The Becoming Ourselves Podcast

Origin Stories with Kimberly Graham

November 25, 2020 Juli Wenger Season 1 Episode 4
The Becoming Ourselves Podcast
Origin Stories with Kimberly Graham
Chapters
The Becoming Ourselves Podcast
Origin Stories with Kimberly Graham
Nov 25, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Juli Wenger

We're diving into surprise adoption stories, secret cousins, and the power that origin stories have on how we see ourselves and define who we are. Kim and I talk about everything from the differences between our oral traditions as families and the discrepancies modern science provides, to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the impact of Disney movies, to blending of cultural heritage. Bottom line, you don't want to miss this one.


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Ancestry https://www.ancestry.ca/

23andMe https://www.23andme.com/en-ca/

*No paid promotion was involved in the making of this episode


CONNECT WITH ME

Instagram: @juliwenger

Facebook: - ww.facebook.com/becomingourselvespodcast

LinkedIn: Juli Wenger 

Website: https://www.juliwenger.com/

Show Notes Transcript

We're diving into surprise adoption stories, secret cousins, and the power that origin stories have on how we see ourselves and define who we are. Kim and I talk about everything from the differences between our oral traditions as families and the discrepancies modern science provides, to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the impact of Disney movies, to blending of cultural heritage. Bottom line, you don't want to miss this one.


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Ancestry https://www.ancestry.ca/

23andMe https://www.23andme.com/en-ca/

*No paid promotion was involved in the making of this episode


CONNECT WITH ME

Instagram: @juliwenger

Facebook: - ww.facebook.com/becomingourselvespodcast

LinkedIn: Juli Wenger 

Website: https://www.juliwenger.com/

Juli  Wenger  0:01  
Welcome to the becoming ourselves podcast where we believe that you are created on purpose with purpose and for a purpose. I'm Juli Wenger, a women's empowerment and identity coach and enneagram two committed to helping you step out of overwhelm perfectionism and self sabotage.

Listening to learn how to take back your power, uncover the stories and patterns that keep you small and lean into living your most powerful, purposeful and passionate life.

Let's dive in.

today's podcast is an interview with one of my best friends, Kimberly Graham, Kim and I know each other from the real estate space when I was still actively working as a real estate agent. And we used to jokingly call each other work wives because we did so much work together and brainstorming and all that. And she actually took over my business when I stepped out to do this podcasting and full time coaching work.

The reason I wanted to bring Kim in is because she is obsessed with genealogy and origin stories and where we come from family trees. And from a becoming ourselves and an identity perspective. It's really interesting how we attach to the stories of where we're from, how we attach to the places that we're from, to the cultures of where we're from, and how sometimes that changes. So stay tuned for everything from surprise, adoption stories to surprise, family relation, discoveries, and more. It's going to be a really fun episode. Let's get started. Tell me about where your interest in origins and history and ethnicity and all of this came from. 

Kimberly Graham  1:48  
So it came from my grandma. So her name is Lillian and she since passed. And she was I think very much a woman before her time. And it despite being forward thinking and a total feminist and a time when that wasn't a thing was very, very much tied into respecting her family roots. And not a time that I don't remember her telling me stories. So quite specifically, her last name is cholesky. And that is oppression. Last name. No pressure is a country or an empire, I should say that literally doesn't exist anymore. And you can Google it, and it capsulated parts of Germany. And so when I say that I'm part German, like I am from my mom's side, but on my dad's side, the Germans actually Prussian. So you know, not withstanding to delve into a negative part of being Prussian, they were very much blond haired, blue eyed people, like 99% of people in my family have blue eyes, but I'm a natural brunette, but with, you know, an interesting piece of history, and that doesn't have anything to do with us. But the Prussian people were Hitler's inspiration for his Aryan race, which is really disgusting. But then we go on into religion and all that stuff, and how that shapes and changes people, because the other side of who we really are is Celtic. So I mean, who doesn't like being Celtic? Like

