I think because my parents were both adoptees and I spent most of my life with no idea of my heritage or our family’s origins, I am particularly sensitive to the need to know. Most people take what they know about such things for granted. Adoptees are grateful when they are able to gain such information, since so very often they encounter only obstacles, sealed records, hidden identities and struggle with a lack of family medical history when they have unusual health challenges.
So I have gifted my husband and both of my sons with 23 and Me kits. I want them to have a clear and honest understanding of their own origins. For me personally, it isn’t the most comfortable situation but as my own family history indicates, it is important and I understand that.
Inexpensive DNA and the matching sites of 23 and Me as well as Ancestry do out family secrets now and even 20 years ago this was not an obvious risk to keeping secret children conceived in novel ways made possible by advances in reproductive science nor does it keep secret the relationships of adoptees to their true genetic relatives.
I think it is all for the good because genetics is now proving that DNA has more influence than previously believed. A book – Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are by Robert Plomin – makes a persuasive case for the primacy of genes over environment in shaping our individual personalities. The genetic influence is great even in areas we’d hitherto assumed were almost entirely environmental.
So, you may need to reconsider those “secrets” you thought possible to keep from your children because chances are, they will know the truth for themselves eventually and if they didn’t hear it from you, they will likely feel they were deceived.