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When I got the email that October afternoon, the first thing I did was click on the link titled Your Ancestry DNA Results Are In.

I placed my laptop on the dining table. It was the same table my grandma had in her tidy one-bedroom apartment. My grandmother, Nana, often brewed a pot of Ceylon tea served with cream and sugar. She was English and believed a cup of tea was the answer to every question.

My inbox refreshed and the results email popped up. Click. I logged right into Ancestry. Like 23andMe, I noticed the greater percentages of Germanic…

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The rattle of his truck tailpipe faded away down the street. Gone. My hand still shook as I fed my son a spoonful of mashed sweet potato. I didn’t like fighting around the baby.

I’d had enough of it, the drinking, the whisky on his breath, the cans piling up in the garbage. Chances were Fergus had gone for a pint at Mick’s. He went for pints at every other Irish pub in New Orleans, making the rounds until he hit the whisky bottle. About six or eight pints and a few drams made his left eye squinty like a…

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The summer before her ninety-seventh birthday, Nana was living in a home off Burton Way. My aunt Denise called it “The House of Death” with morbid sarcasm, and I agreed. This move to her final home occurred after she tripped on another one of her area rugs and fell. Those innocuous flopsy things she liked to decorate with were quite hazardous.

Nana snagged her foot under a four-by-five faux Turkish rug by her bedside and took a spill. It landed her in the hospital with a broken hip. After that, she had to move out of Barrington Place, her last…

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1987. It was there hidden in the darkness I felt invisible. My grandmother’s car pulled up in the driveway. I yanked the window blinds and hid inside the closet. Buried within the fabric of dresses and blouses, I sank, curled into a fetal position among my shoes. My heart wound up; a mainspring setting off alarms through my veins with a raucous torque.

It had been two hours since I ditched class and went off with my boyfriend to get high in the backseat of his beater Chevy Impala at the usual spot by the golf course. My ears thudded…

My DNA test revealed a family secret and solved an existential puzzle

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Everything I thought I knew about my life spiraled into a double helix. I stood for some time in the bathroom staring in the mirror, examining every detail of my arms, hands, and face. I attempted to see some semblance of my mother’s likeness reflected back, or something of my father’s. I thought of how invisible ink markers reveal the outline of a face when traced over in magic coloring books. …

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In June of 2018, I did genetic testing with my doctor using 23andMe. Though the test was an optional part of my physical, I thought it was a good idea to get a thorough medical exam.

I considered the well being of my children because, as a single mother, you think that way. I didn’t have a husband, I’m self-employed, I’d recently lost a few family members to illness, and I had turned forty-eight years old. As I spit into the tube, I knew it would shed some light on my health and longevity.

There had already been some dark…

It probably took a few months to disassemble the house on Shannon Road. There were the bedrooms I knew as my mother’s and aunts’ bedrooms since they were little girls and my grandparents’ bedroom with the stained glass window. There was the breakfast room off the patio with the round table where I’d spend hours drawing. There was the parlor room with the billard table and the upright Story & Clark piano, next to the large window looking out at the manicured expanse of grass in the backyard framed by a bramble of shrubs and birch trees. There was the…

At some point between my sixth-grade graduation and my grandparents’ divorce, our family had fallen apart. Before the big move from Los Angeles, there was an epic family vacation in Cape Cod, where my grandfather rented a large beach house with a deck that led to the sand. It was a two-story classic New England style cottage with windows overlooking Hyannis Harbor, spacious enough to fit us all.

We were celebrating my Aunt Denise’s wedding in Manhattan, and afterwards caravanned over to Cape Cod, where we spent an entire luxurious month on the beach in Hyannis Port.

I can still…

Searching for mom’s Sicilian side of the family isn’t as easy as pizza pie

La mia famiglia: The di Francesco-Palmeri family

Last year, my genetic test results through 23andMe and Ancestry led me to discover that I was adopted at birth. My personal search for identity within my new family tree begins this series of essays.

I’ve learned so much about ‘la mia famiglia’ and this is what I know so far: Sicilians practice an age-old system of naming a child after their maternal and paternal grandparents in a definite order.

In Sicily, a specific baby-naming order is used to preserve the family legacy.

It goes something…

It’s sort of like a Fyre Fest of female hormones.

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Menopause showed up like an evil witch toting her magic spell — not in the form of a poison apple, but a big goblet of Chianti instead. Poof, just in time for my 40th birthday, I went from easy-to-get-pregnant princess to non-ovulating ogress. Much like Fiona in Shrek, I missed the twenty-four hour window to shape shift back to my former self, and woke up like this instead. Yep, I stayed an ogress.

I didn’t miss my period really (I mean, who would), but it was odd not to have it, and also not be pregnant. It just didn’t happen…

Stephanie Dianne Kordan

Writer, mother, artist, podcast host, wordsmith. My personal essays about my DNA results and adoption are working drafts for publication.

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