berries and stone circles and Druids and witches? And that's, you know, I shouldn't say witches, necessarily, but they're pagan. They were a pagan culture, for sure. Yeah, you could go back into history. And I could talk about this forever. What makes that extremely significant for me is, I personally don't align with any one religion. My parents were raised in the church, and that was not something that they wanted, endowed upon their children. So not that they have an issue with religion. It's just they wanted us to choose for themselves. And I've always really respected that choice. And, you know, my grandma, she went to church, I have never asked her I never asked her and she was alive, but I don't think was something she fully supported. but on the same token, she supported individuality. So maybe she did. I think the thing with religion and I never aligned with it, partly probably because of my parents. And because my perspective of a growing up right or wrong is that is very patriarchal. And that doesn't align with who I am. But I also think about, you know, my ancestors being predominantly Celtic. And we'll get into like me doing my DNA and finding out some truths that I didn't know. And there's a bunch of crazy stories there about me and other people, but they were not a Christian people. If you really go back in time, I mean, if anything, they're pagans, for sure. And what's really interesting about the research I've done, and this is just me, I'm not an expert, is that those societies, they revered women, they were equal, they believed in strong warrior women, and if there's anything you know me better than anybody that if that doesn't define me, I just don't know what does so that for me, it was extraordinarily validating. And some people think all of this is hokey and Bs and I just don't like there's times where I see pictures of Scotland which is predominantly where my family is from, like the Midlands, the Highlands and specifically the islands. And I can just feel it. I can

feel the pull. You know, I don't mind the cold weather, I don't mind the rain. I actually think I'm genetically predisposed to be in environments like that. And as much as I think, Oh, God, I want to move to Costa Rica, and I want to smoke all day long. And of course, if that opportunity came, of course, I would take it. But I think there's always a piece of me, that lives in places like the North Highlands and Scotland. And what's really, really interesting is very recently, and I can't believe it took me this long to come across this. I came across the term called epi genetics, epi genetics, and so that I came across it in the context of

generational trauma, specifically relating to our Aboriginal cultures carry literally through you. And I thought, you know, does that literally carry like, do I feel an affinity for Scotland, even though I've never been there, and I can feel it in my blood, because I am Scottish. So and I think people who are really interested in their family history know exactly what I'm talking about. So there'll be people listening to this. And they'll be nodding and clapping, saying, Yeah, yeah, I totally understand because my family's from the Ottoman Empire, or we're Japanese, and I feel an affinity for whatever it is. And

that's a really long answer to how I got started. But it started because of my grandmother. And she was our family historian. And I think that that has now become my job. Grandma's telling you these stories, you're picking up on this affinity for your history, and where you come from, where you're told you come from what you feel carries through. And then it was what, a couple years ago, that you leaned into the, like the actual testing, the genetic testing, so tell us about that. Alright, so I'm going to actually start with the I think I started an ancestry account probably 10 years ago. I remember at the time, I wouldn't say I was poor. I mean, that's kind of a flippant statement. But at the time, I remember thinking like, Oh, you know, I don't really want to even pay for a high membership. And there was times I let it lapse, but in terms of tracking my family tree, that that's always been a thing. I've always known stuff. And it that's always been a thing, we actually have a family Bible that is from the cholesky and Rutledge side and that that's a thing, you know. So then it was again, around 10 years ago that I first learned that you could do such a thing, like spit in a tube and send it away, and they would tell you your genetic makeup. And that sounds like science fiction. And there you go, right? Yeah.

But I thought to myself, I am 1,000,000% going to be spitting in a tube. And a disclaimer, no, I don't care that people have copies of my DNA, maybe I should. But I firmly believe in not living a life of fear. And that's something I'm genuinely interested in. And I just, I just don't care. So that's fine. And I feel like if the government wants a piece of it, they probably already have it. So I'm not not even.

And like, let's be real, I'm kind of an open book, who wouldn't want to clone me, so I feel pretty confident that it's fine. So I thought to myself, I'm gonna save that one day, there's gonna be a day when that just feels not right, because I'm impulsive. And it kind of feels right all the time. But there's just going to be a day when that makes more sense. And so that came a couple Christmases ago when I came up with this idea. Because I don't know about you, Juli. But the older I get, the more I don't care about stuff. So I know the people listening to this can't see but behind me is my bookcase. And that is the most cluttered space in my life. And it's just because I love books. Everything else about me is kind of leaning towards minimalism. I hate junk just for this sport of buying junk sucks. So we did experiences, not stuff. And so we did a lot of like, plays and light shows and dinners out and just whatever. And oh my gosh, what a better time than ancestry kids. So I said to Todd, I'm doing this. I'm gonna buy this for myself. We're gonna do it Christmas 2018. I think do you want me to buy you one? And he was like, Yeah, sure. And to be honest, I was kind of surprised. Yeah. History factors in quite significantly later.

