Monday, October 17, 2011

Motivation Monday: What motivates me to trace my heritage

What motivates me to trace my family's heritage? Probably the sense of identity it cultivates. With each new discovery as to who my ancestors were I feel a growing sense of who I am. That's important to me, being adopted and all.

I know some adoptees don't feel the gnawing need to discover where they come from. My sister Debby, who was also adopted, (her birth name was Stevens) never wanted to know anything about her birth mother. Not until she was dying that is...then for a little while she cared. Why then I'm not sure...maybe she thought that somehow a biological mother could give blood or a transplant or something and make it all better. That's what mother's are supposed to do, right?

But I had known almost all my life who my birth mother was and I spoke with her on the phone the first time when I was 21. So for me tracing my family tree was not a voyage of discovery to find out who my birth parents were. I know that. (Or thought I did)

No, I started with my adopted Dad's branch. I just wanted to find these people who had been his kin. It was a wonderful puzzle wrapped around history, two of my favorite things. I searched and searched for those dog gone people for ten years before I got a good solid lead. I swore (of course) that they must have been beamed down.

So in those early days of the beginning of my obsession my motivation was the shear joy of the hunt. The solving of the puzzle.

But now, I do this to connect with those who came before me. I still enjoy the hunt, but I feel more of a connection with the ancestors now. I try to learn about their lives, not just find out their name and fill in the blanks. In learning about them I learn about myself. I see my stubbornness in my grandmother Flavie. Her inability to hear the phrase, "No, you can't" has been passed on as well. I can't wait to find out where I get my twisted sense of humor from or my overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

That is what motivates me.


  1. Love this. I think when people are faced with their own mortality, it's common to think who and where you came from. Just my observation. I could be wrong. [I often am.]

    And? My Dad gave me the "Never say, 'I can't...'" lecture when I was little and I had first said it. Profound. And it has and will always affect everything I do.


  2. I am constantly telling my four-year-old to never say "I can't." I love your motivation. I also love the connection I feel when I find an ancestor. I wasn't able to meet them, but finding them now makes me feel like I have an even larger extended family.