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Dec 10, 2019

My DNA Discoveries

by Melissa, Office Manager

In recent years home DNA tests have become widely available. We probably all know at least one person who has completed one. They have even made the news recently for their use in catching criminals in cold cases. 

My dad (a family history fanatic) gifted my siblings and me home DNA tests. You may be wondering logically why you would need a separate kit for each child, but for my family, it made perfect sense - my siblings and I were all adopted as babies via closed adoptions through different adoption agencies. The DNA test was a thoughtful way for us to discover what some of our genetic makeup could be. 

Once the test arrives, the process is straightforward. You provide a sample of your DNA (mine was through saliva), register your test, seal it up, and send it back to their lab. Then you wait (and wait, and wait) for about a month.

Finally, it arrived, and I was particularly excited to see if anything was surprising in the ancestry section. Sadly, mine came back as slightly less diverse than I was expecting.

The other part of the ancestry goes over your traits, your genetic similarities to Neanderthals and your possible health risks. I am happy to report that according to the test I am unlikely to have a unibrow. 

In addition to all of that information, there is a section for DNA relatives. It will show you all of the people that have taken the same test and based on shared DNA, how you are related. In my case, at the top of the list was a 1st cousin! Their system allows you to email and connect with your DNA relatives, so I sent a message to the individual asking if he had any information on my birth mother or father. I did have my original birth certificate, so I had my birth mother’s maiden name, but honestly, I didn’t think it would go very far. After a few days, I heard back from this cousin. He had contacted his aunt - who happened to be my birth mom, and she had agreed to connect with me. He gave me her phone number. I was able to reach out right away, and we began communicating. As it turns out, even though I was born in a different state, we both live in the same state now - just at opposite ends. We were able to set up a time to meet in the middle at her father’s house. To say I was nervous to meet my birth mother would be an understatement, but when she opened the door, I was face to face with someone that had the same face as me. I felt immediately calm. We spend the afternoon talking and getting to know each other, and I was able to hear her story of when I was born when she was just 16. 

After our meeting, she provided me with enough information to contact my birth father. He lives a few states away, but my husband and I were able to travel to meet him and his wife for dinner. Once again, it was very comfortable and easy to be around them both. 

Looking for similarities and getting to know these relatives has been a really fantastic experience for me. Growing up I always wondered about them, and I am happy to know who they are. Both nature and nurture have made me the person I am today, and I am blessed. I have the best of all of the worlds in my life. 

Two other RidgeCrest family members have also been able to find their birth parents through DNA testing. The ability of modern science to bring together families who would otherwise never be able to find each other is genuinely miraculous. 

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