Her brother entered the living room with an at-home ancestry kit, contending he was curious about his Scandinavian heritage.
According to him, he bought it with his neighbor, who owned one as well. Neither of them knew what their actions would unleash.
A Peaceful Life
Mary Elizabeth Keaton’s intention in moving to Glendale, Missouri, was to live the remainder of her life in a tranquil neighborhood with those she loved the most.
She’d had a long life filled with both successes and missteps. But one blunder she’d made during the past four decades would come back to bite her.
She Was Lucky
Mary settled in Glendale at the age of fifty-nine with her amazing husband Mark and her younger brother Gary. Her kids had left the home years ago, so their house spent most of the time is empty. Especially while she was at work.
She was a biology teacher at a high school, and she was very lucky. She had a lovely home with great neighbors. Many people who saw Mary would have no idea that she had been hiding a dreadful secret for over 40 years.
Her First Love
Mary had been in love before she married Mark. Or so she believed. She was very young when she met the boy who changed everything. She was fifteen years old, and he was a dashing senior.
She enjoyed being with him, and she felt like nothing mattered if he wasn’t there to share it with her. But this kind of thinking would get her in to difficulty sooner or later.
A Painful Memory
Even though forty years had passed, she still could not help but think about that one fateful morning she took the pregnancy test. She remembered feeling powerless when she learned she was too young to care for a child.
She could still remember her former boyfriend telling her that she was crazy. But she was only fifteen years old, what were her options?
Mary made the difficult decision to give her child up for adoption after many hours of discussion with her therapist, mother, and doctor.
Her family was struggling financially back then, and she knew that it would be impossible for her family to support another child, even if they wanted to. Mary’s counselor suggested a course of action, claiming that it would be beneficial for all parties involved.
Her Biggest Mistake
Mary’s baby was adopted by a lovely pair who were not able to have children of their own. It was a painful experience, but she knew that her son would be able to live a life she could never give him.
All of the pain faded away after that, and she moved on with her life. Yet no matter how the years passed, Mary would quietly reflect upon the sacrifice she’d made to give up her first child – something she considered her biggest mistake in life. Little did Mary know what fate would bring her.
Mary went on with her life, but her baby was always at the back of her mind – like a constant, painful reminder. At one point, years later, she was tempted to try and make contact with the couple who had adopted her son just so she could see him again, but she held herself back.
The whole situation also made her curious about her own heritage. Little did she know, this curiosity was the fatal mistake that would crack her secret wide open years later.
Mary had a good life in Glendale, but it was no thanks to her neighbors, the Hales. The Hales and Mary’s family, particularly Mark and Mary’s younger brother Gary, were always at odds.
The main points of contention would be petty, such as whose dog urinated on whose lawn and whose nightlights kept who awake. One day, however, something would happen that would make everything explode.
A Strange Relationship
Summer had just begun, and forty-year-old Gary was spending time with Chris, the father of the Hales family. Mary thought their relationship was one of the most interesting she’d ever witnessed. They’d be joking one minute and fighting the next.
But that week, Gary showed up with an ancestry kit in the living room, proclaiming he wanted to discover how deep his Scandinavian roots ran. He explained that he had bought the kit with Chris. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
Gary entered his information into the DNA database, only to learn that he and Chris are perhaps first cousins. The two purchased new testing kits from a different manufacturer, believing the old ones were defective.
The results were identical, which forced them to obtain further testing kits. The answer was different in this case. It sent shivers down their spines and resurrected nightmares Mary had fought so hard to keep hidden.
“Gary came home that night with his eyes glossy and mouth wide open,” Mary shared. She revealed her little brother had always been the easy-going type, and seeing him this worried made her mind race.
“I couldn’t tell what had happened, but I knew it was serious,” she said. Before she could speak, Chris walked in after Gary. What they’d reveal would send her reeling back.
Gary And Chris
Gary and Chris explained what they’d been doing, and as they continued to talk, the reality of it all began taking form right before Mary’s eyes.
“The results said we were first cousins,” Gary said. “But we’ve taken more tests, sis.” Chris stepped forward, his eyes glistening with stemmed tears, “Most of the tests claim he’s my uncle, and you’re my biological mom.”
