My daughters and I have been doing some digging around our family tree. There are so many great tools out there to help, and my daughter Paige just had her DNA tested through ancestry.com.
I did it a few years ago, but I have not been very good about keeping up the research. Thank goodness for inquisitive children. Her ancestry story recently produced some valuable information. We found relatives on my father’s side of the family I had no idea existed.
I knew of my paternal grandfather, but had little information about the rest of his family. I now have a ton of people to talk to and some of them live a short distance from me. What really excites me is that there are people who are alive whom I can talk to and interview and have their stories for generations to come. Most of my relatives have passed on and the family has been shrinking these last few years. Also, I never knew of any other Robinson I was related to. Now I have found them. Looks like my family tree is growing — and I am so happy.
This is also so important, because this process helps us see past the family rumors. For example, we always thought my father’s side of the family was partially American Indian. But the DNA tests showed there’s none at all. Speaking with my newly found relatives, I found out they were told the same thing. Turns out our heritage takes us back to Ireland and Scotland and finally to a place in Bladen County, North Carolina where my grandfather David O’Neil Robinson was born, more specifically in a place called Ivanhoe. My DNA test revealed I am 51 percent West African and 49 percent European.
This new information also gives us greater insight into our medical histories. No longer can the medical profession just take us at face value — they have to look deeper, and for example, stop weeding out certain diseases based on racial assumptions. That happened to me. No one was considering a possible explanation for something that arose, because it is mostly seen only among whites.
But genes don’t lie and they told my story.
I hope you can find a way to embrace your story and get your kids in on it, too. It will change all of your worlds.