And then, yeah, of course, mine comes in a couple weeks. You know, it's kind of this official kit. But it's really, really easy. For those of you who have fears about it, you spit in the tube, you send it away. That sounds gross, but it is what it is. And then I got my results back. And there was a first cousin match that I didn't know anything about. I'm not gonna get into what side of the family he's from, and I couldn't figure it out at first. And me knowing what a weird sleeper I am, of course, you know, I wake up, it's one o'clock in the morning and I go get a drink of water. And of course, I checked my phone like the iPhone addict that I am and my ancestry DNA results are in. And yeah, Hi, I'm going down that rabbit hole. So I'm going to tell you what my oral history is. I'm going to tell you how different it was because to be honest, it wasn't that different. I'm also going to tell you that I've since tested at the so I initially tested at ancestry and then I've since tested at 23andme. And there's some differences

But they're more or less the same. some surprises that came out was the Irish and Swedish that we have no oral history of those things. Way, way, way less German. If you had asked me before, I would have said, you know, half Scottish, which is still true. And then a quarter German and a quarter Prussian, but half German half half Scottish. And that's not that's not the case. Like if anything, I'm less than 10% German. 

Juli Wenger  10:24  
Talk about that for a second, because I think this is part of what's really interesting when we're talking about identity work is we have this perception and this attachment to who we are, yes, who we think we are, like, I've always explained growing up that I'm half Danish, and a quarter Norwegian and like, quarter German. And then as I got older, I was like, well, grandpa's side is a little like, we're not totally sure. So maybe it's not totally a quarter German. And it was so fascinating to me, because like, literally my dad grew up in a town called New Denmark. Yeah.

Is Danish flags everywhere. This is a big part of our heritage and our culture. So I always attached to that more than I attached necessarily to Canadian. Yeah, now we're getting into this next generation where I'm taking my husband's half German, and like smattering of other Eastern European and Swiss and whatever, and combining it with mine and going, my kids aren't half Danish, this is not our identity anymore. If anything, they're more German than they are anything else. So it's been really interesting, just wrapping my head around. What does that say about who we are and where we come from, and how we identify. And that's not with adding in surprises. For my own identity. Now, I'm seeing this shift to what I've attached to. So how did that land for you getting this new? intake of information? 

Kimberly Graham  11:50  
Okay, so I'm going to answer that question. But I have to tell you something, because a lot of people will be out there and they say stuff like, well, ancestry is not real, because it first came out that I was 27%. Norwegian, and now it says I'm 36% Norwegian, and like, how can DNA change, DNA doesn't change. 100% DNA doesn't change. But what changes is the way that we understand it. And what it really is, if you look at all the people who have tested as a focus group, and they've tested also like artifact humans, that's a terrible way to put it. But you know what I mean, that they have found, if you want a really cool story in that Google chatter, man, England is a really, really cool story about that. So yes, the percentages change. And so what's interesting is when I got the results back, you know, at first, it just kind of drew like circles. So it draw circles around Great Britain and Northern Germany. And I was like, yeah, that doesn't match with my oral history. Like, according to my oral history, we're all from the south, like the Black Forest. So if you've ever heard of Black Forest cake, or black forest ham, like the Black Forest is a real place. So however, you know, not delving into too much of borders, and tribes, the borders, as we see them are our invention. So people are really tribal, they don't really fit. We've created borders, and we've created new tribes. And that's just different. But so when I first thought I was like, Okay, this is who I am, this makes sense, this more or less matches, and then they do an update, and they took my German away, and I had like an identity crisis. Because you're talking to the girl who more or less grew up thinking she was literally half German, took German in high school, I was a German exchange student, I used to think I was gonna move there. Like, I can speak most German. I don't, I don't, I don't have a response to that. And, like weirdly offended, take away a piece of the thing that you understand as a piece of yourself. And that's very jarring. But of course, you try to have an open mind. And then ancestry does another update and gives you a little bit back, and then that just becomes annoying, because you think like, Well, what do they know? Like, they know a lot. So then I thought, Okay,

I'm gonna go back farther. So ancestry has done a remarkable job of compiling pieces of data that are, you know, relevant, like census records and boat records and all of those things. So starting with my mom's dad, who we were told was German. Turns out he was born in Canada, New information. So I thought, okay, his parents were definitely born in Germany. That has to be it because, and my mom is gone. Like I can't ask her unless people are gone. Nope, he his dad had a German name, which actually is totally escaping me right now. yakob I think with a cane, but his wife was Irish.

