The Holidays are coming. Thousands of people across the country will see those Ancestry DNA commercials about trading Kilts for Lederhosen, or Kelly Ripa being from the tip of the Boot, or finding their heritage… and decide that a DNA test would make a great gift for the whole family. They are not considering that the person they purchase that kit for has a 10-15% chance of finding an unpleasant surprise when they get their results. And while these DNA kits keep our organization flush with clients, I stand by my feelings (and these are mine and mine alone and not necessarily those of anyone else) that DNA TESTS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE HOLIDAY GIFTS. They are instead, tools that should be used with caution. Just like you wouldn’t use a chipper shredder without putting on safety goggles and gloves, if you take a DNA test, you need to be prepared for the results and not go merrily spitting into tubes without first considering the consequences.
For some of our clients, such as my dear friend Jeremiah, (*Not his real name, but he will know I am referring to him), the test was a means to an end. He never knew his father and decided that 40 years was long enough to wait. He went in, eyes and mouth wide open. The good news is that we found his father and some other really great family members.
I think everyone knows that I got my test for Valentine’s Day, and I am just as guilty as the next person because I did not think of the repercussions when I got the husbeast a test his for his birthday. Granted, there was never any doubt about his parentage, he is his father’s son. Since his father’s passing 2 years ago, I think that he is channeling the old man more and more each day, but that’s another story. There was not any doubt in MY mind about my parentage either, but I was so blissfully unaware of the things I did not know.
And now, I wish I could go back. Sometimes. But it would mean losing a whole community of people that I cherish. My Angel sisters, my clients whom I am close to, and the fabulous people I have met from the community. I cannot imagine my life without knowing people like Laura and Leeanne, they enrich me; and I’m excited about new collaborations that we are working on and watching how DNAngels is growing … but again, that is another story.
Valentine’s Day is a minor holiday, but the chain of events that started on V-Day 2016 has created a cascade effect that has led to several more “bad” Valentine’s Days since then. 2020 saw me in the hospital with heart problems, caused in part by the stress my discovery brought on. Had the husbeast’s test results gone awry, I would feel incredibly guilty. I asked him if he felt guilty for his role in my discovery, and he said “somewhat”. He’s a man of few words, just like his father. I’m rather glad it was Valentine’s Day rather than my birthday or Christmas. My birthday is difficult enough as I shared the day with my Dad, and the 8 years since he died it has been hard to celebrate and the 4 years since my NPE discovery It has been damn near impossible.
It’s not a gift that was given in anger or spite, it was done with the best intentions. But it’s also true that the road to hell is allegedly paved with good intentions. The law of consequences says that all actions have unanticipated effects. My boss would say, “no good deed goes unpunished.” And all of these things add up to my original platitude that DNA TESTS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE HOLIDAY GIFTS. A platitude, by definition, is a remark or statement with moral content. The moral here is… say it with me folks, “DNA TESTS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE HOLIDAY GIFTS.”
I’m starting to feel like Arlo Guthrie here, I want to say that when it comes around on the guitar again that we all need to sing it in 4-part harmony, with feeling… if you don’t get the reference, then you don’t listen to “Alice’s Restaurant” every Thanksgiving whether your need to or not, but again, another story.
Again, these are only MY feelings. I’m rather relieved that I’ve already felt the impact of this “gift that keeps on giving” and that I cannot go through it again. For any of you out there that were the unwitting recipients of DNA tests and the unwanted, unexpected surprise that came with them, I’m here for you. Both as an Angel and a friend. I’m happy to commiserate with Scotch and Chocolate while helping your find your truth. Here, hold this kitten.