DNA Testing Reveals Surprise

The genetic genealogy business is growing. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday sold 1.5 million kits! Their database has grown to over 6 million including my sisters and soon me. My sisters have researched our family genealogy for several years so getting their DNA tested adds relevant information. So it came as a huge surprise when we discovered we have close relatives that we never knew existed.

In another part of the country a woman (let’s call her Beth) received information from indicating that my sisters and she are closely related.  Beth contacted my sisters seeking permission to view our family tree which they granted. Beth shared that her mother was 16 at the time she was born in our hometown. After some digging my sisters found that our father’s family and Beth’s mother’s family lived just a couple of blocks apart.

dna testAt this point Beth believes that we are first cousins. We speculate that an uncle on my father’s side may have been Beth’s father thus accounting for our relationship. Then Beth sent us a family photo and I’ll never forget my reaction: “she looks just like my father”. The strong resemblance to my father inspired more research by my sisters. They eventually found a chart that shows DNA relationship ranges.

  • Full siblings share 2300-3900 centimorgans or 32-54% shared DNA segments.
  • Half-siblings share 1300-2300 centimorgans or 18-32% shared DNA segments.
  • 1st cousins share 575-1300 centimorgans or 8-18.5%

My sisters share 2795 which falls within the full sibling range and they share 1797 with Beth which puts them in the half sibling range.

When they told me my first thought was: OMG! I have a half-sister. Now what?

Beth was born nearly 20 years before me. We’ve lived totally separate lives. I think it’s very different for me than it must be for Beth because she grew up thinking someone else is her biological father. I understand if Beth prefers not to know more. But if she asks, we’ll do our best to supply information in a tactful manner.

From my perspective, I admit to having a certain amount of curiosity about Beth. But not so much that I want to bug her to reveal her life story. If we do stay in touch maybe we’ll learn more over time but for now we feel that the ball is in her court. We’re happy to return serve or not.

How about you? Do you have a DNA discovery or know of one that you’d like to share? If so, please use the Comments field below.

2 thoughts on “DNA Testing Reveals Surprise

  1. I haven’t participated in DNA testing, and I don’t intend to. I’m just not curious to know if I have any long-lost relatives. I enjoy my life with the people who are in it now, by choice.

    I think the potential for unpleasant surprises is greater than the potential for pleasant ones. For example, I have an acquaintance who found out that he is a lot less Jewish than he thought he was. He has been introduced to entirely new branches of his family he didn’t know existed. While that’s interesting on one level, he has also been sucked into a lot more drama that he was probably better off without.

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