Sharing DNA, and Nothing Else

Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

Sharing DNA, and Nothing Else

Wednesday, 28 February

The consumer genomics industry has exploded in recent years. Websites like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have customer databases in the millions. But for some people, like a woman we met named Amy, the at-home DNA testing craze can bring some unexpected revelations.

In 2016, Amy spit into a tube and mailed it to Ancestry.com's DNA testing service. She'd always been interested in genealogy, so the test seemed like the perfect way to learn more about her heritage—but what she found out was that the man who raised her wasn't her biological father. "It was this moment where time stood still and things got quiet," she says about the day she found out. "And I just sort of received, read it, and then just shut it off in a way that I've never really experienced."

After the shock wore off, Amy braced herself to talk with her mother about what she'd discovered. And as she learned more about her donor and his family, she also struggled with whether or not she wanted to be in contact with them—a decision that became even more complicated when Amy found out that her biological father is a staunch Trump supporter, while she had switched careers only months before to become a full-time Democratic campaign worker. "It's like the universe's funny joke," she says. "'Woman gives up her life to join the Democratic resistance, and finds out she's related to a Trump-Pence supporter.'"

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