Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pondering My Discovery

So...how does one react to the results of a DNA test? My heart rate became elevated the second I saw that my results had been posted on the Genetree site. At first, I wasn't really SEEING the results...just scanning hurriedly, trying to find out WHAT I WAS. I saw the phrase "Haplogroup A2," which meant nothing...and finally found the link to the ancestry page. That gave me the "dot-map," which had dots of all the people in the database who matched (some exactly, some partially) my mtDNA profile. All in one place - Guerrero, Mexico.

Mexican.

I am part Mexican.

It took a minute to sink in. Instantly I realized how desperately I had wanted to be Italian. I thought it would explain the parts of my personality that make me feel at home with my Italian friends - which are the same parts that make me feel like a weirdo around my adoptive parents.

I feel ordinary. Not b/c of the specific ethnicity, but now? Now there was no mystery. Yes, it's only a part of the DNA picture, but I had erased that aura of "not knowing," of asking people what they thought I could be. The excitement of hearing the theories. The look in people's eyes as they tried to puzzle over my features. Now, that parlor game is over, and I am no longer an enigma.

I raced to Google this "Guerrero" and found pictures like the one above. It is beautiful country. My mind immediately began planning a family vacation there - just to walk among the people - to see if I felt a connection. Synapses firing wildly, I pulled up photo after photo...and then realized I needed to take a deep breath.

My husband's immediate reaction to the news: "Oh, no!" Wasn't sure how to take that at first, but he explained that he felt I wanted to be more exotic, and he was hoping I was partially black.

My kid's reaction was much the same. Maybe as a result of the negative media attention surrounding the illegal immigration issue - but she felt "common," even though she has all sorts of other bloodlines on her father's side.

I went to Walmart a few days later, and looked closely at the Mexican population I encountered. I look so different - sure, most of them are not tall people, but they are so dark. I have to tan for months to be that color. A friend informed me that the Mexican people are NOT all like the immigrants that I have seen. I felt ignorant. And then I thought about the Miss Mexico contestants in the Miss Universe pageant.

As I struggled to assimilate this new "identity," I felt as if I had been haughty and imperious in the past. Am I supposed to look at the illegal immigration issue in a different way? I didn't think I had discriminatory thoughts - but I had secretly resented their actions.

I took Spanish for two years in high school, and two years in college. I retained very little of it, and yet it was an easy language to learn. Romance languages are. But I never felt a "connection," does that make sense?

Should I learn the language again?

I wondered more about my mother. I thought more about the blonde man who carried me into that gas station restroom and left me. And I'm looking at my world differently today.

38 comments:

Karmyn R said...

I am e-mailing you.

Sandy said...

You are still you. I had a deacon once who asked the class I was taking on self-esteem, "if we are created in God's image, how DARE we see ourselves as anything less than extraordinary." Those words help me a lot when I am feeling unsure about anything.

Now, throw some lasagna in the oven and mix up a batch of margaritas!

Dusty from GeneTree said...

Tiggerlane,

I am Dusty, I work for GeneTree.com. I just wanted to share my opinion with you.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I will admit when I first had my DNA tested I was really surprised to find my origins which I never really knew.

One thing to remember is that GeneTree is only providing the MtDNA at this point which is only your maternal line. Hopefully soon the full picture will be available and you can see your paternal side as well.

Take care!
Dusty

Desert Songbird said...

I think on any journey of discovery, one will be surprised, disappointed, joyful, perplexed, and amused. They're all part of the discovery, and that's what makes the journey worth it.

Here's to more wonderment.

Simply Jenn said...

Aw Tigg ((hugs)). You most definitely are NOT common. I think you would have had a similar reaction no matter what the results had said. Knowing is harder than not knowing.

Alison said...

very insightful post...I am an adoptee also and have always wondered about my heritage...you have me thinking now!!

Melissa said...

What an honest reaction!

I would be worried if you didn't see things a little differently now. Either I'm insane (possible, you know!) or you're completely normal.

Slightly OT - my best friend is Mexican and she is as pale as I am! The only differences are her dark hair and dark eyes. You kind of remind me of her, actually. :)

Big hugs to you. This is huge news! Give yourself some time to let it all sink in.

Willowtree said...

That sure is a lot to take in and deal with, but I'm sure you'll do it. I'm not sure however, why you would feel cheated about being Mexican instead of Italian.

