Why so glum?

The day I found out about my NPE is one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I had been looking around on several research sites, and found Genesis, I uploaded my raw data and waited to see the results. I had no idea I was taking the lid off Pandora’s Box.

What’s with all the red, green and blue?

One of the utilities I could try was ” AYRP” . Without paying much attention, I uploaded my kit number and waited the two or three seconds for the results to appear. At first, I had no idea what all the green, blue and red meant. All I know is there sure were a lot of those colours.

Why are my blocks so big?

What the utility presented to me was my pairs of chromosomes and whether or not they showed what are called ” long runs of homozygosity “. Areas on the chromosomes that match show up as green and if they are long areas that match, they show up as blue.

For most people, the colours are mostly red with tiny sections of green spread out. There is no blue at all. Mine were so different! There was a ton of green and an awful lot of blue.

What did that mean? I got my answer at the bottom of the page.

What the @#$% ?

As I read through the results, I wasn’t making heads or tails from it, but at the bottom there was the explanation that would be my NPE surprise.

There, in plain, dry black and white language was the answer.

My parents are related.

Needless to say, I freaked out. What did “related” mean in this context? Were they cousins or even closer? Had my biological mother been sexually abused? If I did try and find her, what would I even say to her? Would she hate me? What did that mean for my health and the health of my own children?

I had no idea the roller coaster I had just bought a ticket for and how much it would teach me about institutionalized deception, abuse, the adoption process and also that there really are an awful lot of really kind and generous people in the world.

An open invitation…

As I have mentioned already, I welcome input from anyone who is going through their own perosnal NPE experience. Whether r you are an adoptee who found out your biological parent aren’t who you thought, you have experienced an unexpected paternity result or you have been impacted by an NPE in some other way, please feel free to share your story as a guest poster.

I’d also love to hear form a woman who has been in the same ( or similar) shoes as my biological mother. Your story needs to be heard too.

Surprise! Your beginnings aren’t what you thought they were

Now I had my DNA test results in both interpreted and raw forms. I had my birth certificate, such as it was, but I was really no further ahead. I joined a couple of online support groups, but they were full of people in the same boat as me. We had information, but just bits and pieces, and for a lot of us, it wasn’t enough to find our biological family.

I thought there must be more I could do.

Opening Pandora’s Box

I write for a living, and one of the largest components of my job is research. I put those skills to work, chasing down information and trying to put it all together. Since many of the DNA testing and research sites allow you to upload your raw DNA data for free, I did so, hoping to find more relative matches.

I didn’t. It was almost always the same people. I couldn’t figure it out. Other people had lots of matches, but mine were sparse. That made no sense to me, especially considering that, according to the information I’d been given, my biological mother had a big family. One site gave me a lot of helpful health information, but there were still no concrete answers. What was I doing wrong?

Then I found another site that let me upload my data so I could run in through several different utilities. As expected, no matches, and a lot of details I didn’t really understand.

The lid is off!

At that point , I was more confused that ever. Each of the sites gave me slightly different racial group, but it was all similar. I knew my maternal haplogroup, that I have a whole slew of genes that result in a range of autoimmune diseases and a couple that are believed to be linked to autism. This makes sense, as two of my kids, along with me, are autistic.

I began to feel like I was spinning my wheels but getting nowhere, which is a feeling I’m sure a lot of adoptees feel when they are searching for their biological family. I went through pages of documents online, contacted “matches” on DNA testing sites, networked with other adoptees to share search tips and did my best.

Then it happened.

I found the utility program on a site I had been using. It would turn my world upside down.

So What’s Your Story Anyway?

I’d prefer to remain a anonymous, and when you find out why, I think you’ll understand.

In the beginning…

A little less than 47 years ago, I was adopted as an infant by my mom and dad who already had an adopted son. They were really wonderful parents, and I had a normal enough childhood.

They had always told me that I was adopted, and the way my parents framed it was they had wanted a little girl to love, and when they saw me, they knew I was the right little girl for their family. I knew right from the start I was adopted, and my mom and dad told me my biological parents were young and couldn’t care for a child. They felt that giving me up would give me a better life, so that’s the decision they made.

The early years…

When I turned 12, my mom and dad gave me all the records and other information they had regarding my adoption and we went through it together. They told me if I ever wanted to start trying to find my biological family, they would help me in any way they could.

I didn’t feel the need to. I felt secure in my family, and didn’t feel any real sense of curiosity. In my mind, I built up a picture of what my biological family was like, what they were doing and where they lived. It was nothing special, just ordinary, but it was comforting to know they were out there somewhere if I ever wanted to look.

What changed?

I lived my life. I finished high school graduated from university, got married and started a family. Due to being a military family, we moved around a lot, and eventually moved to the city with the base that would be my husband’s last posting. We started to put down roots, bought a home but then my mom got sick.

My mom passed away from cancer, and then, one by one, my kids started getting sick. Then I became ill, and it was all autoimmune related. We weren’t getting many answers about why this was happening, so I decided to try and find some.

I sent away for my original birth certificate and signed up with a site to have my DNA tested to try and find some relatives. I had to wait a few weeks, but the results eventually arrived.

