I am a mystery.
Not being coy here, just stating a fact. As an adopted kid, I have no idea where I came from. If I look into my history past the point where I ended up on my parents’ doorstep, I find a locked door that I’ve never felt the need to jimmy open. Whatever’s on the other side can stay there, for all I care. I might as well have been born from sea foam, like Aphrodite. There is absolutely no evidence to the contrary…
All that being said, let’s cut to Valentine’s Day, when I received an odd gift from my ex-husband: a 23andMe health and ancestry kit.
Had I asked for this? No.
Was I even considering DNA testing before receiving this kit in the mail? Nope.
Is it weird to get a gift from your ex on V-Day? Maybe, but that’s a topic for another post. And, honestly, this is more of an anti-gift, which seems fitting…
Some adopted folks want to mine as deeply as they can into their pasts, even if it means getting dirty in the process, because they feel an overwhelming need to understand their origins.
I’m not one of those people.
Watching the commercials for 23andMe elicits a string of smartass comments aimed at the smiling dopes happily discovering that instead of coming from one primarily white country, they actually come from another primarily white country. And they sure seem excited about it, don’t they? So excited that they go from attending the German heritage functions of their youth to wearing kilts and shit. Because these results would be definitely enough to make you change longstanding family traditions. As long as you’re still 100% white, amirite?!
It’s ridiculous and anyone who has ever sat through one of the commercials with me has probably heard my profanity laden rants on the subject and are beyond tired of them. I often wonder just how enthusiastically said smiling dopes would react to the discovery that some of their ancestors were actually from Africa instead of Germany, Scotland, or France like they always thought. I wonder how many folks who believed themselves to be white have been shaken to their core by the pretty, color coded, seemingly innocuous results of their DNA tests…
So, I have this kit, and it cost close to $200 bucks (yes, I looked it up). I didn’t buy it, but the thought of wasting that kind of money is abhorrent to my innate thriftiness. Just letting it sit unused is out of the question. But do I really want to know what lies behind the closed door of my history? Do I want some faceless entity to have samples of my DNA readily available in their database? Adopted kids are finding their biological relations through services like these, which is the last thing I’m interested in. I’m fine not knowing where I come from. That has never troubled me. It, instead, sparked my imagination and led to hours of daydreaming from the time I was a child until today.
But, if I’m being absolutely real, I just don’t want to find out information that I’m better off not knowing. That’s truly the long and short of it. Nothing I find out about my ancestry will change my day to day life (if you see me suddenly wearing some form of traditional African dress, feel free to call me out as a boldfaced liar). I won’t be shocked to hear part of my disconnected biological relations came over unwillingly from Africa. That really goes without saying. But the health stuff is troubling. Do I want that kind of stress in my life? I really can’t decide what’s more anxiety inducing: knowing your family medical history or not knowing anything at all.
You might be asking if I’ve sent in the test yet.
It’s still sitting here on my desk in plain view, taunting me and serving as a great reminder of why my ex and I are divorced (kidding/not kidding). Who gets this for someone for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate, gents. Or books. Damn, I’m not hard to please.
I like the mystery in my lack of history. Just because we can know everything, does that mean we should? Is knowledge power, or just more fodder for worry?
That being said, I’m going to take the fucking test. Maybe I’ll report back on the findings, maybe I’ll read them once and never look at them again, or maybe I’ll be consumed with crushing dread at the sheer emotional weight of what I discover. Who’s to know? I just hope I don’t end up moon-eyed and ridiculous like the overly excited saps on the commercials…