Meeting My Ancestry
By Courtney Kruger
“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness. ” ― Alex Haley
On April 16, 1990 I was born in Caaguazú, Paraguay. Three weeks later I was adopted from Asunción, the capital, by my parents and whisked away to Morenci, Michigan where I would live for the next 18 years of my life.
On that year, in 2008, my high school senior year, I found myself alone in my English teacher’s empty classroom reading that quote by Alex Haley. I have no idea why I was in there alone, or why I decided to look through her bookshelf, or why I picked that particular book and flipped to that particular page, but I did. On any other year it might not have stuck with me as much, but this was the year not knowing where I came from had started to bother me.
I think it had been growing ever since the previous year when my mom and I posed for a picture before my junior prom. When we got the pictures back I remember seeing, like really seeing, how different my mom and I looked. I hadn’t ever paid attention to it before. Being adopted was always just a thing I never thought much about, and I still don’t, but at the time it started weighing heavily on my mind. Like Alex Haley says, I felt this yearning and this loneliness in the not knowing and it bothered me.
I wasn’t the only one who started noticing a difference in my appearance during high school. It seemed like more and more people asked me every mixed kid’s favorite question, “What are you?” Personally, I never got offended by this question, because I knew people were just being curious. However, I understand it can wear a person down and why someone might get sick of it. After years of being asked if I’m Mexican, or Hispanic, or Latina, or Japanese, or Hawaiian, or an Eskimo, etc.; I’ve started to see why people get annoyed. It’s frustrating to not know the answer to such a simple question, which then leads into why don’t I know, which then leads into a small discussion about being adopted… It had become slightly annoying and embarrassing.
When a child is of a different race than their adoptive parents that can be called transracial. Specifically for adopted children in this scenario it can mean confusion and a misconnection to their actual race. All my life I’ve felt white. My parents are white, I was raised in a very small white community, and was never really expose to my heritage. When I started noticing differences in myself I no longer felt connected to any group. I was out on my own, unclaimed. Eventually, I gave up on the idea and went on with life. I got over it, because I thought there was no other option.
Fast forward almost ten years to 2017 and DNA kits are becoming a popular new trend. A quick Google search of “DNA kit” will give you three of the top brands: Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage. Along with a friend, I made the plunge on August 17 and purchased my DNA kit from Ancestry.com for a total of $88.95.
For best results in your journey through your results, Ancestry suggests you download their app. This app helps activate your kit, walks you through giving and sending your spit sample, and is how you receive your results, along with an interactive map.
From the very beginning, they warn you it could take up to 6-8 weeks to receive your results, but they update you every step of the way via the app. All those years wondering where I came from, and for some reason, it took me a couple weeks to actually open the kit and give my sample. On August 18 my kit was shipped, I activated it on September 2, and it was received by Ancestry on September 19. My kit began processing on September 25 and on October 5 my results were finally in!
Originally, my friend and I were planning to get together and go over our results, but we couldn’t help ourselves. I looked immediately after I saw the email. Paraguay ended up being nowhere on the map, which was a huge surprise. In general, I’m 54% European, 38% Native American, 6% African, and 2% West Asian. Most recently, my heritage comes from Chile and Ecuador, with half my linage being European, most specifically from the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal, Spain).
What’s funny about this whole experience is I had thought all my life once I knew what I “was” I would feel this sort of complete satisfaction. I know now that isn’t going to be true. Now that I have this huge answer to a long held question I have even more questions. I have these countries I’m now officially apart of, but I still don’t feel connected to. Now will be the journey to finding those answers. But for now I can confidently say where I come from whenever I’m asked, “What are you?” And I really like that.