I admit I was getting really excited, and even my husband, kids, dad, and aunt were also on pins and needles. I got my birth certificate and a few days later, my DNA results were in. I thought I might get some answers.

The elation

I logged into Ancestry and was greeted with lots of matches. All of a sudden, I had a whole slew of biological cousins! Without understanding that a fourth, fifth or sixth cousin is actually quite distantly related, I started contacting as many as I could. They were all friendly and kind, but couldn’t help.

That’s when I started to notice that, compared to a lot of people, I had relatively few cousins, but I didn’t know why. I brushed it off and decided to take a closer look at my birth certificate.

That was the first sign something was wrong.

The deflation

When I compared my original birth certificate with the one my parents had been given, I learned several things. First, I learned I had been born two months premature. My second birth certificate lied about that. I also had my mother’s last name and some other information, but it wasn’t adding up at all with what my family had been given.

I looked for women with her name from the community listed as being her home town, and found nothing useful. I tried reaching out to people with her last name, but all I ended up doing was consoling a man who was my age and who had just found out he was adopted. I was able to help him a bit, so I guess that’s one good thing from this whole mess.

I sort of had this image in my mind that I would find my biological mother and we’d connect. I could ask questions of her, she could ask them of me and we could go from there. I thought the same things about my biological father. I wasn’t expecting sunshine and roses, but it would have been a positive experience.

I had no idea it could get so complicated

What Makes an NPE so Upsetting?

Some people out there may be wondering why and NPE would be such difficult news? After all, it doesn’t really change a person. They will still be who they always were, and after all, your life is what you make of it, isn’t it?

Yes and no.

While it is certainly true that many of the important things in life are self determined, on a very fundamental level, our DNA is what makes us what we are. It’s the foundation for all of the rest. Disturb that foundation, and it can really shake a person.

What’s it like when this happens?

In was adopted. That was the world as I knew it. I was fine with with somewhat nebulous idea in my mind of what my parents were like. In my imagination, they were a nice couple, in love but not ready to have a child. I liked to think they thought it was hard to give me up, but did it because they knew it was what was best for me.
While it’s possible, at least in the case of my mother, this was true, my reality is now very different.

For me, finding out that my biological family isn’t what I thought it was took away what was a very comforting fantasy. I never pictured my biological parents as being anyone important, famous or even out of the ordinary. They were just average.

“The Unpleasant Realities”

A friend of mine who was also adopted and I jokingly refer to ourselves as”the unpleasant realities”. Like me, she is a NPE. Her mother was sexually assaulted by several men, and she was the result. She learned all this when she decided to look into her background and found out the truth.

My origin was under different circumstances, but the end result is the same. A person in their late 40’s trying to understand where they came from.

How does it feel?

I can’t speak about how anyone else feels, just myself. For me, it completely blew away the scenario I had in my head of what meeting my biological family would be like. While I didn’t think it would be easy, I had thought it would be a positive experience.

Now, I’m not so sure. If I do find my Biomother (biological mother), it may well bring up some very traumatic feelings for her. Add tot hat the fact that I have no idea if she even knows I’m alive, as some women who gave their child up back then in what is referred to by some as the baby scoop era” were told their son or daughter was either stillborn or had passed away during the birth process. It was though to be easier if they never got to see or hold their baby.

Can I really approach this woman, out of the blue, and tell her I’m the daughter she gave up all those years ago?

I’m debating that right now.

If you’ve been in this situation, what did you do? If you found your genetic parent, what happened? What it positive, negative or neither?

Hello and Welcome!

I’d like to start off by welcoming everyone who stops by my blog. If I’m being honest, it’s not going to be an easy one to write, and it may be even harder for some to read. My story is not unique, but I really do wish that it was.

First off though, some housekeeping.

What does “NPE” mean anyway?

Have you ever heard the term ” NPE”? My guess is you probably haven’t. Simply put, NPE is shorthand for “NonParental Event“. This is used in genealogy when an individual finds out that his or her parent is someone other than expected. It’s basically a dry way of saying that someone had their DNA tested, and they found out the person they thought was their mother or father isn’t their genetic parent.

Some examples of this situation are pregnancy due to an affair, a secret adoption, undisclosed fertility treatments, unscrupulous fertility treatment professionals, familial sexual abuse, etc. While all are similar at their core, they each have their own unique aspects.

How do these discoveries happen?

It depends on the situation. More and more people are choosing to have their DNA tested. and sometimes, they find something unexpected or even upsetting.

I have no problem with DNA testing sites, and can see a lot of upsides. In my opinion, people simply don’t prepare themselves for the possible outcomes. It’s wonderful to find new relatives, useful to learn about your health, but there could be some surprises that aren’t so straightforward.

Other times, the results are from a DNA test done for medical reasons or to establish paternity.

What’s the point of this website?

I’m currently going through my own NPE experience, and am learning first hand just how unnerving it can be. There’s some really amazing people who have gone above and beyond in supporting me through all of this, and I’d like to pass that along.

Feel free to comment, ask me a question or send me a message. I’m not a computer person, so this blog will be really bare bones at first. With time, I hope it will grow and improve.

If you would like to contribute to the blog by sharing your own story, please let me know. I would be happy to do so.