A great-great-great uncle of my dad's signed the Declaration of Independence. There's even a little placard with his portrait and name on it embedded in the sidewalk of the historical district in Philadelphia. My great aunt Ruth, who lived to be 103, traveled the world when she was 22 in 1919, and was generally a super cool woman and a role model for me, was the family's heritage-keeper. That is to say, she kept records of the family's geneaology, photographs, accomplishments, etc.
I have always found this family's history very interesting, but also felt conflicted about it since it is the geneaology of my adoptive father's family, not my blood relations'. I have always felt uneasy about claiming his heritage because I was unsure I was entitled to it-- so much of the pride (and shame) of heritage in our society is based upon blood kinship, not adoptive kinship.
One day when I was in high school, I was called out of class by the guidance counselor to take a special test administered exclusively to descendants of the DAR to determine eligibility for a college scholarship. I had to ask the counselor what the DAR was, and when she told me it was the Daughters of the American Revolution, I remembered the great-great-great uncle, and figured it had something to do with him. Even then, when I was only 16 and had no idea what the DAR was all about, I had an inkling that I didn't technically qualify to even take this test, much less to receive the scholarship.
I didn't do well on the test, so I didn't advance to the next level of competition for the scholarship, but as it turns out, I wouldn't have been eligible for it anyway, as membership in the DAR is, as I suspected, based upon bloodlines.
Which brings me to the question I have been pondering: whose heritage do I claim? Do I claim the Scottish and Finnish ancestors I've heard about all my life from my adoptive parents, or do I claim the Norwegian and Swiss ancestors I've recently learned about from my newly found birthparents? Neither feels completely mine, yet I don't wish to eschew either of them because they both feel familiar and true. Who are my ancestors?
As adoptees, how do we reconcile our dual heritage?