I will come at striking distance of fuller knowledge of myself. Stay tuned as I start this journey on the verge of becoming knowledgeable about myself…

PS: A big thank you to my parents for two great gifts; first the gift of adopting me into their lives and now for this 23andMe kit.

 

 

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November 27, 2009

Treasured Moments

Filed under: family,life — nickisym @ 12:26 am
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I meant to write this yesterday but the words weren’t flowing the way they needed to be. But here I am in the midst of my family, sitting here watching everyone and thinking that though we are all our own special brands of crazy, like bats out of hell, it is heaven to be able to share that and work it out together. I don’t get to spend time with my family often, but it’s moments like these that I treasure.

I treasure the moments of gleaning wisdom from the elders in the family and listening to their tales of growing up in Jamaica. I treasure the moments of laughing with my cousins about the long-winded stories of the elders. I treasure the moments of watching the domino experts play the night away until they reach six love. I treasure the moments of having a good home-cooked meal. I treasure the moments of just watching family be family. We aren’t perfect and we may not get it right until long after many of us are gone, but all we have is each other. And, although I wish I had more time to spend with them so that we could grow in love, together. I will not focus on what I don’t have at the moment and be grateful for what I do have, this moment.

December 27, 2007

27.1

Filed under: family,God,life — nickisym @ 10:54 pm

Yesterday was my birthday. It’s usually not a day full of fanfare but I try to do little things like buy whatever I want, spend time with family and friends, and thank the Lord for yet another year on the planet. Yesterday was really no different.

I started the day out in a Firestone and departed to head to the mall to take advantage of the day after Christmas sales–this is based on my need of clothing. Later on, my parents took me out to dinner and as we finished our meal I began to get a little weepy and emotional.

My mother looked at me and said “27, you are getting old, but here’s to many more years.” I told her that I hoped that it would be many more years spent with her and my father to which she replied–as if reading my mind–“My mother is 90 years old, so I have a long way to go.” It’s moments like that with my mom that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I held back my tears because I believe what she meant. I believe it because there is nothing like a mother’s love. I believe it because I want to celebrate my birthday with her for years to come. I believe it because I can’t wait to introduce her to the love of my life. There’s just something so precious about a mother’s love and I thank God for it because when friends and others fail you, mom is there is pick up the pieces.

So on my first full day of 27-ness I am preparing to head back to NY and it feels bittersweet because I do love being at home with my parents–despite moments when I feel like I am being driven up the wall. It feels safe here. In my maturation I am recognizing that my love for my parents has grown and continues to grow deeper. I pray that God will always protect them and bless them. After God, I know in this moment there is no greater love.

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