With ancestry DNA tests becoming exceedingly popular in recent years, more and more people are becoming curious about their ethnic makeup. While some people’s results match with what they expected, many end up with a list of results that change their identities forever. If you haven’t done a test, these ancestry DNA result stories might either intrigue you towards or scare you away from getting a kit yourself.
1. The DNA test that ended in divorce
A stem cell and reproductive biologist, going by George Doe, told Vox about when he gave his parents a 23andMe DNA kit as a gift. He mainly intended to discover any health history the family should know about, but what he found was much more shocking. His ethnicity seemed to match what he expected, but he found something at the bottom of the page that read: “check this box if you want to see close family members in this search program”. He checked it, and found that he shared 22% of his genome with someone else in the database: a man named Thomas.
George asked his dad if he knew of any Thomas, and he said no. But when they checked his father’s “close family member” box, Thomas popped up, with a 50% genome match- meaning that George’s father was also Thomas’s father. The news of the secret son ended up dramatically affecting George’s family, with his parents getting divorced and nobody speaking to his father anymore. Though he says he doesn’t regret doing it, George does wish the 23andMe had a warning for what these results could entail: “I would want a warning saying, ‘Check this box and FYI: people discover their parents aren’t their parents, they have siblings they didn’t know about. If you check this box, these are the things you’ll find.’” In the wake of his family’s separation, George regrets not thinking of the test’s implications, saying he thought, “This wouldn’t happen to me”.
2. An adopted man’s revelation
Having been adopted as a baby, Matt Heninger constantly tried to find his family but always came up short. When he took an AncestryDNA test, he only intended to find out more about his ethnicity. His results weren’t particularly shocking, so Heninger didn’t check his portal again for months, when suddenly he had a message from a Joyce Burgener from Utah. She told him their DNA had matched as “close family/first cousins”.Patching the line together was proving difficult, as Heninger knew nearly nothing about his biological parents, when Burgener says “a vivid memory came into view”. She told Deseret News, “I heard a voice say, ‘It was your mother.’ I immediately knew who Matt Heninger was — he was my brother.”
When Burgener was 12, her mom had a baby, Heninger, out of wedlock. The family was living on welfare and she already had five children, so she decided to put him up for adoption and kept the details from the other kids. Their mother passed away in 1992, but the newfound half-siblings have budded a new relationship. “When someone is missing from your family, there is always that missing link, that blank spot,” Burgener said. “Having him in our lives now, we feel more peace, and it has given us another window of opportunity to extend our family and have someone else in our lives.”
3. Chassity’s unexpected reunion
Chassity, who is known on Twitter as Auntie Chass, had lived 31 years without knowing who her father is. Knowing little about that side of her family, Chassity became curious about her ancestry and decided to take a DNA test. While looking through the results, she noticed that one side of her family had a heavy european concentration, which surprised her, as her mother is Black and has always told her that her father was “deeply dark-skinned”. The European heritage was coming from her X chromosomes, so she began pressing her mother for more information about her father.After much argumentation, her mother finally told her the name of her father: a name Chassity had never heard before. This meant that multiple aspects of her identity had been based on a lie: her ethnic heritage, who her father was, and even the last name she had been using for 31 years.With the name she was given, Chassity was able to track her father down on Facebook and messaged him. She described her apprehension to Buzzfeed: “I didn’t know if he even knew about me or [would] even accept I could possibly be his child.” He then responded: “Wow I been looking for you forever.” Chassity’s fears were replaced by the excitement for a relationship with a father she never knew she had. She explained: “I never felt a feeling like this. A man that wants to be my father and there he is. My entire life he lived no further than 20 mins away from me… And he couldn’t find me because I have another man’s last name.”While some of these revelations broke families apart, others brought them together. The risk involved in learning about your ancestry could be greater than you’d think, so it’s important to prepare yourself for the implications of the test before you do it. Even if you’re disappointed in the outcome, at least you’re not this couple, whose ancestry tracing did not go as planned.