By Steve Novotney
I’m 48 years old today, and I am a blessed man.
I still have both of my folks, an awesome wife and two kids, and my extended family is better than any dream could contain. Seriously.
But today also marks 48 years during which I have never knowingly seen another human being with the same DNA. No “blood” relatives. No genetically connected, biologic kin. Not that I know of, anyway.
I have no clue who “my people are,” and if you think about it, that’s pretty odd.
See, I was adopted by the greatest two people on the planet, and I adopted the greatest two children in the history of children. Despite our efforts, my wife and I did not produce a child, so my personal biological lineage ends with, well, me.
Shoot, I don’t even know what nationality I am. For all these years I’ve adopted my parents’ heritage – Slovakian and Dutch-English – but I always knew the truth.
But the mystery about what my DNA reveals will soon be delivered to my email inbox, and that’s because my son and one of my best friends, James Guy, presented me with my first birthday present of 2014. And it wasn’t something most people consider buying their father and friend.
The pair gave me an Ancestry.com DNA kit. I provide the saliva in the tube and properly package it for pre-paid mail delivery, and then I wait. Anxiously.
Am I German? French? Dutch? Truth be told, I think I’ve always looked like what I am – an “American Mutt.” I don’t have the nose or the eyes or the lips or any other facial features that are a dead giveaway for one nationality or another. I have a few freckles; I’m kind of tall; my skin burns a bit and then turns pretty darn tan; and my once glorious head of thick hair fell to the floor during my 20s.
I’m often asked whether I have ever contemplated tracking down the man and woman who created me, and the answer is always a quick “No.” That’s because I know who my parents and family are, and I couldn’t care less about discovering any biological connections. I had a great childhood growing up here in Wheeling, my mother and father were very active in my education, and my parents have played huge roles in my adult life as well.
Discovering my ethnic background, though, is a gift that can never be matched no matter how much money it takes. My son and James did not know how I would react to the DNA test because they knew I was unaware of its existence. As it was explained to me, I was left speechless by the sudden ability to discover something, anything, about who I am and where I came from.
And I’m betting I’m French. Maybe a touch of Italian? It would explain why I crush the Brie and baguettes from Good Mansion Wines each weekend and my affinity for perfecting my pesto sauce.
But whatever the test results reveal, Edward and Marilyn Novotney will be my dad and mom, and that fact will remain – even if I prove to be of Russian descent.
If that’s the case, though, I’m positive my late Grandma Novotney would have a little something to say about that!