support

To Birth Wives…there is growing support for you if you’re the wife of husbands in reunion with a daughter newly-found from DNA Testing

To Birth Wives…there is growing support for you if you’re the wife of husbands in reunion with a daughter newly-found from DNA Testing

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.

Recent coverage of DNA surprise support groups by major media outlets

Recent coverage of DNA surprise support groups by major media outlets

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.

Telling an adult or minor child they were donor-conceived if they haven't been told yet

Telling an adult or minor child they were donor-conceived if they haven't been told yet

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.

Brianne Kirkpatrick Quoted in PhillyVoice article on unexpected DNA surprises

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.

People who are discovering NPE are meeting up in-person for support and community

People who are discovering NPE are meeting up in-person for support and community

Guest Post by Rebekah Drumsta

Something magical is happening.  All across the world people are becoming friends, both online and at pre-arranged Meet and Greets.  They are making connections with others who’ve had an NPE (Not Parent Expected) event, just like them.

Starting a blog helped Stacey cope with her DNA Surprise

Starting a blog helped Stacey cope with her DNA Surprise

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?

GEDmatch & the Are Your Parents Related tool: What it means if you see a lot of blue

GEDmatch is a free website with tools that enable genealogists to use DNA and family trees to search for relatives. It has been in the news lately because it has recently been used to to identify criminal suspects. Tracing individuals based on their relatives DNA and family trees are only part of what GEDmatch allows DNA researchers to do. Other tools are available on GEDmatch, including one called "Are Your Parents Related?" (AYPR, for short). 

Support for spouses and significant others of those involved in a DNA surprise

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.”

An unwelcome DNA surprise for a devastated dad: "I just found out my wife was unfaithful and my kids aren't mine"

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.

Support group on Facebook for those who have gotten family surprises

The TV commercials about family member reunification enabled by DNA testing show the bright and sunny side of surprise family discoveries. Most - but not all - people eventually find the silver lining in a DNA surprise. For some, it can be a long, confusing, or difficult journey to get there.

For the better part of a year, I have run a Facebook group for individuals who discover an unexpected close relative through DNA testing - and for those who discover that a genetic relationship that is supposed to exist between two people does not. 

FBsupportgroup

The group is "secret" on Facebook, meaning that members have to be individually approved to be added to the group, and only those who are a part of the group can see who else is in it. No one in your Facebook network will see if you belong. It is a safe place for sharing stories, resources, and camaraderie with others who have been in the same boat.

Know someone who could benefit from this support group, or perhaps from a private consultation about their test results? Send them to this post and encourage them to reach out to me through www.watersheddna.com/contact. To join the support group, private message (PM) me through Facebook.

-Brianne 

 

Raw Data: What is it?

You know that phrase "No moss grows on a rolling stone"? I think the world of consumer genomics is best considered as the rolling stone that will never find an end.

Much has happened in the consumer genomics world in the past 8 months since I published a video on YouTube to explain "raw data" and its uses, benefits, and limitations.

It could use some updating, but the basic messages are unchanged: 

1) You can get more than you bargained for when you hunt through your raw data.

2) You might go through a period of confusion before you have a sense of clarity again.

3) You can contribute your information to research and help future generations.

4) No two people will have the same experiences or emotional reactions to downloading, uploading, and uncovering information from a raw data file.  

5) I am here as a resource.

Before you take your raw data out of your ancestry testing account, please consider stopping and watching this video: "DNA Raw Data: What is it?"

Reach out for a one-time consultation with me, before you make the download or after you've used a tool to sort through your raw data and have gotten back a report. I don't mind chasing a rolling stone with you! It makes for an interesting and enlightening journey, for sure.

Never stop doing the right thing: commentary on a resource for the community affected by incest and consanguinity

Never stop doing the right thing, especially when it comes to extending compassion, acceptance, and support to those affected by stigma. 

This lesson became crystal clear to me over the past week.

I recently posted a link on my social media outlets to an online article at TheRoot.com. I was asked by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to comment for the article on genetic risks associated with cousin marriage and childbearing. 

In my response, I clarified that although slightly increased, reproductive risks to offspring of cousin couples do not differ much from that of the general population.

As a rule, few people comment to me on individual posts that I put up on my social media.

This one was an exception.

I have been teased and mocked privately for my quote, for willingly commenting on such a topic, and for failing to express disgust and rejection of someone who would dare to date a cousin. 

The comments section of TheRoot.com article is even worse. It is filled with scathing comments from posters, some anonymous and some willing to place their name proudly next to hateful remarks.

This has to stop.

The shaming and the stigma surrounding incest and consanguinity hurts people. It hurts couples who feel confused and conflicted. It's often devastating to the children of these couples who find themselves surrounded in a culture that would treat them as less-than-human if the origin of their conception were widely known. 

I work individually with the offspring of couples who were family to one another. Many of these individuals are adoptees who never knew the circumstances of their origins until direct-to-consumer DNA testing became available.

The information was discovered incidentally, as a result of someone taking the raw DNA data from an ancestry test and running it through a type of DNA analysis tool that looks for a genetic feature called high runs of homozygosity (ROH).

The individuals whose DNA reveals their parents are related have been forced to grapple unexpectedly with what for some is extremely difficult information. Some have equated the emotional journey to that of intense and unanticipated grief, like that experienced when someone close to you dies unexpectedly. 

But when you lose a loved one, others offer you condolence and support.

Those who discover high ROH do not receive this support. 

They keep their secret, and they grieve in private. They do this out of necessity, not choice.

They are surrounded by a culture that mocks and judges them for something for which they had no control and for which they are not to blame. 

They are 100% human, like you and like me.

They matter to the world, no matter who was mom or dad. 

Yet they question it.

Luckily, the children of cousin couples and other closely-related parents have begun to find one another and have formed a secret online community. They share stories and support.

Because of their hard work to heal themselves and to help others -- and because of work of professionals outside of the group like CeCe Moore -- there are growing resources.

There now exists support where once was only a void.

The High ROH Infosheet was created for this growing community. 

It is the most often visited resource on my entire website.

I hope you will stop and read through it.

Even if it doesn't apply to you, please share it in your DNA testing circles.

You never know who might benefit from it.  

Tease me if you will for being willing to speak up and share a different perspective on this taboo topic. 

Just know that it won't ever stop me from providing accurate, judgment-free information in places where I think others might benefit.

Never stop doing the right thing, especially when it comes to extending compassion, acceptance, and support to those affected by stigma. 

This is a snippet from the High ROH Infosheet. Read it in full  here .    **Note: this blog post is not in reference to the story that went out recently about husband/wife twins. You can read about my thoughts on that topic separately,  here .

This is a snippet from the High ROH Infosheet. Read it in full here.

**Note: this blog post is not in reference to the story that went out recently about husband/wife twins. You can read about my thoughts on that topic separately, here.