Aside from Mexicans being an ancient race, I grew up with Italian immigrants and they were all peasants (literally, I'm not being insulting, they were actually peasants).

But if it really bothers you, think Aztec rather than Mexican.

Kaytabug said...

Yea I am with WT! Think Aztec, that's exotic! This post was so raw and real. Thank you for sharing this. We can forget you ever told us and you can be whatever you want to be. If age aint nothin but a # then DNA aint nothin but a chromosome!

Yes, I know many full Mexicans and half Mexicans that are as pale as you are, I wouldn't say pale, I'd say creamy.
High 5 to your friend that reminded you that not all Mexicans are like the immigrant ones!

I'd like to hear more about the parts of your personality that make you feel at home around your Italian friends. Like what? It could still be explainable even without having to place you in a specific ethnic group.

I think I should have emailed you. BIG HUGS!!!

Susan in va said...

What interesting thoughts. I can understand how much you need to connect with that side of yourself. I think learning Spanish is a wonderful idea! I have two close friends that are 1/2 Hispanic - one is of Mexican decent, the other is Venezuelan. One knows the language, the other does not. It seems to come into play with their children wanting to connect with their ancestors. You should encourage your daughter to learn the language with you...it's a part of you both.

lisa's chaos said...

In regards to the shade of the skin, my husband is from Honduras and as a boy he was very dark. We lived in Missouri and Texas and he tanned easily and was medium dark, we live in Wisconsin now and soon he'll be whiter than I am and I'm really white.

I think you just keep living your life like you have been. Learn Spanish if'n you wanna but I don't think I'd run out and learn it if I found out I was from Mexico. But then again, I'm not in your shoes, you'll figure out what's right for you.

Junebug said...

Here's my two cents worth. Go back and watch "A Walk in the Clouds" and think about the beautiful Mexican heritage of that family. I think that is the most beautiful and romantic movie I have ever seen. And it made me love Mexico. Those grape vineyards! The woman that played Victoria was so beautiful and so are you. Her name was Aitania Sanchez-Gijon. I would have loved to be part of that family. So close and all generations! And just think Mexico was settled by Spaniards. So you would be Spanish and that's close to Italy. They are all Latin countries. You're a hot-blooded Latin! :D

Junebug said...

Don't you just love those villages and those clay-tiled roofs? I am part German, Irish, Isle of Mann, English, and Choctaw Indian but no Spanish or Latin.

M@ said...

Mexicans have quite a strata of melanin.

Anyway, what's wrong w/ opposing illegal immigration? Ahhhh, now that you think you should be loyal to people of your ancestry (i.e., racist), you must now kowtow to the societhnic special interest groups who support open borders.

Like everyone else in this debate, you offer false choices. You must support open borders or you are against poor people who are desperate.

Balderdash. If I was a poor Mexican I would do the same. There is a difference between legal and moral culpability. I don't blame poor people for migrating. I blame their government for failing to deal w/ their poverty problem as their country becomes even more stratified then ours.

The richest man in the world lives in Mexico. Mexico is not a poor country.

M@ said...

OK, I went off on a tangent. Your story is fascinating, Tigger.

sirdar said...

Sounds like this DNA thing has really got you thinking. I personally don't see how being Mexican is a bad thing. We are all one big world. Of course I wasn't adopted so really...I can't fully relate. Try and be thankful that you have/had such a wonderful life.

Sorry it isn't the ancestry that you were looking for, but, at least now you know. I have on my blog where this 'service' is now available to Canadians. But at the price they want, I'm not sure it is worth it for me.

Hope you can deal with it better in the coming days.

dailypiglet said...

this is a thought provoking post, with a lot of honesty.

i used to be ashamed that i was southern, but after living up north and coming back home, i really embraced my roots. i became proud of my heritage regardless of the stigma.

karisma said...

Im with WT. You are perfect just as you are! Whats wrong with Mexican? Now you know some of your background get on with your here and now.

Bond said...

You have found your ancestry...that is what it is...

The person you are has been formulating since the day you were conceived and has been molded by those who raised you, your friends, your wonderful husband and your incredible daughter...

You can explore your ancestry as deeply as you care, or not at all...either way, you will not change from the woman you have become and will continue to evolve into....

HUGS

Memphis Steve said...

Well, you are who you are and knowing where your DNA came from doesn't change anything about you, for whatever that's worth. You are exceptional and that's not going to change for better or worse depending on where your DNA came from.

