Perhaps you have a sibling you never knew about, always wanted to know about your biological family after being adopted, or simply want to be more informed about your ancestors.
Whatever the reason, DNA testing can achieve many goals.
It sounds simple, but it can uncover a whole host of results – simply spitting in a tube and sending off your DNA to a lab for testing can result in shocking discoveries.
You can screen your genes for health conditions, find out what your origins are, and unlock information about your family. Here’s a selection of inspirational stories from people who met each other for the first time after taking DNA tests.
Two half sisters signed up for an online genealogy test within 2 years of each other, and discovered a part of their family they never knew existed.
Stacey Kennedy, 45, from Ottawa, believed her only immediate family was her mother, father and brother. But when she saw an advert for genealogy website AncestryDNA in 2016, she decided to purchase a kit.
Six weeks later, she got her results, and nothing in particular came up, so she moved on with her life.
Meanwhile, Kim McFarlane, 45, from Kingston, was aware she’d been adopted, and had no idea where her biological family was.
After receiving questions about her heritage in the past, including whether she was Indigenous, Greek or Asian, she signed up for a DNA test in 2018 and sent it off.
A few weeks later, she received an email from AncestryDNA – and Kennedy received an email from them two years after picking up her own test results.
The email read ‘DNA Matches: You and another member share DNA. Find out more about this new connection’ with a link to view the match.
AncestryDNA believed they could possibly be first cousins on their paternal side, so the women were provided with each others’ names.
Kennedy messaged McFarlane saying ‘Hello. Ancestry says we’re close family members and I’m just trying to figure out how exactly we are related.’
McFarlane replied ‘Hi Stacey. Nice to hear from you. I just received my results from ancestry on Sunday, and noticed the connection as well..It appears that we are connected from my paternal side…’
Kennedy replied: ‘Hi Kim. Wow, I don’t know what to say…I’m now starting to wonder if we may possibly be half siblings…’
McFarlane had opened her adoption file as part of her journey to discover her family heritage, and she found the name of her biological mother. The woman told McFarlane the name of her father – and his last name matched Kennedy’s.
As if that wasn’t surprising enough, it turns out McFarlane was born just five months after Kennedy.
Kennedy had known her parents had split up before she was born, got back together before she turned one, then split again when she was in her teens. But it was a total surprise that her father had children other than her and her brother.
‘I was just stunned. My stomach dropped – shock,’ she said. ‘But then I thought through it and I’m like, I have a sister, you know? A half-sister. I’ve always wanted a sister.’
Rich Bodager was adopted in 1968, and when he turned 40, he and his wife decided to find out where he came from.
His wife bought him a 23andme DNA test for Christmas. ‘It was a total surprise to me. I didn’t ask for it. I was kind of intrigued,’ he said.
After sending off his saliva in the mail, Bodager awaited the results.
One day, while cooking in the kitchen, he received an email with a surprising revelation.
‘I dropped my phone. My wife thought I had burned myself on the stove,’ he said. The message informed him that he has a half-sister, who lives in London and had spent the last 15 years looking for him.
It turns out they both have blue eyes and love peanut butter. ‘The first time we exchanged pictures and we looked at each other’s eyes, the eyes were freakishly similar,’ he said.
He made plans to visit his sister in September 2018 after speaking with her over Skype. ‘It’s a great excuse to go back and forth to London and hopefully we’ll be able to get her out to Las Vegas as well.’
On a cold January morning in 1954, two bread delivery men discovered a baby abandoned in a telephone booth. He was wrapped in blankets inside a cardboard box in Lancaster, Ohio. He was very cold, and had a bottle of milk left next to him in the box.
Many people tried to help the police identify the baby, but nobody could find anything out.
Dennis knew he’d been adopted as a baby, but didn’t learn about the phone booth until he was in his teens.
64 years later, the local newspaper did a follow-up story, and Dennis even travelled to Lancaster to look for clues. But he found nothing.
Later, his two teenage children started asking their dad questions about where he came from, and they decided he would submit his DNA to an ancestry site to find out.
Within three months, he got an email. His first cousin matched with him, and said he believed he knew Dennis’s mother.
The cousin connected him to his half sister, who then contacted his mother.
At this point, Dennis’s mother was 85 years old and living in Baltimore. Her memory wasn’t good, so she didn’t remember everything about the story at first. But as the weeks went by, she began recalling the details.
She gave birth to Dennis aged 18, but her father gave her an ultimatum – they could only marry if they left the baby. During a drive through Ohio from Kentucky – where Dennis was born – his birth father took the baby and left him in the phone booth.
Dennis since planned to go and visit his mother in Baltimore, and ‘will take whatever she gives me and leave it at that.’
Henrik and Maria were separated as infants in South Korea and adopted by two different Swedish families. Neither of them knew the other existed, as they were placed in two separate orphanages before being adopted.
When she was older, Maria decided to find out more about her biological family by taking a MyHeritage DNA test. Henrik also took a test around this time, wanting to achieve the same goal.
Not long afterwards, Henrik opened up his MyHeritage mobile app to discover he had a new match – a sister.
He immediately contacted her, and they met in Stockholm after 37 years apart in March 2018.
Speaking about meeting his sister for the first time, Henrisk said: ‘It was so wonderful to finally hug her. Looking in each others’ eyes and discussing all sorts of things. We were very open with each other and we both immediately had a feeling of belonging.’
Maria said: ‘I look forward to this new amazing life trip with you, Henrik. We have many years to make up for.’
The two siblings are now planning a joint trip to South Korea to find out more about their roots, with the hope of getting answers about their biological family.