If you are a parent of a child who was conceived with a donor egg or sperm and they do not yet know it, the time to be proactive is now. Consumer DNA tests like 23andMe and AncestryDNA are changing the way people discover their genetic origins, and this new reality has implications for many people, including those who have kept the secret of donor conception hidden from their children.
If you’re searching the web because your DNA test results have totally taken you aback, I am so sorry you are going through this. Ancestry tests work like paternity testing, in that they are able to detect whether or not you are matching to close biological family correctly or not. The results can be confusing, especially to someone not familiar with the way ancestry test results are displayed.
If your results just came back today and someone you are expecting to see in your match list isn’t there, first of all give it a few days - make sure the testing company’s system has had a chance to finish working through and matching you to their large database of other testers. Sometimes you just need a little more time for all your DNA matches to show up properly.
Blogging to Cope with My DNA Surprise: Stacey’s Story
A couple of weeks after my 41st birthday, my world as I knew it changed forever. It’s a story we’ve now all heard: a DNA sample submitted to an ancestry website revealed unexpected biological data. After asking my parents about it, they finally revealed that the man who raised me was not my biological father. I had so many questions - who was my biological father? Why did they lie? How could they keep it from me for so long? Who knew?
Megyn Kelly is a host on NBC who covers a lot of DNA topics on her weekday talk show, Megyn Kelly Today. Last week, she invited myself and a few other guests to talk about either personal or professional experiences related to DNA shocks or surprises. If you missed it, you can view the three segments below.
If you have come here as result of seeing the Megyn Kelly Today show segment on DNA shocks, welcome! I want to familiarize you with the Watershed DNA site so you can find the information you came here to look for.
Across the top of the screen (or along the right hand side, if you're on a smart phone), you will find the navigation bar. It may look like a series of three lines. If you click on it, a menu of tabs will appear.
I started a few secret support groups that were discussed here in an article by Sarah Zhang, writer for The Atlantic. I originally started these groups for a friend and some clients who expressed a desire for support and understanding from others who who had been in their shoes before. Since then, the groups have grown to include people who have heard about the group via word of mouth, past blog posts, and interviews I've given in which I've discussed them.
I've gotten some questions about how to approach an unexpected DNA match and try to open up the lines for communication. I've posted some draft language here for you to get a sense of what I've written or advised other people to write in the past.
It was a pleasure to speak with Scott Fisher of the Extreme Genes podcast! We discussed family DNA surprises that people are finding out about when they use at-home testing. Scott invited me on to talk about this as this is a subject close to him -- he once had to share the shocking news with a friend that her DNA results suggested the father who raised her was not her biological father.
Check out episode 249 to hear our discussion and understand more about how Watershed DNA came to be and how I help people who have gotten DNA surprises after an at-home test.
I received an email recently from someone searching for support. Her email read:
“I found out three years ago that my husband has an adult daughter. She contacted him and they began what I refer to as their “lovefest”. I searched and searched for information about this. There’s plenty of support for adoptees and birth parents, but none for other family members.”
I recently spoke with a gentleman who was shocked to find out at age 78 that his two adult children did not match him genetically. It was an unexpected finding that rocked his world and enraged not only himself but also his two children.
"We did not need this, we just did this 23andMe thing for fun," the man explained to me over the phone.
I came across this website and think it provides a great introduction to the different ancestry test options. This would be a great place to start if your main question is, "Which company should I choose to test with?" Check it out!
If you still have questions or want advice specific to your situation, consider scheduling a session with me to talk about your needs. I can direct you to the right test, whether for ancestry purposes or medical/health ones.