AncestryDNA Results Are In

by Stacey Jaros

Well well well, what have we here? A completely finished blog post, written in December 2017 and never shared. The only reason I can guess for not sharing this when written is that I was excitedly getting to know my new half-brother, J, who is the one match from Ancestry that responded to my message right away.

Did I ever get a few things wrong in this post. I had, honestly STILL have, so much to learn about genetic genealogy. I have discovered so many things since I initially wrote this post. Stay tuned for an annotated update, and the telling of this part of my journey so far.

Let's all hope it doesn't take me two and a half years for the next update.

December 11, 2017

Three years ago, through DNA testing on 23and Me. I found a half-sister, M. She has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. She, and her family, have embraced me, and my husband, in a fullness I never imagined was possible. I always wanted a sister. I went through life not-so-secretly admiring the relationships of sisters around me.

How different would my life, everything in my life, be if I chose to DNA test with Ancestry first rather than 23 and Me?

Some time in 2016 I realized the only people I would potentially match with were people who opted in to the same testing service. What if other individuals tested with other testing services? M and I could potentially find other genetic relatives by testing with another service. I had friends who tested with AncestryDNA so I thought I'd see what we might find.

I kept putting it off. I didn't prioritize it in time or cost. Finally I saw an ad for a sale price on some TV show so I ordered a kit at a discount price. I waited another few weeks before testing due to logistics. Finally I received the results and I was very surprised.

There are some of my mom's relatives. They're my 2nd and 3rd cousins. I know them. That didn't happen on 23 and Me. Oh. Huh. That's a first cousin I definitely don't know. I can see which relatives I have in common with that person. Nope, none of my maternal, known, relatives are common matches with her. Boy, Oh, that's THREE new half-siblings. Yup. That was a surprise. I'm not sure what I was expecting to find. Maybe some second cousins. Maybe even one half-sibling. But three was, surprise.

Immediately I had the same inclination when I found M. I knew reaching out could be a shock to the recipient. Nevertheless I knew if that match disappeared the next time I logged on I would always regret not reaching out.

There are no rules in this sort of thing. I realize finding out from a random stranger that one's parent is not a biological relation can be earth shaking. The only way to know why someone decided to test, and make their results public, is to add a note to one's bio, which it seems people seldom do. It may be selfish because I need to know but I reached out to the half-siblings.

I sent each of the three half-sibling matches an identical letter, modeled on the letter I sent to M. I've often referred to that as, "the hardest letter I've ever written." My letter to M was the first indication she ever had that her parents used a donor. In some ways I will always hold the guilt for rocking her family's reality so drastically. Over time I have come to see it as a blessing for her broader family. There is a freedom that comes with the end of the need for keeping secrets.

So as to not bury the lede, I will share right up front I have yet to receive any response from two of the half-siblings I reached out to on Ancestry.