Yeah, we sold in new information. And that was sending my grandmother was Scottish from the Orkney Islands. So going back now, all of those men for like three or four generations married Irish and Scottish women. So no wonder even though all the German names were carrying down through and it's much like what you're saying, like your dad was Danish and but now your kids that's that'll be a piece of their heritage, for sure. Because I think that we should give ourselves permission to attach to whatever makes us feel like us, first of all, and then I tell you, they keep doing these updates.

And then I sent my DNA there to 23. me. And that was a little bit different. The the Scandinavian shows up a little bit more on the 23andme side. But then they just did a huge update, where it shows the Scottish much more predominantly. And I was like, yeah, this is super validated. Yeah, this is because I'm Scottish. And that matches my oral history. And there's a part of me that also thinks that that's a little wrong to like, I shouldn't be offended, they took my German away, because culture sometimes carries through where DNA doesn't, right. And it can really only take a couple generations for like a DNA thing to disappear. So for example, if one of your kids marries a full blooded Italian person, and then and then no one else marries any Italian people, and a couple generations, they won't be Italian, but their name could be Italian. So that's just the science behind it. But when you attach, and when you align to a specific oral family history, and then you find out that there's a miss truth to that, that's jarring for me, and I'm not even adopted, like, these are my family, let's get into the story a little bit about finding surprise people you didn't know you're related to. So back to finding a cousin, so did find the cousin and you know, leave that person's identity and all their pieces private, this person knew they were adopted their whole life. We didn't know about this person, a close relative. And so I get matched with this person. And I'm like, well, who the beep is that? Like that? And, and again, genetics are funny, because everything is arranged, and it's called a centimorgan. And it's like a unit of measure, which I will let you Google because I don't want to explain I'm not a scientist. So you get connected with these people. And you think I've accidentally uncovered this family secret. And I don't know what to do with this information. And that, you know, that that at times felt like a lot. Like that felt heavy for me, because I didn't there's, I didn't want to hurt anybody. And I didn't want to misstep. But I mean, quite frankly, I completely forgot. And this is the honest truth that it connects you with people you're related to. That's not why I tested. I tested because I was Scottish Am I exactly hashtag a lot. But like, outside of that I, if you're familiar with ancestry, it goes like this, you log in, here's your DNA profile, here's people related to and here's family tree stuff. Sounds like DNA profile, guests go down the rabbit hole. And then when you're done doing the rabbit hole and reading all the things, you click over to people you're related to.

And my top match someone I don't know. And that's shocking. And it wasn't shocking in terms of my identity. But I mean, quite frankly, even if I had never reached out to this person, because I thought, Okay, this is for sure. Like, this low of cousins that have this little it's not, maybe it's more distant than I think it is, instead of more immediate. And

yeah, like, so I reached out to this person. And I'm like, Hi, how do you? How do we? How are we related? Like, do you know, because I can't figure out how you fit in my family tree. And there was some distinct things about this person that I couldn't place and yeah, so they email me back. And they're adopted, they always knew they were adopted, and they knew some things about their biological family. And I was like, Well, here's the thing. Even if I cease all communication, I have a very probably public life, like being in real estate, and just being who I am. My stuff's kind of everywhere, it'd be very easy for this person to Google me and find obituaries and connect and build a family tree, because I've done that for someone I know who's adopted and can talk about that, and work that backwards. So I'm just gonna tell this person stuff that I know. They have questions, they're adopted, and I just don't think it's my right or my job to stand in the way of that. Now, what's really interesting is I did all of this with, like, an open heart, and I thought I would do the right thing. And who knows, and I hope that people didn't get hurt. And I have since, you know, talk to talk to this person quite a bit. I've talked to, you know, these persons, their biological parents, and the people that I'm related to that are their biological parents. And who would have thought when you give up for adoption back in, you know, 5060 7080 like that this would have been an option. And here, this person is looking for their biological roots. And, you know, when someone tells you something that's shocking, and you're like, you try to rationalize that away, but that voice in the back of your head is like, okay, Kim.

Juli Wenger  19:30  
Well, I remember you phoning me, like, really? I have to tell you this like, and it was shocking for me as an observer in your life to say you have a what? No, yeah.

