The End of Secrets, or More Confusion?

As someone with an interest in genealogy, I enjoyed this article about one woman’s confusing results from her DNA test, and then her several-year quest to solve the mystery. Who Was She?

In short, she received ethnicity reports that differed from what she was told all her life, discovered her paternal aunt and uncle, and thus cousins, were not related to her at all, and then discovered her father was switched at birth in 1913. Her Jewish father was raised Irish Catholic. The Irish biological son of her “non-grandparents” was raised Jewish by people who turned out to be her father’s biological parents. It led to some confusion, but also led to meeting new family members with whom she connected.

One of these services, 23 and Me, does warn that “unexpected relationships may be identified that could affect you and your family.” With all this new information, the article also states that “the 2020s may turn out to be the decade that killed family secrets, for better and for worse.”

Personally, I think it’s for the better, because everyone should have access to the truth. My personal DNA results did not provide any major revelations, but it did contain some ethnic results I did not know about, and I found that fascinating. Because of that I pushed the Husband to also find out his roots. As this article mentions, the self-seekers are open to finding results, but those who have it thrust upon them, might not be happy about it. That was the case when the Husband received his results.

There was nothing as dramatic like the woman in this story — no revelations about paternity that he didn’t know about, but he was taken aback by the breakdown of his ethnicity. His biological father, who was not a part of his life growing up, had told his mother that he was anywhere from 25% to 50% Native American — Chickasaw, to be precise. His mom told him that at a very young age, and he took great pride in that. He studied Native American history, philosophy, and culture. He chose Native American art, and he most identified with that part of his background. The results came back that he was not Native American at all. Zero percent. He was very disturbed by that, and felt a part of his identify was robbed from him.

He has since reconciled with the facts. From my perspective, I question if these things really matter to who we really are? When our ancient homo sapien ancestors first developed in Africa 200,000 years ago, we were as we should be: one human race. Ethnicity really came about from migration patterns and evolution.

Do you think ethnicity matters in your own self-identity? Would you be negatively impacted to find out something surprising about your own ethnicity?

Again, the story I have linked above was about more than ethnicity, but a surprise finding about family history, which of course can upend someone’s viewpoint. But as the woman in the article, Alice noted, she does not regret finding out the truth. Because as the article states at the end, “it is the truth, after all.”

3 thoughts on “The End of Secrets, or More Confusion?

  1. Very interesting article Sharon. I’ve often wondered about myself, but am thinking it’s expensive to have done.

    1. Cousin Cookie, it’s not that expensive, relatively speaking. It depends on how important it is for you to find out this information. Most of them retail for about $99 but there are always sales and you can get them for $79, or sometimes even less. You just need to be patient. But some people could care less, so even $79 would be an extravagance better spent on something else. For me, it was important to have the data. We bought my mother-in-law a kit for mother’s day and she was thrilled with that. She’s at an age where she doesn’t need any more trinkets, and she was very intrigued — (drop this as a hint to your kids if you are interested)!

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