People who’ve had their families upended by DNA websites reveal what happened.

According to Divorce Statistics, 2% to 3% of all children are born out of infidelity and most of these children are unknowingly raised by men who are not their biological fathers.

These days, with the availability of so many DNA websites like 23andMe and Ancestry, a lot of people are discovering things that maybe they didn't really want.

A viral post on the askReddit forum asked how these new websites have affected families — "People whose families have been destroyed by 23andme and other DNA sequencing services, what went down?"


Here are the best responses to the question:

1. Finding family

“I’ve been searching for my father my whole life and through 23andme I just found a half-brother, finally answering the question. Our father is unfortunately passed, but we’re meeting in person in April.

A couple weeks after we found each other we were also contacted by another half-sister.”

2. Inconclusive

“My brother got our whole family 23andMe kits for Christmas last year. Everyone did the swab and got their results back which showed how we’re all related and yada yada yada, but my results came back inconclusive. 23andMe sent me a new kit to do it again and THAT one also came back inconclusive. So the company sent me an email basically saying I can never do it again probably because I’m using a bunch of resources with no results.

Anyway now my family says I don’t have any human DNA and that I must be a lizard. They make lizard sounds when I’m around and I am ashamed.”

3. What are the chances?

“Kind of the opposite. I found out I have an older sister, apparently my dad was being a little promiscuous lol. RIP old man. And she also shares my birthday, what are the chances?!”

4. He didn’t know

“I just got off the phone with my newly found bio dad. My mom died in 1980, my dad in 2012. I logged Friday in to AncestryDNA to get my results from their Black Friday sale. It said that this person in NC was my father, no doubt. Turns out it was my moms boyfriend before my dad came along. I have no idea if anyone knew. My newly found father certainly didn’t.”

5. Neanderthal

“I discovered that I have some of the highest known Neanderthal DNA, more than 99% users and over 4% of my total DNA. 3 tests submitted and a flight provided to a university in Australia for a testing. Was cool at first, and then not.

It bothered my wife a bit at first thanks to watching a couple documentaries.”

6. No one ever told them

“Not me, but one of my bar regulars did the test with her older sister. Turns out not only are they not related to each other, but both of them are adopted. And, their adoptive parents are both dead. And, their entire extended family knew the whole time but no one ever told them.”

7. Scandalous

“My 75-year-old grandmother just found out her dad was not her real dad. Turns out her mom had an affair with the family doctor and never told a single soul. Not only did she find out her family doctor was her real dad (the one who birthed not only her but also all of her own children) but turns out this family doctor was sleeping with a lot his patients.

She now has a bunch of new half sisters and brothers, some of them knew who their real dad was and some of them didn’t. My great grandmother was quite the secret keeper.”

8. White mystery

“My dad turned out not to be my dad. So the basic 23andMe family surprise I guess? Also found out that my heritage can best be described as white mystery.”

9. Pissed

“When my birth mom was pregnant with me she was too ashamed to admit who my father was. She was too young to be a mom and so she gave me to my current parents when I was born.(they were 10 years older than her and already had a kid) I love my parents and couldn’t care who my birth father was but I wanted to see what I was made of.

Everyone was pretty pissed when we found out my dad was my birth dad.”

10. At least three

“Not destroyed, it just confirmed what we already knew that there was more than one Father between 5 siblings. At least three as it turned out.”

11. Holier than thou

“Spouse found out his dad wasn’t his dad. His judgmental holier than thou Catholic mom had some explaining to do. He lost an immense amount of respect for her, especially when the bio dad tried to reach out to him. She is still in contact with the married man she had an affair with over 4 decades ago. He refuses to speak to him and has limited contact with her.”

12. Dreading the future

“My grandpa passed away from Alzheimer’s, so my family uploaded our raw DNA to another site to see if any of us have the same genes that make it likely for any of the rest of us to have it as well. Luckily most of us didn’t have the gene my grandpa had, but my uncles have it. So while my immediate family knows we’ve got average chances, my poor uncles are probably dreading the future.”

13. Oh, Papa

“Ours was backwards. A French lady messaged my mom and said she thought they shared a father. Very believable because Papa was a proven whore. Sure enough she did a 23andMe and sure enough papa is a great big slut. Rest in peace.”

14. I feel like this probably happens a lot

“I found out I’m not Irish after taking one….I have an Irish tattoo. My mom’s family always bragged about how Irish we were. My life obviously wasn’t destroyed but funny anyways.

It was over twenty years ago, I was 18 and stupid. The tattoo is a nautical compass with a Celtic knot in the middle on my shoulder.”

15. A happy ending

“My story has a rough beginning, but a happy ending. I apologize, this will be a bit lengthy.

I ordered 23andme to try to figure out 'what' I was, not to track down any long lost family members. I had known since I was a teenager that my dad who raised me wasn’t my biological father. I used to ask my mom if I was adopted because I don’t look like anyone in my family.

My mom is almost 100% Irish and my dad (who raised me, he is and always will be my dad) is also Caucasian and I look a bit ethnically ambiguous. Olive (but fair) skin, dark hair, and green eyes; no one else in my family looked like me. My mom finally told me the truth when i was 16.

When I got my report back, I was mostly European by my breakdown, I was still confused. I had several cousins show up, but contacting them didn’t interest me at all. One day I got a notification that I had new relatives and a half sister popped up. This caught me completely off guard and I didn’t know what to do…because I wanted to contact her.

For the first time ever, I wanted to know more. I messaged her, not telling anything about myself, just that if she’d like to know more about me, I would be open with all that I knew. I never got a reply, this kind of broke my heart if I’m being honest, but I accepted that she probably knew nothing of me and that the revelation of my existence may have hurt their family horribly.

A few months later a second cousin popped up and she was shown to be the first cousin of my 'half sister,' this confused me even more. Why was she my second cousin and my half sisters first cousin? She contacted me because she thought I may have answers for her, I told her that I had tried to contact my half sister but heard nothing and apologized for not being able to help her. (Her story is oddly similar to mine.) She also told me that she had communicated briefly with her first cousin, but after bringing me up, she cut off contact with her.

That made me feel horrible. But through our brief interaction, i realized that the three of us were connected through my 'half sisters' maternal blood line. I know my mom is my mom, there’s no question there, so I started thinking, how could this be?..then I realized that my “half sister” was actually my aunt, my biological father’s sister. Half-siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents all share 25% of their DNA, all the connections on these websites are based on probability.

I messaged her again and told her that I thought she may be my aunt and I told her more about myself…my birthdate and where I was conceived, and that if she had a brother who was in that area at that time, he was my biological father. She messaged me back in no time. It turns out that my paternal grandfather had passed away years ago and when she got the first message and saw the half sister connection, she assumed her father had a child that none of them knew about. I’m younger than her and her siblings, obviously, so I would have come along after them.

She didn’t contact me because she didn’t want to hurt her mother, and I’m sure she was hurt by this too. I understood, completely. She then went on to tell me that they all knew about me but didn’t want to disrupt my life. She said my biological father never forgot about me…I had always thought I was his dirty little secret. (He and my mother were both married to other people when I was conceived..that’s another long story.)

Anyways, my husband, children, and I have since met them all. I actually have three half siblings that also knew about me. It was so strange to finally meet people who I resemble. I’m a spitting image of my paternal grandmother when she was young, they were all blown away by that. We stay in contact and I couldn’t be happier that I bought the 23andme kit.”

A version of this article was originally published by our partners at Did You Know Facts and was written by Matt Gilligan.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

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There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

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