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The Most Shocking Secrets Learned After Taking An Online DNA Test

Updated July 29, 2019 65.1k votes 19.2k voters 1.4m views11 items

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DNA tests can reveal more than your Irish roots. Online genealogy sites such as 23andme.com and Ancestry.com offer to trace your ancestral heritage but can reveal a lot more than that. Customers who submit their DNA for testing have found their lives changes, families splintered and everything from an unknown sibling to a potential wrongdoer in the family, like the recent case of Joseph DeAngelo, who committed a series of heinous offenses across the state of California.

Here's just a sample, so to speak, of the shocking secrets that genetic tests have revealed.

  • 1

    A Man Discovered That His Unborn Twin Fathered His Child

    Photo: Maggie Bartlett/NHGRI / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    When a Washington state resident and his partner were told that their son's blood type didn't match their own, they were confused. The couple had used a fertility clinic to conceive their child but when neither parent matched the boy's genetic material, they feared there had been a mix-up at the lab. Even a DNA test failed to find the cause of the anomaly.

    The couple finally found their answer through the genetic genealogy testing at 23andMe. According to the test, the man who thought he was the child's father was really his uncle.  How did this happen?  The only explanation was that the "father" had been a twin, albeit a chimera - a twin that absorbed the cells from his sibling after the latter died in the womb. 

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  • 2

    A Man Found Out His Best Friend Was Actually His Brother

    Video: YouTube

    Walter Macfarlane and Alan Robinson had been friends for over six decades when they discovered that they were brothers. Both natives of Honolulu, HI, they grew up together and even vacationed with their families as adults. When both men were in their seventies, they began researching their family ancestries and discovered that they shared a birth mother. 

    Neither Walter nor Alan were raised by their birth parents. Walter Macfarlane's mother was going to give him up for adoption but his grandparents opted "to hanai their grandson - part of a Hawaiian practice in which a family can adopt a person informally, with or without papers."  They brought him up in their home and the identity of his father remained unknown. Two years later, Alan Robinson was adopted. He knew nothing about his birth mother or his biological father.

    Walter and Alan met when they were in the sixth grade and established a close bond. Once they got the results of their DNA tests, they understood why they'd been so drawn to each other. These two men, who had always felt like family, really were. 

     

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  • 3

    DNA Helped Solve The 64 Year Old Mystery Of A Baby Abandoned In A Phone Booth

    Photo: Jamie McCaffrey / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Steve Dennis was adopted as an infant and, in his teenage years, he learned he had been abandoned in a phone booth in Lancaster, Ohio as a baby. In January 1954, two men discovered Dennis stuffed inside a phone booth. He was inside a cardboard box and wrapped in blankets with a bottle of milk left nearby. While there were many investigations after the discovery, no one ever determined who left Dennis in the phone booth and why. 

    64 years later, after his teenage children began asking questions about their heritage, Dennis submitted his DNA to Ancestry.com. Three months later, he received an email saying the site found a match and Dennis was able to connect with his first cousin, who revealed the name of Dennis's mother. 

    According to the cousin, it had been a long known family secret that someone abandoned a baby in a phone booth at one point. After getting in touch with his half sister, Dennis learned his mother was 85 and lived in Baltimore, Maryland. While it took his mother some time to recall the precise details, she eventually revealed she gave birth at 18. Dennis's father said they could only marry if they abandoned the baby and so she complied, leaving her son in a phone booth.

    Dennis's father left soon after, and his location remains unknown. 

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  • 4

    DNA Test Revealed A Lot Of Major Medical Malpractice

    Photo: lePhotography / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Kelli Rowlette's parents used a fertility doctor to conceive in 1980 and were told that they would have the best results if they used a "85 percent mixture of her dad's [Mr. Fowler] genetic material, and 15 percent...from anonymous donor." When Rowlette performed a DNA test as an adult, she discovered the shocking truth: The doctor, Gerald Mortimer, had used his own sperm and was technically her father. 

    Rowlette thought that the results from her DNA test were a mistake. She has filed a lawsuit against the doctor, his wife, and his former medical group alleging "medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, fraud, battery, emotional distress and breach of contract." At this time, there are no other instances of Mortimer fathering additional children.

    In another instance of fertility professional misconduct, "Paula" and "Jeff" learned that the father of their daughter, "Ashley," was actually a worker at the clinic they used in Utah after taking DNA tests through 23andMe. The clinic employee, Tom, had kidnapped a college student and held her captive as part of a "love experiment" in 1975.

    During his time at the fertility clinic, Tom had displayed pictures of children he "helped" couples conceive, indicating that he might have "donated" his sperm more than once. 

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