Kimberly Graham  19:42  
Yeah. And well, what's really interesting is based on this person, like there's some there's some clues I actually pieced together. So I'm up all night, because remember, I checked the email at one o'clock in the morning, like, Oh my god, and I'm up all night. I'm like, What did I just stumble into and this is insane. And there's only so many options.

I wear this and it could be legitimate or it could be adoption. And I don't know. And so, impulsively I send them a message just a friendly. Hi, who are you? How are we related? If you don't want to talk to me, that's okay, I won't be offended, like not thinking anything of it. And ancestries kind of funny because it tells you the last time someone logged in. And so it's funny because when I sent that message, this particular individual had not logged in for a number of months and had no profile picture. But when I woke up in the morning and checked again, because that was a dream, right, Julie that didn't actually I don't have secret on my tree that I don't I don't.

I log in. And this person, I put a profile picture and had recently logged in. So I knew I know, they saw my message. I know that's what it was, and ancestry send you emails and stuff. So

I had stayed up most of the night compiling a theory on who this person was and where they came from. And it's about as insane as you coming to me and telling me, you know, Kim, I'm gonna run away and join the circus and leave Dustin in the kit like that. It was insane. This is not a real theory. It's three o'clock in the morning, Kim, like go to bed. Stop overthinking it. And also, I understand this is really none of my business. but on the same token, who is this person? Well, and I think to like when we're talking about our family, like, yes, there's identity in terms of our origin that goes way back in terms of our heritage, right? What countries do we come from? What do I identify with, as you know, my cultural past, but then there's also this element of identity through family? Yes, we become ourselves in our family environment. And we're told about what the stories are, and how how our parents had our aunts or uncles, or grandparents present to us, especially when we're formational, like in those formational years of developing our patterns, and our personality and all of those pieces, and now you've got that piece that's changing. And this in congruence, essentially, between what you thought was real, and like, Well, what does that mean about all of these relationships and these people and who they say they are and who they are to me and spiral? Yeah, so I spiraled on that in probably a bit of a different way. Because that part didn't give me any sort of identity crisis. But what it did, it's like this, you know, when you're a kid, you think your parents are like superheroes, and they don't make mistakes. But then at one point, your mid 30s, you're kind of like, oh, they're just as messy adult as me, like, that's fine. We're all just trying to make it and you see them more as equals, as opposed to superheroes. And that's been my experience, at least I don't know about yours.

The obviously one of this person's biological parents is a, you know, somewhat close relative of mine. And so I've known this person for my whole life. And to know that that person, you know, those decisions were made. And you know, they were a part of something like that it actually broke my heart, it shattered it into 1000 pieces. Because I think about, you know, whether you're a man or your woman, and you're faced with that, and you know, pregnant out of wedlock, and all that stuff. When you talk about our family culture nowadays, that's not a big deal. If I were to come home pregnant out of wedlock at 20, or 16, or 25, a 0% issue, we would just help each other and there wouldn't be judgment. And I don't know, if there was judgment back then. I think, if anything, society shamed and judged people in that situation for, you know, on both sides of that, and that, that breaks my heart, like in a way that I can't, like, I had to sit with that grief, and it wasn't even mine for a long, long time. And I think I always will, because, of course, me I'm so logical, my response to that is to go research everything, and to join message boards, and just be an observer and, and read and try to absorb other people's experiences. So what what that showed me, first of all, is that people evolve. And that and that evolution in that sense of being liberal and being supportive, and all encompassing no matter what your mistakes is very much who my family is today, but maybe not so 20 3040 years. So this sense of self when it comes to who we are, and feeling secure, completely changed in our family, I think, I hesitate to say religion played a part in it, because certainly I wasn't there. And I don't know. But just in general, I know this society. And what we saw as proper was a man and woman get married, and they have kids and you don't have sex before marriage. And that's like super taboo and like our society nowadays is completely different. And our family's completely different. And that's probably because our parents were like, nope, we're not going to participate in that. And Nope, we're not going to be this and we're not going to be that. And what's really interesting is Neither of my parents knew about anybody being given up for adoption, like it had been kept this family secret and, you know, for the individuals involved, the biological parents involved like it just it hurts my heart that they were made to feel like that was their only choice. And certainly, if they wanted

To give this child up that is something I would have always supported, but I like to think if that happened now, there'd be different options. Let's change gears a little bit from, you know, you and your personal journey through finding surprise cousin into your experience with someone you love that, yeah, found out that they were adopted. And it was a surprise through this right? Yeah. So.