Being Mexican can mean a lot of things. When I worked at a huge autoparts retailer at their corporate headquarters, we had an entire group from Mexico that handled all our operations there. They were all from upper-class Mexican families and looked very different than the Mexicans you see on the news running across the border. In fact, one girl I knew from that group, named Marcella, was so beautiful that Brides magazine used her wedding photos for one of their issues. She made the cover. Her husband told me once, "when I thought of Mexico I thought of little clay houses and people eating burritoes. I went to meet her family when we got married and they live in a mansion in a rich neighborhood. It was a shock."

The stereotypes of Mexico probably aren't very representative of most of it. Maybe you really should go there and see for yourself? It might make you feel more comfortable with what you've found out. But I don't think you should be concerned that you didn't take to Spanish much and don't necessarily have the view on illegal immigration that you think you would if you knew you had Mexican in you. You are who you are. I guess I'd ask this, if you change your views based on being told you have Mexican in you, and then they came back and said they made a mistake and you were really Italian, would you change your views again?

swampy said...

Oh my goodness, Tig ! I remember so well the first time I read the post you shared with us this story.
I'll e-mail the rest of my comment. (((Tig)))

Kaycie said...

So far, these are just maternal results. That is only half of you, genetically speaking.

The thing that strikes me most is that you are hanging a piece of your identity on your genetics. Nature over nurture, so to speak. But that's just the raw material. It's not who you are, it's the base under who you are. Other than losing a bit of mystery, you're exactly the same girl as you were before. And from what I can tell, that's pretty great.

Tiggerlane said...

karmyn r - great email, thanks so much!

sandy - what a GREAT statement! I love it! And I'll have to wait until my big move, before I can "oven" anything - since my oven is broken. But margaritas? CAN DO!

dusty - can I have a frequent flyer discount on that paternal test?

desert songbird - reminds me that I love the roller coaster of life, and you are SO right.

simply jenn - thanks, and I think you are absolutely right.

alison - I'll bet it would be easier for you - my situation was definitely bizzare. So, I encourage you to find out what you are ready for!

melissa - yeah, I laid it all out there - for everyone to see! Thanks - and you're right. It IS sinking in!

willowtree - I'm more "back to normal" than the day I found out - I'm going for Mayan Princess - what do you think?

kaytabug - that "DNA ain't nothin but a chromosome" make me giggle! And thanks - I actually think my wild expressiveness and loud mouth make me think I should have Italian or Greek. I would have TOTALLY fit in with one of those families!

susan in va - great thoughts! I really might investigate the language again - and it would be a great asset for my daughter to have that skill. Being bilingual in this day and age is marketable.

lisa's chaos - thanks for your words...and I was darker, too, as a child. I will continue to be me, with a twist of lime!

junebug - someone else mentioned the Spanish thing to me! I do feel drawn to the villages on the hill - I have to admit I'm mesmerized. And I have NEVER seen that movie - sounds like one I need to put on my Netflix. Thanks for making me feel HOT!

m@ - you are right about one thing for sure - I have NOT been able to understand why illegal immigration is the U.S.'s problem - we are "bringing democracy to Iraq," so why not force our neighbors to the South to provide a better life for THEIR citizens. And it's okay to go off track. I'll just be in your dreams again, as payback.

sirdar - I am better - I think the narcissist in me just wanted to be something like "from another planet" or something that sounded more exotic. You're right - it is only a tiny part of who I am.

dailypiglet - good to see you! And I know the feeling about the South - sometimes, it's tough to admit!

karisma - nothing wrong with it at all - just kinda surprised me! I'm doing much better now - I have settled back into the routine, just with more info.

bond - beautiful comments - thank you so much! I totally agree, and you have reaffirmed my thoughts over the last few days. Can I still be an honorary Italian?

nudememphissteve - great points, and good question. I actually had someone tell me (who is Mexican) that I resemble the upper class in that country. I DO want to go. And if they came back and said I was Italian? Actually, it WOULD change - I would feel justified in drinking a LOT more wine, a LOT more often! Teehee! But very interesting thoughts - thanks for sharing.

swampy - loved your comment and email - thank you so much!

kaycie - many thanks! I guess the nature/nurture thing is really a big reason I did this. I've heard of twins who were separated, then found each other - and they had SO much in common. I am ALL nurture - and I wanted to see if some of who I am came from my "nature," make sense? And I'm not sure if it does, b/c I'm really not sure what ethnic traits would be the "nature" part.

bermudabluez said...

