Last week, I was interviewed by Theral Timpson for the Mendelspod podcast episode called “Family Surprises Care of the DNA Test.”
One by one, women have begun to reach out to me. They describe a similar scenario.
Their husbands were unaware they had fathered a child in the past (typically, it's a daughter).
That child is now an adult.
Consumer DNA testing helped reunite the adult child with their father.
These situations involve a lot of emotions for everyone, including the adult child, the father, his wife/significant other, and other children in the family.
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.
I recently spoke with Brian Hickey who writes for PhillyVoice. In this piece which covers the topic of support after unexpected DNA discoveries, I shared my thoughts on the topic and touched briefly on the role grief and support play in these experiences.
You can find the article HERE.
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.
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?
I had someone reach out to me a few months ago who was adopted and had reunited with his birth mom before she died after she sought him out. He never had interest in seeking out and reuniting with his birth father but accidentally matched to his (now deceased) bio father's family (an entire set of half-siblings) when doing an ancestry DNA test.
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.