I'm Irish?




The first person that I ever met that I was biologically related to, was my birth father, Tim.

Shortly after we met, he looked at me hard, and said, "Wow, I can really see the Irish in you."

I politely told him that I am not Irish.

He said, "I'm Irish."

I told him what I was, French and English.

Again he said, "I'm Irish."

It finally dawned on me, Holy Crap, I'm Irish!  I was 20 at the time, and I sure could have used that information 10 years earlier.

I grew up about 40 minutes south of Boston.  It seemed that, with the exception of a handful of kids, everyone was Irish and Catholic.  Or Irish and Italian and Catholic.  I was none of those things.   I always hated St. Patrick's day.

My biggest problem?  Those big green buttons kids would wear on that stupid day of green,  "KISS ME,  I'M IRISH!"  At first, I loved those buttons and wanted one,  but when I told my best friend this, she smugly asked, "Are you even Irish?  I mean at all?"

I told her that I was pretty sure my mother is a little bit Irish. She, knowing my adopted status, pressed me and asked,  "Yeah, but are you?" She clearly did not subscribe to the 'everyone's Irish on St. Patty's day' policy.

She knew the truth.  I shared my extremely limited, non-identifing, adoption info on my birth parents, with her.  They were both of English and French descent (and Protestant to boot).  She was letting me know that I was not qualifed to wear the "KISS ME…" button.

It really wasn't about my wanting be Irish.  I didn't think I would get a pot of gold or suddenly be blessed with the luck of the Irish.  It was about belonging to a larger group.  I knew I totally belonged in my family.  The problem was their ancestors weren't actually my ancestors.  Their story wasn't actually my story, but I really wanted it to be.

When I finally met birth family, I found out a few things.  Like being Irish.  Like both sides of my birth mother's family are Mayflower descendants.  As much as I wanted to, I didn't feel connected to those ancestors either.  It didn't really feel like my story.

I have always been interested in the history of my adoptive family.  My cousin Gary (who we recently lost, far too soon) was a genealogy wizard.  He told me that we are descendants of both Presidents Adams and Samuel Adams.  That's cool.  But also not exactly my story.  My interest is not so much genealogy but stories.  I love to know about my parents and their parents and so on.  The genetics are not mine to claim, but, the people are.  You know, this man and woman fell in love and had this child, who fell in love with this person and had a child who turned out to be my grandmother, who loved and raised my mother, who fell in love with my father who in turn became my parents, who loved and raised me, so that I could grow up and love Kurt and become the parents of our four children and so on.

It took me a while to figure out that that was my story.  All of it.  Being adopted is part of my story.  Not being part of my family's genealogy didn't matter.  They are still my people.  I am part of their story, like they are part of mine.  My birth family is also a part of my story.  They were able to fill in the missing pieces for me.  All the details make up a pretty interesting story.  A good story. Mine to tell.  Mine to pass on to my kids.

Turns out I don't need that "KISS ME, I'M IRISH!" button to be part of a group (plus I can't find it anywhere).  But if you run into me next March 17th, feel free to pucker up and give me my due.