A very honest post, Tig. You are you and nothing is going to change that. If knowing your heritage is going to help you get on with your life....then it's a good thing that you found out. I think it will just take time for you to let it all play out. Best Advice: Relax and have a Margarita! Cheers!!

Junebug said...

Tigger,
If you haven't seen that movie, you must watch it. It is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It was beautiful and moving and sexy and interesting. All that and more! :D Keanu Reeves was very good in it but I loved Victoria's mother and father. Did they ever have chemistry. Woo!

Dusty from GeneTree said...

Hey Tiggerlane,

I will certainly look into it for you! Would you mind emailing me your experience and story for use on the GeneTree site as a help for other people?

dusty@genetree.com

Pamela said...

it's easy for us to forget that you are living this - while we observe from a safe distance.

I regret that you have experienced pain and hope that it was short lived.

You may never get to enjoy putting together a family tree/blood line. But the culture and heritage that is yours through your maternal line is beautiful - and so is everything that extends from you.

Tiggerlane said...

bermudabluez - I actually can't believe how honest I was, but somehow, I trust you guys! Thanks for the encouragement!

junebug - I MUST, but mostly b/c KEANU REEVES - HOT!

dusty - maybe, but my adoptive parents don't know I did this...so I'm a bit nervous. Feel free to email me (found in my blogger profile), and we'll see what we can do.

pamela - it was short-lived, except my kid is bothered by it. Which I didn't see coming! It's all good - thankfully, I have a lot of friends and self-confidence.

Memphis Steve said...

Sooooo tequila or wine, it's all the same. Just pour your wine into a tequila glass and put some salt on it. :)

Occidental Girl said...

It's interesting, the implications of race or ethnicity.

I agree, that you are you. It doesn't change that fact. It does add some dimension, though, and that's a lot to digest.

Tiggerlane said...

memphis steve - I opted for Miller Chill. Beer with a Mexican twist.

occidental girl - I feel like me again, after the digestion period was over...but it did take a week or two!

Caroline said...

You are so brave! You went where some people dare not go! I would be doing the same thing as you if I had the start to life that you had.

Your story is amazing and worthy of a book or a movie. Thanks for sharing the results and Hey! Maybe your biological father was Italian!I'm sure you will keep digging until you find out the rest.

XXOO

Tiggerlane said...

caroline - I didn't feel so brave, as I read the results- and you know me well! I'm gonna dig deeper. Thanks for the encouragement!

Sauntering Soul said...

Tiggerlane, I think you're so inspirational. Thank you for sharing your raw and honest emotions.

I am dating a Brazilian guy. As far as skin color, etc. he's dark skinned, black hair, and has dark eyes. His grandmother was Indian and he got her color. His father was white with blond hair and blue eyes. It's amazing the diversity that's found in Latin and Spanish cultures.

I had some views about immigrants before I met him which I look back upon and I'm honestly not very proud. Since I've gotten to know him, I see the struggles he experiences every day (as a legal immigrant) and I understand why he made the sacrifices he made to come here and how much it means to him to succeed here in the U.S. He has a number of Mexican employees working for him. Through him, I've learned what an awesome culture they are. I hope with time you will be able to embrace your cultural roots. Please don't get me wrong - I understand your feelings. I just hope you will feel peace and lots of pride about things once everything sinks in.

Tiggerlane said...

sauntering soul - thanks so much for all that you've written, and I will most certainly heed your helpful words of advice. I have come a long way - and hope to come even farther in embracing my heritage. Just bizarre at first, and now it's finally assimilating!

theotherbear said...

Everyone else has already said it all so all I can say is - Wow. Very honest and powerful post.

wolfbaby said...

your post is beatiful just as you are. You are who you are your genetics don't make you.. you do.

In a way your not much different then the rest of us in the U.S. I know my parents so yes that is different but i don't know my heratige anymore then most folks. Unless it is blatently obvious most of us dont. ( we just have family legend to go on;) I think (smak me if im rude here i don't mean to be) what your really looking for is something of your parents in this. Who can blame you? wouldn't we all love to understand who are parents are and what they do and why they do it? You have a beatiful soul and that is what makes you special, not anything else.

take care

James Burnett said...

I agree with whoever said "you are still you." Now you just have a little more history to frame it around.

Glad you were able to find out a little more about yourself.