Genealogy DNA Surprises: How To Deal With Unexpected Results

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Genealogy DNA surprises can threaten the foundation you have clinched on your entire life.

With the rapid increase in DNA testing companies, easier testing techniques, and online family tree websites, matching your samples and uncovering your heritage has never been more straightforward.

You can also scrutinize existing family trees and scientifically identify Non-Paternal Event (NPE) and Misattributed Parentage (MPE) cases.

These unexpected revelations may take a significant emotional toll, but it is the norm with genealogy. So, whether you have been dealing with this surprise for some time or are just starting to navigate your genetics, here’s a comprehensive guide on handling the situation.

Key Takeaways

  • The most common surprise case in genealogy is discovering that you’re not the biological child or parent.
  • Most cases happen due to adoption, undisclosed affairs, and historical events like migration.
  • While DNA surprises can be heart-wrenching, they may have a silver lining.

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What Are the Common Cases in DNA Surprises?

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DNA Surprise

The two most common cases are Misattributed Parentage Event (MPE) and Non-Paternal Event (NPE).

In MPE, your DNA results show a different genetic formation from your parents, proving that they may not be your biological parents as initially believed.

Another facet is the NPE, where DNA results from the person assumed to be the father of a child show that he is not.

Making any of these discoveries has the power to test family narratives and lead to feelings of betrayal and confusion. The traditions you’ve cherished, the stories you’ve heard, and the bonds you’ve created can be put into question.

Nonetheless, the same surprises could help discover a whole new set of family lines.

What’s The Probability of DNA Surprises?

Understanding the probability of DNA surprises is crucial in making sense of your test results. Below are some of the common reasons the surprises occur.

  • Undisclosed Affair: If an undisclosed extramarital affair resulted in a child, the assumed parents may not be the biological parents. Such situations are contributed to by societal stigmas and family secrecy.
  • Adoption: When adoption information is not adequately shared, it leads to a gray area about your biological parentage. Besides, the varying transparency levels in historical adoptions have proved challenging for adopted children to trace their roots accurately.
  • Historical Events: Information about families separated by historical events such as forced displacement or migration can fade over time, leading to surprises. Therefore, you should research the historical context, including the cultural beliefs and legal regulations that could have influenced record-keeping practices and family dynamics.

Understanding the context can help you appreciate your surprising DNA results and develop the will to embrace surprises throughout your genealogy journey.

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How To Cope with Genealogy Surprises

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DNA Test for Genealogy

It’s normal to develop a range of feelings when confronted with a shocking DNA result slip. Such results can prompt an identity crisis, wondering about your origin and feeling anger and resentment toward people who may have kept the secret from you.

Here are five ways to manage the emotional roller coaster.

  1. Take Your Time: Processing the shocking DNA information may be an emotional journey that requires processing time. So, give yourself time to experience the entire cycle of emotions without being judgmental.
  2. Seek Help: Find time to talk to a therapist or seek emotional support from friends who may’ve had a similar experience.
  3. Improve Your Well-Being: Focus on self-care activities such as exercise, journaling, and meditation to help the body process the stress.
  4. Learn About DNA: Educate yourself about DNA testing and its mechanism to quickly demystify the process and better understand your results.
  5. Review Your Family Tree: Consider reviewing your family tree, using the surprise to update the existing narratives and enrich your understanding of family history.

Advantages Of Seeking Professional Help From A Genealogist

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Hire a Genealogist

A professional genealogist will not only help you understand the results but can come in handy when you want to understand your genealogy better. Here are the reasons why a genealogist can be a game-changer.

  1. Experience: Genealogists understand the emotional toll and confusion that come with DNA surprises, so they’re better placed to offer the breakthrough.
  2. Expertise in DNA Analysis: Genealogists are skilled in analyzing complex DNA results and can help interpret the data and make sense of your genetic heritage.
  3. Access to Resources: Professional genealogists have special access to databases and archives unavailable to the public. Therefore, they can easily find relevant records and help trace your lineage accurately and quickly.
  4. Objective Perceptive: Unlike relatives or friends who may have interests in your genealogy, genealogists analyze your data with an objective lens, which is essential, especially when dealing with sensitive dynamics.

How To Move On After A genealogy Surprise

The best way to navigate these surprises is to reconcile the results with existing family narratives. Here’s how;

  • Be Open-Minded: Be ready for further surprises, including adjustments to the family narrative.
  • Gather Information: Collect additional information about your genealogy, including your close DNA matches.
  • Communicate: Engage in open conversations with relatives about your desire to explore your family history; they may offer stories and insights on your research.
  • Professional Intervention: Involve a therapist or counselor, especially when emotions run high. Similarly, seek help from a professional genealogist to untangle your ancestry.
  • Be ethical: Understand the surprise’s impact on other family members, so approach them cautiously, respect their boundaries, and let them synthesize the information at their own pace.
  • Document the Journey: Create a family tree or keep a journal to show your genealogy journey and help future generations follow through with the family history. A lasting record that includes the surprises can also help you process your emotions.

Focus on The Positive Side of DNA Surprises

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DNA Surprises can be blessings in disguise

While the surprises can threaten your family history and take a significant emotional toll, they can also positively impact your genealogy. How, you ask?

  1. Identifying Your Family: Unexpected results can trigger the interest to trace the newfound identity and meet new relatives with unique stories, insights, and experiences.
  2. Expanding Your Family Tree: DNA surprises can help incorporate new cultures and ethnicities into your heritage and enrich your sense of belonging and identity.

Best Websites and Databases for Online Genealogy

It Could Be the Tip of the Iceberg

Genealogy DNA testing can present unexpected twists and turns that challenge the beliefs you’ve held dear. This guide helps you manage the situation through strategies to reconcile with reality.

One of the most important steps is to consult a counselor or therapist for emotional support. Besides, a professional genealogist will help you understand the DNA results and plan the best way forward.

RecordClick offers free consultation for all your genealogy inquiries with a team of experts ready to help you establish your heritage.