I’ve been hearing from more and more adoptees telling me that they have found close relatives and even birth parents by using DNA services like Ancestry or 23andme. It’s exciting and validating for them. And from a personal perspective, I can relate. In my previous blogs about the DNA Revolution, I mentioned I had done 23andme for fun, and then did Ancestry DNA and My Heritage to do a comparison. After having more time to process using all three services, what I have noticed is that more relatives in the Midwest are showing up on Ancestry, and more east/west coast and international relatives are showing up on the other two. Keep in mind, 23andme’s privacy statement warns: “You may discover things about yourself and/or your family members that may be upsetting or cause anxiety and that you may not have the ability to control or change.” I did not expect any surprises, as I had already been reunited with my birth mother three decades ago. But boy, did I get a surprise!
At the end of June, I received an email that a relative had messaged me through Ancestry, wondering who I was. I responded that I was adopted. When I went to my Ancestry app to see who she was, turns out she was a first cousin, and not on my birth mother’s side. Based on other relatives in common, that left me with one conclusion – her uncle was my biological father. After a few phone calls, her uncle’s daughter (who turned out to be my half sister) decided to do Ancestry DNA as well, since her father and my birth mother had been friends for most of their lives. And within six weeks, there I was, having a beautiful reunion with a father and family who never knew I existed. I’m keenly aware of just how lucky and blessed I am because this could have turned out quite differently, but I’ve also been made keenly aware that with DNA there WILL be surprises!
More people took genetic ancestry tests in 2017 than in all previous years combined. As of February of 2019, over 26 million people globally have sent in their spit. That gives a lot of opportunities for a lot of surprises. Law enforcement has been able to use DNA to solve cold cases. There is talk about the US needing new genetic privacy laws. Right now, even if you opt out of all genetic testing, that does not prevent your siblings or cousin from putting their DNA out there and thus yours because DNA ties families together. I have a feeling it will just be a matter of time before someone will want to put a stop to anyone’s ability to discover their “surprise.” Until then, I think many more adoptees and birth families are going to use this tool because it’s helping them find each other. I’m grateful that my birth father viewed me has a happy surprise!
For more information on Adoption or Pregnancy Counseling, please contact LSS at 605-221-2346 or 888-201-5061.
Submitted by Joyce Twite, Adoption Program Admin. Support Specialist/ Pregnancy Counselor
LSS Adoption & Pregnancy Counseling
621 E Presentation St |Sioux Falls SD 57104
605-221-2346 or 888-201-5061
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