Mailing away spit. Or will DNA change the way I keep house?

My gag reflex has flourished with age.

I almost threw up collecting my spit in a tube.


The empty tube I spit into.


Collecting spit triggers vomit?


Especially for a former tomboy who could transform a smidgen of dry bread coupled with a drop of spit into an siren’s call for an unsuspecting brim.

Why was I spitting into a tube?

Let me back up.

Our two youngest are ours by adoption. An amazing, incredibly complicated journey for the adoptive parents, it’s even more so for the adoptee. Who never really had a say in the whole thing in the first place.

When we received our babies years ago, I didn’t know anything about how adoption might affect the baby through child, teen or adult years — but I’ve become quite the expert by book knowledge and experience.

One thing is clear. Though those of us raised by birth parents have our issues, we also take things for granted.

Such as how both my children admitted extreme anxiety when faced with the standard elementary school introduction into genetics.

Questions like — What color are your parents’ eyes? Is your parents’ hair curly, straight? Blonde or brunette? — led one child to stare at the blank page asking how do I know? And that child became more distressed when the unknowing teacher innocently marked the paper incomplete.

How can I answer questions I don’t know the answer to? 

Finding and communicating with birth parents is a private family issue and one we discuss openly with our children — but as this past Christmas rolled around, I thought of another more general way for them find out more about their genetic roots.

Back to why I spit into a tube.

I ordered everyone in the family a DNA ancestry kit for Christmas. I researched the most popular companies and ultimately went with the one that had a $10 off Black Friday sale.


Now it’s obvious why my children would find tracing their ethic past fascinating. But why would I?

A lot of my ancestry has been researched and passed down.

A paternal great aunt traced my father’s family to the Minorcans from the Spanish isle of Minorca. In 1767 a Scottish physician, Dr. Turnbull, sailed to Minorca to find a labor force to build his settlement — New Smyrna Beach, Florida. My ancestors left their beautiful island in the Mediterranean to provide something close to slave labor for Turnbull’s New World venture. When my ancestors became sick of their indentured servitude to Turnbull, they slipped away to the beach and walked north to join the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine.

My mother has traced her family back to the Mayflower. I’m genetically connected to two of those smartly dressed Pilgrim passengers.

British Puritans and Spanish. Or that’s what I’ve always thought based on family members who have researched.

But what about my paternal grandmother whose maiden name was Camp? Seems Camp can be traced all over the place  . . . British, French, Dutch even way back from the Old Germanic Kemp.

What if all the while I’ve secretly attributed my scattered undisciplined creativity to my warm weather, Mediterranean genetics and it turns out my DNA is over 50 percent Germanic? Old Germanic at that.

How will I now excuse an unmade bed at 11:30 in the morning?

The other day I placed my tube in the pouch and mailed it off.


I’ll share my results in a few months.

So Adios for now.

Got to go wash the baseboards and dust the root cellar.

Have you researched your genealogy?


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4 responses to “Mailing away spit. Or will DNA change the way I keep house?”

  1. Michelle T says:

    While visiting Ellis Island in 2003, I was able to find the manifests of the boats that my dad’s parents came over on, as well as my mom’s father. Interesting reading, especially description of my 17 yr old grandfather. My maternal grandmother was born here, but a cousin has found the manifest of my great-grandparents. They all came to America from different parts of Italy, still struggling with the concept of unification, to all become Americans. I represent the successful ultimate unification!

    • Jamie Miles says:

      No wonder you are such a good cook. (at least your Italian cookies that you blog about.) I hope you write this down. Other than just a comment my blog. 😉 Have you ever thought about going to Italy and finding all the small towns where your family members lived? Maybe an Italian Wine and Food Tour of My Ancestors. Sounds wonderful.

  2. Trish Jones says:

    Too funny – Rob just mailed his spit away last month. I did mine last year. My 28% irish explains my son’s red hair. We are also Mayflower (my side) and Pocohantas (rob’s) decendents – am wondering how to get a scholarship for the kids through that? No luck, so far. Did not find the indian we thought we would. I uploaded everything to Ancestry and to gedcom (free). The gedcom site has a button at the bottom “find out if your parents are related, press here.” That was scary. I was clear but worry about my kids clicking that button?lol! The gedcom site gave me a close relative I didn’t recognize, so I contacted her. She lives in Colorado and emailed me pictures of my great-grandparents, wedding photo that I had never seen! She was actually the daughter of my grandmother’s cousin. Too cool. I am thankful for the photos she sent. As my girls say, “Long story long.” Let me know your gedcom number when you get it and we can run them against each other. I’ll bet we are related since your mother and my mother are from the same area – and I can’t keep my house clean.

    • Jamie Miles says:

      Well, all us neighbors might be related. Our joint new neighbor is a Whitley and he said he was related to the Whitleys in the area. When mom was going her research she found out she was related to some Whitleys around here. I can see the Irish in you and Caroline. My maiden name is Collins so I’m wondering if there might be a little Irish in me too. Very cool about connecting with the close relative. I’ve seen photos of one of my great grandfather’s grave on I had never even heard his first name and someone posted a photo of his grave. That has to be some sort of relative to me. I remember the tree Emily brought to the elementary science fair that showed her Pocahontas tree. I’d love to see that again.



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