Brianne's discussion with Theral of Mendelspod podcast on various DNA topics

Last week, I was interviewed by Theral Timpson for the Mendelspod podcast episode called “Family Surprises Care of the DNA Test.”

Follow the link HERE to listen!

Here’s how Mendelspod describes it:

You order a $99 home DNA test for some holiday pleasure. It’s a bit of fun. Right?

Until it turns your life upside down. Which is when you contact a professional.

Brianne Kirkpatrick is a genetic counselor and founder of Watershed DNA who has built up her own practice specializing in genealogy and ancestry testing. She has been helping those of us who found out our father was not our biological father. She’s been crisis counseling those of us who have just broken up with our half sibling. She’s been laughing with those of us who are deliberately looking for a DNA test that might help us find a different family than the one we have!

Is there any turning back from this onward rush to abandon genomic privacy? How will it change our culture? Brianne says it is certainly the new reality, and it will tilt power toward the younger generation.

Ever since we’ve been sequencing DNA, we’ve been readjusting our expectations of how deterministic it might be in our lives, often adjusting downwards. But as the recent wave of “family surprises” is showing, genealogy is one area where, for some, DNA is proving to be destiny.


Theral and I talked about various issues related to how consumer DNA tests, specifically the “family member matching” component to them, are creating a rapid culture shift.

Our points of discussion included “post-traumatic DNA disorder,” how I sometimes fill the role of crisis counselor for clients who are shocked by their DNA results, how everyone has a right to an accurate medical history, and how the power is tilting toward the individual to know their genetic origins rather than information about biological parentage remaining secretive or unknown.

These are really huge issues affecting people today, and I’m always careful when speaking with other people about these topics. I never know if it might be the first time they are learning about the end of family secrets, or if they might be struggling with a sensitive family issue like secret keeping.

Compassion is so critical with Big Conversations like this, when feelings and relationships are at play. It’s important we all try to attempt to understand the various perspectives involved and communicate clearly, and with kindness.

How do you feel about the new reality DNA testing is creating for the world? Has it or do you think it will affect you personally? Are there perspectives that you see are missing from these discussions? After listening to the podcast, please come back here and leave a comment below.

-Brianne