Picture Credit: qimono from Pixabay
Why Do People Take DNA Tests?
There are a multitude of reasons why people choose to do a DNA test to trace family. Some of these could be:
- Unknown biological family –assisted fertility or family separation
- Severed family histories: slavery/war/deaths in family
- Family mysteries or secrets – children from affairs, underage pregnancies
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- Family migration
- General Interest
- Want to teach children about their roots
- To understand more about genetic health
These are just some of the reasons why over 26 million of us have taken an at-home DNA test and enabled people to find family and write whole new chapters in their life’s history. Here are just 5 examples of DNA testing bringing families together.
1) Dennis Blackstone was adopted at age 3 along with his twin brother. The boys grew up knowing that they had been adopted and that they had an older sister. Although Dennis was interested in his biological family it was only when his twin brother died suddenly in 1979 and he was suddenly bereft of any blood kin that he seriously began to look into his family past. However, he did not have much luck that is, until he found a DNA match, a potential first cousin, via an ancestral DNA site. This cousin led Dennis to his long-lost sister Connie as well as two other half-sisters that he didn’t know about. Oddly, Dennis and Connie had been living only 40 miles apart, a fact that a spokeswoman for the DNA testing site that brought them together says is not uncommon; ‘we hear of adoptees discovering biological family members that grew up within miles of them…frequently’.
Picture Credit: Public Domain Pictures from Pixabay
2) The atrocities of the Second World War and a family torn apart at Auschwitz forms the basis for this second story of families reunited by DNA testing. 2-year-old Eva was a prisoner at Auschwitz with her mother Dora. The two were separated triggering a lifetime of heartbreak for Dora as she tried, with no success, to find her little daughter until her dying day. Dora went on to have two more daughters and, as a final wish, asked them to continue the search for Dora. They agreed and finally this year, after completing an ancestral DNA test they found a familial match in the UK. This match turned out to be Eva’s daughter. Sadly, both Dora and Eva had passed away before the magic of DNA testing had reconnected this family torn apart by the horrors of the Holocaust. However, Dora’s sisters and their newfound niece have found comfort in finding each other and look forward to being able to meet in person as soon as possible.
3) For Michael Montlack and his twin sister Michelle, it was not people that they were looking for when they took a DNA test but more of an idea about their roots, where their heritage might lie. Adopted at birth Michael and Michelle had grown up feeling ‘wanted’ and ‘chosen’ by their loving, adoptive parents and so didn’t feel the need to trace their biological family. However, once they had done the DNA test they found close familial matches; a cousin who, after chatting with his own mother, was able to tell Michael and Michelle that they were her ‘cousin Kathy’s secret’. While this information was still sinking in the DNA service sent Michael another message – an even closer relative had been found. This time, it was a sister. As Michael looked at her photos on social media, located with the help of his newfound ‘lineage nerd’ cousin he was struck by how similar they looked. This sister looked more like Michael than his own twin! This was not the only similarity. This sister also had a twin and both had similar interests, beliefs, preferences, and lifestyles to Michael and Michelle. He describes the finding of these unlooked-for siblings as a ‘magical bonus’.
Picture Credit: EliasSch from Pixabay
4) Another set of twins given up for adoption supplies this fourth example of families who found each other. In this case, the funny thing is that some of these sisters, there are four altogether, had mutual friends who had told them of a woman who looked so similar to them, with similar mannerisms as well that they ‘could be sisters’. After years of this and even years after two of these estranged sisters had actually met a family member took a DNA test and confirmed that all these 4 women had the same mother. In 2019, the four sisters finally met up for dinner and were all enchanted by their similarities; interests, family values, voices, and as one sister commented they were even ‘finishing each other’s sentences’.
5) This final example of families reuniting following DNA tests shows how this technology has the power to begin to heal past hurts and help people move on from the trauma of past atrocities. Aiyana Lakes took a DNA test to find out more about her ancestry the knowledge of which had been erased through slavery. The test matched her to a cousin, Jean Kapenda. Kapenda had already spent years researching his family history and had tracked down hundreds of relatives not only in the America’s; the descendants of slaves brought from Africa but also people in his ancestral land of The Congo. Through meeting her cousin Lakes has been able to place her ancestry with the Lunda tribe of The Congo and learn about their history, riches, and strengths. As she says this demonstrates that her history, the history of her family, and her people ‘doesn’t begin and end with slavery’.