We adopted Leah from Cambodia in 2002 when she was 7 months old. According to her file and testimony from her orphanage director and the village chief, she was abandoned within days of her birth. I still wonder if someone somewhere might know something, but without any clues to begin a search, Leah’s birth family history is a blank. That has always bothered her. “Where is my mom?” “Who is my mom?” “Why can’t I meet her?”… she’s asked these questions since she was very young. “I don’t know” is as unsatisfying answer to give as it is to get.
We can’t do a search. But perhaps we can at least gain a little more insight into her genetic history. I’ve thought about doing genetic testing for a while, but didn’t want to push Leah into doing something she wasn’t ready for. Plus, I really didn’t know where to start with that either.
Over the years, genetic testing went commercial and the prices came down. It was a realistic option. But I still wasn’t sure. I put it off a bit, to be sure Leah would know what she was agreeing to.
Last spring, while I was homeschooling, we were studying early American history and I found this show, “Digging for the Truth” about the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Josh, the “investigator” uses DNA and family tree histories to try to prove that there were survivors from that colony. As we watched, I explained to Leah that this was the same kind of testing we could do to try to find family connections for her. She was fascinated. Interestingly, the show didn’t find conclusive evidence. A bit disappointing, but also a good reminder for us that DNA testing is not magic – it has its limitations.
Leah wanted to do the testing right away, but we were in the middle of a move and a lot of other craziness, so I put it off for a few months. She kept asking, and then 23andMe had a deal, so I ordered the kit. And yesterday, at Leah’s prompting, we sat down together and did the test.
It’s really easy. Basically, she just had to spit into the tube they sent. A lot.
You have to get to the fill line, and spit bubbles don’t count. Once you do that, you just click the lid on, it mixes with some liquid in the lid, you shake it up, put it in a sealed bag, pop it in the provided mailing box, and it’s done. (You also have to go online and type in the bar code on the tube; smart people do that before spitting in the tube. I’m not so smart. But at least we did it before we sealed the box!)
Now we just have to put the box in the mail and wait for the results.