So yeah, so this person decided to send away their ancestry tests someone very close to, and found that they were adopted, and this person is in their 40s. So talking to this person's parents, you know, they told them when they were younger, and I don't, I think they use a different word or different verbiage. And I don't think it was anything, anyone who's ever ashamed of and it's something their whole family knew, obviously, that they had adopted this child. And their reasons are their own. But you know, what a beautiful, wonderful thing. You get married, have kids, and that doesn't work for you. And then you get to adoption. I can only imagine how beautiful that day was, and how lovely it was to get that phone call. And that's an understatement. I have no idea what that would feel like, you would probably know, but I don't know that I would. Not having kids myself. But yeah, so. And what's interesting is he sent away his because he specifically wanted to find people he was, like, related to

knowing full well that he was, you know, this ethnicity and this ethnicity. That didn't matter. His parents were from overseas. And like, obviously, I'm, you know, this and this. And getting the DNA results back and checking the email and finding out

mostly Slavic, and Russian was shocking enough into itself thinking you were, you know, German, like full German, and then clicking over and seeing the names. And yeah, so you ever have those panic moments where you feel like your world is in a tunnel, and I know, people online can't see me, but like, I'm squeezing my head. And that's how it felt like my vision was narrowed. It was like panic was setting in because I knew I was looking at something. And I mean, I was looking at something big. And because at the very top of that list was a birth mom. And who the Bleep is that? And that was my exact reaction as I was sitting there checking this email,

at home by myself. So I just didn't know.

Like when I say panic, sit in panic setting, which sounds completely ridiculous, and like a first world problem, but I can't even describe to you, I can't. And so what's really interesting is I knew as a birth mom, because ancestry tags, your DNA pink, or blue, male or female. Now, I think it'll be really interesting as our world moves forward, and transgender people test and that'll be really, really interesting. And they'll probably come up with a different color for that, or whatever they want to do. But this individual was marked as pink. And unfortunately, for me,

they used a pseudonym. Like, I love kitty cats, 44. That's not what they used. But it was as ambiguous as that I'm, like, cool you like cats. That's about all I can tell from your name.

And so you share the same amount of DNA with a parent that you do with a child. So knowing how old this person is, I thought, Oh, my gosh, like, have you Did you have a child that you don't know about? You know, like, maybe this girl's been looking for her biological father this whole time, and you just never knew. And that's, that's a really, really common theme I've run across in my research is that men have children they don't know about. And Nope, nope, nope. So he's like, Okay, well, we'll just have to call ancestry, we're just gonna have to call ancestry because obviously, they've mixed up the test, like an ad, and I'm like, okay, we're calling ancestry and like, anyway, whatever. So we call and so she like the idiot, that I felt like inside. And I'm, like, kind of freaking out and mildly hysterical, and like, trying to convince this guy, you know, like, I have the code. I took a picture of it before I sent it away, because that's my game. I just want to compare it and he compares it. And he's like, Yeah, no, that's right. Like, I don't, you know, and whatever. I'm like, No, no, like, you need to send me another test like this. This can't be right. I'm like an utter denial. But again, in the back of my head, you know, things are starting to line up and make sense. So he's like, ma'am, do you know how many phone calls I get from people who call and they found out things they don't know, about their parents age, about their lineage about anything, and they think it's wrong. And I was like, well, there it is. And that was a very sobering moment. So, you know, this person comes back into the conversation and I said to them look like, what do you want to do? Do you want to delete this and pretend it never happened? And thankfully, they said no, because that probably would have driven me crazy, but I wouldn't, I wouldn't. I would have honored that choice because ultimately, again, I'm a bystander, and this this is not my story. This has nothing to do with me. However, luckily for them, I am a fantastic researcher, like half a pie and I will find you and so I did. found his biological family. Now with that said, there's clues so for those of you out there

If you come across crazy news on ancestry, don't be frightened. I'm going to tell you some tips and tricks to find out information even if people don't talk to you. And the number one thing you need to know, it's super obvious, you can either have private locked family trees, or you can have public trees. If the person has a public tree and a Facebook or Facebook profile, a profile picture, they'll probably talk to you. So we started by reaching out to someone who would be on the biological mother side. And this particular individual was very responsive, like right away. So do I think he's this person son?

