One year ago today, I had the surreal experience of sitting on the stage of the Megyn Kelly NBC Today show to answer questions about my work with people who make DNA surprise discoveries after DNA testing. To call it memorable would be an understatement!
I recently received a message from someone who made an unexpected discovery of a new family member after doing DNA testing. The parents involved are all since deceased, and the person who wrote me had written to her match welcoming her to the family and then began to have regrets. Had she considered the other person’s reaction?
As more NPE discoveries are made, these types of questions grow more frequent. Ready my brief response to “Excited but Now Concerned” below.
When a new resource becomes available that I think will help my clients and the readers of my blog, I try to highlight them. This week I have three to share - one a website, one a book, and one a podcast.
Severance Magazine is a new resource for the growing group of individuals who learn they have been separated by biological relatives. You can read articles, news, connect with other resources, and share your own story through print and video. Those who will benefit included those who are adopted, donor conceived, NPE (“not the parent expected”), and the less-common situations of those who have been switched at birth, kidnapped, or abandoned as children.
I recently got this feedback on The DNA Guide for Adoptees from a reader:
“I learned a lot! Very informative and sensitive to so many things. I especially appreciated how tactfully written the high ROH chapter was (high ROH=when birth parents are related to each other). It’s a sensitive topic but was very tactfully done.
The reader continued on…
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.
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.
The news of just how many people receive surprises about their family matching from DNA tests is spreading.
As a genetic counselor and genealogy enthusiast, I saw this coming years ago (2014) when the first people began finding their way to me in search of support and information.
In anticipation of the growth, I’ve accumulated many resources and posted them freely on my website, I’ve posted the stories of those who have been through these experiences as guest blog posts, and started and administer secret support groups on Facebook.
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.