We have written a couple of times about the 23&Me phenomenon and the chance that those who enter this unknown world come back not just surprised but possibly creeped out by their quest for ancestral knowledge. USA Today published on this recently and cited a 2022 study by Baylor University of 23,000 people who “took the test” related to their parentage. That study was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics in 2022. It found that 3% learned that their parents were not entirely who they thought they were and 5% discovered unknown siblings or half siblings. Yes, your uncle or your mom’s OB/GYN could really be your dad and your cousins might turn out to be half-siblings. One woman discovered her mom’s employer was her dad and that while in high school the neighborhood kids she babysat are closer than she would have ever dreamed in a genetic sense.

Each time we delve into this topic it becomes apparent that the new data is kind of a bottomless pit of destructive opportunity. Let’s assume that curiosity captures you and you have the testing only to find that you get a surprise. Who do you tell and how will they react? Parents? Siblings (or perceived siblings)? As we noted, many of the “donors” never thought this technology would come along and if you are the wife of a 75 year old retired obstetrician, you and your husband would probably be content to know that the knock on the door is a delivery and not another anonymous visitor with parentage news. In small communities this kind of news can be infectious in bad ways and create enormous anxiety and animus.

Leeanne Hay has written a book: NPE: A Story Guide for Unexpected DNA Discoveries. The acronym stands for Non Parental Event.

There is also a non-profit to help people navigate this complex world called: Hiraeth Hope & Healing. https://www.hiraethhopeandhealing.com/

Suffice to say you need to be informed before diving into this deep and sometimes blue sea.