Like, what do you think that?

Wow, just because ABC, whatever his reasons were, I don't really I have no idea. And the irony is he turned out to be exactly right. And but I put that in, you know, this is in the vault of information. And off I went, and I literally built decades old family trees for both sides of the family, because it was very easy for me to tell, with this person's results versus my own. So my own at the time, I hadn't had either parent tests. So it just goes, here's all your matches. When your parents tests, it tells you which ones come from your mother's side and which ones don't.

So so I knew which ones were on the mother's side, and which ones are on the biological father side. And I would literally spend hours and hours and hours and I'm not exaggerating, building trees for each side, the paternal side and the maternal side. And I figured out a lot of information and in amongst my research, and eroded down to two sisters or three brothers. And in in amongst to my research, I figured out that you can send away for

an original birth certificate. So in Ontario, apparently is very open to this because they unsealed all the adoption records in 2008, across the country. So I have a couple friends who are adopted. And that's something you know, I kind of knew that. And then it just was in the cockles of my memory. And I'm like, Oh, yeah. So and So told me that she's adopted, she would know. So yeah, so I did that. And I'll never forget the day I got it back. And yeah, so the birth parents were who we thought they were. And what makes this amazing and beautiful and crazy, is they're still together. And they, you know, I, it was a long, long time ago was the 1970s. And one was much younger than the other and you know, complications in life and who knows.

And so yeah, they're currently in reunion. And it's, it's complicated to say the least. But I tell you getting photos of the biological family and the parents and comparing it to him. It was a moment in time that I cannot describe, because it's uncanny how much and to be told by his parents, oh, like, he looks like so and so and so and so died in 1991. And, yeah, okay.

And then to see pictures of his biological family and, and to see, to see it match and to see mannerisms that match and it's wild, it is wild, to be witnessed to such an experience to watch another human go through that it's, you know, it's such an honorable position to be in. And, of course, I find it wildly fascinating because I've always been interested in DNA and genetics and how people relate to nature versus nurture. And adoptions are really, really cool study of that. So yeah. curious about how you see our history or cultural history, your family history that, you know, story, we wrap around ourselves of who we are based on that as supporting and as limiting. Okay, so I think people are naturally going to choose the pieces of themselves that they like, in the pieces that they don't, so Canadians and Americans and people of the New World, okay, we're, we're very varied, like look at your kids could marry, you know, people from Asia, like, it's just gonna keep being varied. Versus the old world where, you know, you dealt with things like endogamy. So for example, my grandmother and her family were from Orkney Islands, like people can always afford if you married your fourth cousin, like it was just all the same pool of genetics, you were just orcadian Scots. And that's just what you were. And before that, you were Norwegian. And then the king of Norway's daughter married the Scotland son and gave the eyelid like, it's super weird before then you were just Scottish. And that's just what you were. And that's fine. Now, myself being half Scottish, and have other things I still align with being Scottish. And I still align with the fact that my ancestors were most likely Vikings. And absolutely, were Highland warriors, and I aligned with those pieces. So that, for me is affirming. And I think as we move forward in our world changes, and our borders, frankly, almost cease to exist because we live in such a global, frankly, like a global tribe now, and I hope it moves to that way. I just think that that's going to be more so so you could have someone who's from India marry someone who's Chinese and their kids marry someone who's Danish and maybe at the end of the day that that kid will align with their Chinese ancestors because that's the piece of themselves they like the most and I think

Juli Wenger  35:00  
It's something I've been thinking about. It's a bit random, but we find even with, you know, see Disney, how they're starting to produce more films with different

different cultures, different ethnicities, different stories, right? Like we're seeing African American, we're seeing more Asian, we're seeing indigenous, we're seeing, like, a good variety so that people can see themselves in it. So that little girls can see themselves in it. And at the same time, we're seeing like, Frozen, and I'm like, oh, shoot my princess, right? Like, I always grew up loving Ariel, but like being blond haired, blue eyed, you know, of the Northern European descent. It's like, okay, yeah, like, you know, they talk about in the movie, like, Well, my favorite Danish author, or whatever, I'm like, boom, you know, like, there's just this little bit of connection that comes. And so I think that that's like, it's really good that we're seeing more variety there, we're seeing more that, you know, a very varied world can identify with. And at the same time, what I'm curious about, as we continue to pay attention to this, you know, this dialogue and have this conversation is, how do we potentially over assign to the stories? How do we potentially give too much of our power to it? And how does that then breed, you know, the opposite of inclusion, and, you know, accepting diversity and you know, our common humanity. And I think that's like, that's the line we walk carefully with these things is, you know, how much of it is like, I'm Danish, and you're different. versus this is something I can pull some power from, or this is a story that helps me live into who I know myself to be versus, you know, yeah, going the other way. 

