Mary McIntosh is a clinical social worker who provides therapeutic services for DNAngel clients who need extra support. As her family historian, she helped others with their genealogy for more than 40 years. “It was a hobby that turned into a passion when DNA testing became more widely available to the public,” she says. As a therapist, she’s worked with clients who are adopted as well those who are NPEs. She’s been a part of DNAngels for the last year, volunteering her skills at DNA mapping trees and therapeutic consulting. To further her expertise in this field, she’s enrolled in a doctoral program and describes her dissertation topic as “therapy and NPEs and all that comes with that journey.”
Finding out about DNA surprises, “often causes upheaval to one’s identity of self, confusion as to why and how it happened, reevaluation of family and sense of belonging, and arouses other emotions including joy, grief, and anxiety. Reactions from others are often unpredictable, and life just feels like someone pulled the rug out from under you.” McIntosh has seen firsthand the highs and lows that go with this journey, she says, noting, “This is where support, both formal and informal, is needed.” DNAngels, she says, are present to their clients through that initial stage until they’re better able to cope or are able to access local support.