Exploring My Ancestry

#tedxcincinnativirtualcircle #tedxcincinnati #globalfamilytree #geneticenvironmentalimpact

I got a DNA kit for my birthday last month. I spent some change to get it but I have been wondering if I should really do it. I wanted to get the kit to explore my bio mother’s family. She was adopted in Maryland when she was 4 years old. She always expressed a desire to get to know her biological family. I could see and feel her pain, but I couldn’t ease her pain.

There is a beautiful twisted irony within my family tree. When I was 14, I went into foster care and never went home. My mom chose her husband over me. Her exact words, “Don’t make me choose because I will always choose him.”

Her abandonment when I needed her most, created a deep wound. I have spent a lot of time in therapy and support groups figuring how to love myself because I always felt so unloved. Looking back, it’s ironic that my mom allowed me to stay in foster care and become a ward of the court, when I knew that she always wanted to know who her biological family was but never found out.

After not communicating for ten years, I reconnected and introduced her to her grandson for the first time back in 2011. The moment was magical and just three years later, she died from brain cancer. I made peace and forgave my mom because I wanted her know that she was loved.

I realized she felt pain just like me. She never got to make peace with her biological family. She never identified them or found out why she was given up for adoption. This year, I decided that I wanted to honor my mom by exploring our roots. Her family gave her up just like she gave me up and I decided to keep my son when several close friends and family told me to give him up for adoption because I was going to be a single parent. I decided to be a mother. I chose my son. I chose love and to break the cycle.

So far, I haven’t taken the DNA test. I didn’t think this step would be holding me back. I keep asking myself, “Am I ready?” What happens if you don’t get the answers you want?” “What if I should just keep the past in the past?”

And….then tonight, I joined a virtual circle with the Cincinnati TEDx team.

TED Circles is an open platform of small groups that engage in conversations about ideas. Circles can take place 100% virtually so they are helping communities stay connected, especially now. Hosted by volunteers, Circles watch and discuss a TED Talk. They share takeaways online to consider each other’s perspectives and create a global conversation.


We watched a TEDx talk by AJ Jacobs and I was completely shocked to discover his talk was about our interconnectedness and our global family tree. And then he joined the conversation! The whole hour was surreal. I just kept thinking, “I better do the DNA test!!!!”



I did the DNA test and gave it to the mailman today. Now, we just wait, 6 – 8 weeks for the results. I plan on blogging about my journey. Very recently, I also connected with a woman through a Facebook group about genealogy and she encouraged me to start the process too. She told me that once I get my results, she would help me find my mother’s family!


I got my results! I visited the site an researched nearly 1,000 connections and found a cousin, Benjamin, possibly from my mother’s side of the family (he said that I was allowed to write about him). He was adopted, so we are both looking to discover our roots. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have been slightly obsessed, okay, I have been very obsessed and I’m excited to really begin this process! More updates to come!!!!!


I was looking at the tree for my bio mother’s adoptive family. I always describe my grandmom as a mother. She taught me so much about her faith, how to make a pie, how to keep a marriage strong, etc. She passed in 2002 and inherited all her photos. I have had her pictures in storage because I lived in NYC for eight years. These photos are so beautiful, including tons of black and white photos from the 40’s and 50’s. Because of Ancestry.com, I found my great- aunt’s daughter’s and grand-daughter’s on Facebook. I am going to send their pictures next week! I never expected to find them; I never knew their full names. I imagined they were married and had kids. The good news is that I found them!!!! I hope to develop a more meaningful connection and learn more about my grandma. I promise, more updates to come!!!!!

Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

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