Kimberly Graham  36:48  
Yeah, that's a super good point. I kind of love that. So there's a lot of gatekeeping that I see that goes on, and people get keep the Stranger Things. And it could be that you're 50% Danish, and I'm 30% Danish. And I've seen, you know, I, like I said, I'm on many message boards, and I bear witness to these conversations where people will say, Well, I'm more Danish than you. So blah, blah, blah. Like it's not a contest.

like finding the journey, and the ultimate sense of self was never a contest. And I think the people and those of us who have always been on that journey, just kind of get it. Right. And we understand that you may be 50%, I may be 30%. But if one of my parents is actually from there, and you're just, you know, fifth generation Canadian, actually, I'm probably more tied into that culture. So it's not a contest and your question on how do people over assign, I think sometimes this is just pieces of who we are. On the same token, you can choose, you can choose who you are, you're not, you're not tied, I just find, like, I grew up, yes, listening to the stories, but no one ever told me my family was Highland warriors, I found that out by myself. So that makes perfect sense. We had no idea we were part in your region, like forget about that we got that makes perfect sense. When I think about the affinity to that culture that I have. I think the problem with over assigning, especially for those people who might be adopted and feel like they don't fit is you're trying to fit yourself into a box that just isn't for you, and you're trying to make it work, and you're gonna wind up not honoring who you really, really are. It's kind of like that adage, we're on everything. And don't let everything on, you just take this as pieces of not proof. But you can, you can take it as pieces of proof. And it can just sit with you. And it doesn't have to define you because in 10 years, I might wake up and go get on board with all of this. And then it's not going to be a piece of something that defines myself anymore. And I'm okay with that. Because I have other pieces of my life I don't align with the fact that it says I'm 49% destined 25% I don't care tomorrow, that's gonna change like ancestry is gonna go Wait a second. You're 30% German and and then I'm going to have a crisis about that. Because Where did all my secret Irish go? That I didn't know. You only think it's ultimately like what I'm what I'm hearing through what you're saying is our worthiness is not dictated by our you know, our ethnicity or cultural past any of that, right? Like our worthiness exists outside of that. And we're hearing that even in the conversation around, you know, Black Lives Matter. People were saying, I don't see color, which is such a load of bullshit, because it is about, let's see our differences, but let's embrace them. Yeah, like you and I are descendants of white Europeans. Like that's, I can prove that. I don't know. You, you might have smattering not to look at me.

Like when you said you were Danish, I was like, Yes, you are, like, exactly like what I think a Danish person would look like. But one thing I think I like about myself, if I may, is that and this is a gift from my mom. And I think you know, we had a very strange relationship. But we would grow up in our dinnertime conversation was discussing different cultures and specifically different religions and how people lived their lives.

differently and like what being gay meant and like, you should never ignore someone's color. Like, that's so disrespectful and you can ignore, like, if you look at slavery, for example, because that was the part of the conversation, you know, dinnertime and the 80s we learn about it in school and I remember going home and like not understanding how someone could just have the gall to like sail over to Africa and be like, you, you, you, you're now mine and like, steal them like, yeah, I can't believe that was a thing. And people went along with that. And it's it's literally the most disgusting thing that can happen. And taking away and saying, I don't see your color. You're just America, it doesn't. Isn't that disrespectful? I mean, that's not an answer I have, I would think it would be because those people, maybe they're really from the Congo, and they want to go back and they want to hold that deer? And who the hell am I to say they can't do that. And how amazing is that? And I have clients and friends from all over the world. And you know, one of my clients from Lebanon and the other day she said to me, her family history is from the Ottoman Empire. I have a lot of questions. And I'm so interested in so curious. And I want to know everything about how you went from like being a part of this to like Lebanon to like Canada and like all of this stuff. And it's so interesting. And I think if we all just took the point of asking because we're curious, and the people were asking to the point of Hey, this is someone who wants to be educated. What a wonderful world this would be.