I’ve been researching my family tree for thirty years. I started the research when I discovered my grandmother was part-Maori. I learnt about my descendant, Wharetutu Tahuna, and I stood near the beach where we believe Wharetutu is buried. I felt a connection and wanted to know more. So, two years ago I made the decision to take a commercial DNA test because I was curious about how much Polynesian DNA I had.
I sent off the DNA test in November 2016 and about six weeks later, just before Christmas, I had my results. My heritage indicated British and Scottish ancestors. The Scandinavian and Irish were a bit of a surprise… but there was no Polynesian. I was so confused so I decided to phone the DNA company. Their plausible answer was I probably didn’t inherit the markers their company tests. I accepted what they told me but something was niggling at me. On Christmas Eve I posted my results on Facebook, with the comment ‘Something seems weird. Confused’.
I was spending Christmas Day with family and early morning I received a phone call from an old friend. “Kim, I think you need to know the truth, you were adopted”. As a child I had asked my mother several times, “Am I adopted? It’s OK if I am, you can tell me”. But it was still a shock to hear the words.
Externally, I was calm and trying not to let my emotions get the better of me. It was Christmas Day and I didn’t want to spoil it. I tried very hard to act like everything was OK, but after a few hours, I cried and had an urgent need to talk to anyone who could confirm the news. Each person I spoke with already knew – cousins, uncles, aunts and family friends. I remember feeling “silly” that I hadn’t worked this out myself. Everyone knew, except me. Why didn’t my mother tell me when I had specifically asked her?
I had little information to go on, as my adoptive parents had passed away. I knew I was born in Auckland and that was it. I wrote to Births, Deaths and Marriages in New Zealand for my ‘pre-adoptive birth certificate’. It took forever to arrive and when it did, I discovered my biological mother’s name, but no father was listed. I started searching my DNA matches but nothing would link me directly to her. Obsession took over and I was determined to find out who I was – I thought my birth parents may not be alive or at best they were elderly, so I felt a sense of urgency. I wanted to know who they were, what did they look like? Did I have siblings? What if my birth mother had been looking for me for decades?