|Source: Sara Sheets|
I got the results of the paternity test yesterday. I think most people are just used to knowing who they are and where they belong. When something as fundamental as who your parents are is raised into question, it makes one think about roots and community, history and futures and what constitutes a family.
Having never known who my biological father is has always left a sort of empty place in my life. A question I couldn't answer. When I was younger, it was simply a question of who could have made me and were there other people out there I could call brother or sister or aunt or uncle? Later, when I had babies, it became a little more important when a genetic test on one of my boys came back that there might be a problem. We had to go through genetic counselling and I couldn't answer any questions as to my medical history. That was scary. It turned out alright and both boys are healthy fortunately.
More recently, I have found that this question was one I wanted to answer in order to have a sense of belonging, a sense of historical value and signifigance. This has had me longing for an answer more than any other time I can remember.
The man I have come to think of as a father over the years is Brady (for a funnier look at who he is and the story of how he and my mother met, click here.) My mother told me when I was nine years old that he was my father. In fact, I was born with his surname on my original birth certificate. My mother divorced him when I was one and married my sister's father, Tony. My mother later convinced Tony to adopt me so I would have the same last name as my sister and a new birth certificate was issued. My mother made no mention of Brady again and I thought Tony was my father. Up until the age of nine, I had no knowledge of Brady, nor that there was any question that I belonged to the family that I knew. My mother had, by then, long since divorced Tony. In deciding she wanted to go to Tennessee for a while (that is where Brady lived) and needing a place to live, she told me about Brady and took me and my sister to meet him.
At that meeting and ever since then, even though we later lost contact because my mother moved us away again (and again and again) Brady has always tried to be a father to me. When I found him once again in my 30's, he helped me fill in alot of blanks regarding my birth and whether or not my mother was actually my mother (I had doubts!) and remembered so many things that it was obvious he had genuinely loved and cared for me. We have stayed in touch ever since. Along with Brady, I gained two brothers (his sons from another marriage) who also love me as a sister.
In spite of all of this, I have recently felt a little disconnected and in need of an answer. I visited with Brady and was talking to him and we decided to go ahead and get a paternity test done just to address the small chance that he actually could have been my father. (The question was there because of the timing of when he and my mom would have been intimate and when I would have been conceived.)
In order to do the test, I did a google search and found a company called GTL Genetic Testing Laboratory. Brady and I were able to collect the samples ourselves and, following the simple instructions, submit them via mail to the laboratory for testing. It was inexpensive (less than $100) and fast (less than 2 weeks). I received my results via email last night.
In the back of my mind, I expected that the results would be negative because of the original conversations regarding the timeline. Yet, I held out a little hope for a difinitive answer. As I write this, and knowing the answer, I find that I was still holding out for a positive result in spite of the fact that I really was operating under the assumption that the test would be negative. As I have been waiting for the results and, having written about the process here in my blog, I have found some things to be true. They are:
No matter that I have never known a biological father, I have a man who loves me like a daughter anyway.
I have a sister, husband and children who are mine and love me. In marrying Kurt, I also gained his entire family who have accepted me and love me.
I have friends who love me...many of them; in fact, more than I realized. Some of them have even told me they consder me to be as good as family to them...how about that?
I have, by staying put in one place for all of these years to raise a family, planted roots. Overall, my family and I have added value to our community by participating and working and joining.
So, it turns out that the actual question of paternity isn't the most important thing afterall. For me, this has been an eye opening experience in that I have realized that I do belong, regardless of whether I ever find out who got my mother pregnant.
So, to answer the question at hand, the results of the test are that the alleged relationship with Brady is excluded...he's not my biological father. But what they can't test in that laboratory and what I do know is this...he is the only father I have ever known and that, it turns out for now, is enough.