I found out 5 years ago that I’m Irish! Prior to that, I had no clue what my ancestry was. Well, maybe some subtle clues: I’m pale, I have green eyes, I’m friendly and optimistic, I’m obsessed with the weather, and I can’t take a compliment easily. But, I didn’t use a DNA service to discover my lucky heritage; my birth family found me. You see, I was born in Quebec and given up for adoption. Quebec is one of the few provinces in Canada whose adoption records are closed. In 1984, families could begin the registration process for government sanctioned searches; there are thousands of applications and the searches are often fruitless or they can take years. It is estimated that 300,000 adoptions took place in Quebec prior to the 1984 change in provincial legislation.
I was one of the lucky ones! Lucky that my family initiated the search, because I had no information of the details of my birth or my birth family (this is what a closed adoption means). There is no central registry in the province, so adoptees would need to know the agency that handled their adoption; there are many. I am lucky that my birth family found me, lucky that my mom and dad who raised me were the best parents a person could ask for, and lucky that I grew up with my adopted brother Michael. We always knew that we were adopted, because our mom and dad told us how lucky they were to have us 🙂
When a social worker named Carol Barrs called from Batshaw Youth and Family Centre in Montreal 5 years ago, I was completely blown away! I had thought of my birth mother a lot over the years, especially on Mother’s Day, on my birthday, and on the births of my children. Oddly, I rarely considered my birth father, so when the social worker told me that my parents married a year after I was born and that I had two sisters and two brothers, and a grandmother, and that they were all worried about me, loved me, and missed me, I could not believe my luck! And then, when Carol told me the names of my grandmother, parents and siblings, I knew that I had won the ancestral lottery: Granny Mary, Patrick (Paddy), Catherine, Linda, Patrick Jr., Tim, and Shannon. I am Irish. I always wanted to be Irish, especially on St. Paddy’s!
Granny Mary will be 90 years old next month; she is so strong, and smart, and cool, and I am so lucky to have a relationship with her. My parent’s search to find me was expedited by Batshaw when my father was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I am extremely lucky that I had 2 years to get to know Paddy. He was hard-working, witty, loving, and proudly Irish. Did you know that when someone says “Top of the morning to you,” the correct response is, “and the rest of the day to yourself” Paddy taught me that💚
So, it’s official. I’m Irish and I am so proud, and so lucky, and so are my children. The Luck of the Irish originated during the gold rush when successful miners were typically Irish. I think their ‘luck’ came from tenacity, stubbornness, hard-work, and dedication to their families. The term was derisive to begin with because the Irish were known to be fun-loving, but it has evolved to encompass a day when people from all cultures want to be Irish.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day☘️