In the Base Pair series, we get a chance to learn about genetics professionals (genetic counselors and geneticists) who have partnered up to pursue a project together. I ask them to share a bit of the back-story, how they came to be partnered with their buddy. Origin stories like these can be so powerful because they open our eyes to new and different opportunities. When we see how the paths of others have crossed, it helps us look at the people in our lives in a different way as well.
Today we’re lucky enough to share a post entitled “Objects may appear closer than they are…” written in 2013 by a woman named Maggy. We’ve heard from others who discover they are NPEs (not the parent expected) in our #DNASurprise series of guest blog posts, but what happens when this discovery comes later in life? After you’ve spent five decades thinking you know the ins and outs of your family tree?
When Maggy was 54 years old, she discovered that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was. Throughout the ups and downs of her discovery, Maggy has shared insightful blog posts – cathartic not only for her but also providing valuable insight to others going through similar experiences. Throughout her post, we see the theme of identity, and how DNA surprises can impact a person’s sense of self and belonging.
YOU RECENTLY DISCOVERED A HALF-SIBLING. DID THIS SURPRISE COME OUT OF THE BLUE?
Jessica: I was not surprised to find out about a half-sibling as my dad was single after my mother and him divorced when I was five and did not re-marry until I was 10. He dated frequently during that time, from what I remember. My older sister made the discovery when she submitted her DNA first and found a “close relative” match but did not understand the implications until later.
Recently my sister asked my dad if he would be interested in taking a DNA test for genealogy purposes at which time he admitted he had another daughter. He figured it would come out if he ended up going through with the DNA test.
The recorded re-telling of a painful and emotional experience of uncovering a DNA surprise is helpful for others to read. It supports and validates others who are going through the same thing, and it provides insight for the friends, family, and professionals who will be there alongside a person on their journey following the unexpected discovery.
An important point that my next guest blogger, Christa, makes is that receiving the truth from her mother rather than denial held so much value to her. She was so grateful that her mom ‘came clean’ straight away when she came to her with the discovery that the father she had grown up believing was her biological father was not.
Many of us take medications to stay healthy and treat conditions such as depression and cardiovascular disease. However, some people respond differently to some medicines, and part of that difference is due to our genetic makeup. Genetic tests that identify and characterize these variations are available, and you may be wondering if those tests are a good idea for you. Here are some points to consider:
TThe uncovering of one DNA surprise can sometimes have a domino effect in a family. It is understandable how words like “unraveling” are used to describe situations like this, when multiple tightly-held secrets suddenly all become known in short order, and how panicked fingers begin to point and deflect blame. In the case of James and his family, the discovery that the father who raised James wasn’t his biological father led to the same discovery for his three siblings as well.
James shares with us the painful details of his mother’s misplaced blame on him after the secrets of his and his siblings’ misattributed paternity came to light. He writes about how he has been able to cope and move forward in the year since he made his own unexpected paternity discovery.
THE STORY OF JUDEY AND GINNA: GINNA’S SIDE OF THE STORY:
Fishing has been something I’ve done nearly my whole life. It was a family affair; we’d pile in the boat and enjoy the relaxation and fun together. My dad and brother taught me to fish when I was three, and it is something I never stopped doing once I learned. Fishing is in my blood.
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?
WHAT IS NPE? BY STEVEN KING
A Non- Paternity Event (“NPE”) was originally the term used to explain the break in the paternal line for a male. In genetics and genealogy, the term signified that a person’s attributed father was not their biological father and that the family surname did not match the bloodline. Someone was presumed to be an individual’s father by the individual, the parents, their family or the healthcare practitioner involved. Today, the term is used more broadly to describe a break in the family line; for males or females with a misattributed father or mother. The acronym “NPE” is also used to describe individuals who learned they were conceived as a result of the event. Some also use the acronym to mean “Not Parent Expected.”
I came to know Michelle and Eden when they joined the first secret support group I set up for people receiving DNA surprises for themselves or for someone’s DNA account they manage.
I asked the two of them to respond separately to some questions I had. The responses shed light to us as readers on how the same “DNA Surprise” event can be experienced differently.
You can read their detailed responses in the post here.