Mary fell back. The world around her was spinning, the air in her lungs thinning. She struggled to take her breaths, her mind seemingly threatening to implode on itself.
The pain she’d felt forty-four years ago while giving up her son came back with a stinging vengeance. She ate back a cry. Her eyes trailed up, locking with her little brother before straying to Chris. She gasped.
You see, Mary had also taken a home DNA test a few years ago. When she began thinking about her son, she became curious about her own ancestry and family tree.
Although she hadn’t taken the test for the sole purpose of finding her son, she had a vague hope that she would. She hadn’t found any surprises at the time, but her DNA was in the database. That’s how Chris found the match.
Putting It Into Perspective
Looking at Chris put everything into perspective. For the last two years that Mary and her family lived in Glendale, she’d felt like she knew Chris or had at least met him before.
She’d spent the first few months trying to place him but ultimately gave up when it became too taxing—but staring at him now filled in the blanks. Chris was her son.
Mary sat down with her husband, brother, and neighbor that evening. She opened up about her past, remembering that Gary had been a little over a year when she gave Chris up so he didn’t remember it.
She’d expected Chris or Mark to be mad at her for her past, but they were anything but. They understood the tough decision she’d had to make and assured her that they still had time to create a lifetime of memories together. But Mary’s secret wasn’t the only one that was uncovered by a home DNA test.
Home DNA Tests
Most people have heard about the cute little test you can easily take in the privacy of your own home called the home DNA test. The little box is easily available at most drug stores, and people are fascinated by their unknown history being brought to life.
Some people even wonder if the DIY kit can tell you more about yourself based on people long past who make up your genetic code. And there have been some interesting things that have been uncovered as a result of these DNA kits.
Ancestry.com is one of the most popular home DNA kits. The test costs as little as $59, and 1 in 5 Americans have already submitted their DNA and have been loaded on Ancestry.com’s database.
But, as the tests unleashed drama on countless families, Ancestry.com felt it needed a disclaimer. “You may discover unexpected facts about yourself or your family when using our services,” warns Ancestry’s privacy statement. “Once discoveries are made, we can’t undo them.”
A Redditor claimed he had been searching for his biological father for 10 years when he decided to take a home DNA test. The results were horrifying.
“I found out A. My bio father was 14 when I was born B. My mom was 20 when I was born C. My father died when he was 24 D. He was murdered by his best friend E. That there was a lifetime original tv series with an episode dedicated to his murder F. That I had a half brother G. My half brother didn’t know the person he called dad his whole life wasn’t his dad.”
Another Redditor wrote a post explaining how his dad and his dad’s his two siblings found out that they all had different fathers: “One other brother has already passed, so we’ll never know if there was a 4th baby daddy or not. My dad is a junior and named his son the third after a man who it turns out is no relation,” he wrote.
“Our last name is an Irish name, and we’re 0% Irish as his bio father was likely 100% German. My grandmother was a quiet, devout Catholic woman as far as I always knew, so it’s been wild finding out she had some major secrets.”
“My brother and I did 23andMe tests, and when we went to compare our results, it said he was only my half-brother. We thought we were full-blood related our whole lives,” another anonymous Reddit user wrote.
“Turns out, our biological mom (who has since abandoned us and passed away) cheated on my dad and made him believe the baby was his. My dad was 20 at the time, and it changed the whole course of his life. He loves my brother as his own but damn.”
Missing In Action
Another sad-but-true home DNA kit story involves someone finding out that their relative actually faked his own death. Turns out, he just ran away.
“Not my ancestry, but my partner found out their great grandfather did not die in war like everyone believed. turns out he started a new family across the ocean and abandoned his home life.” But not all stories are completely negative.
Confirmation Of A Family Legend
“Yay! I can finally share this! I proved a family urban legend TRUE! When I took my 23&Me test, it came back that I’m 2.8% Ashkenazi Jewish. My mom was a little confused, but my dad got VERY excited. Turns out, there was a family legend on his side that someone(about 150 years ago) had an affair with a Jewish person, and the resulting kid left Germany to the US at 18.”
“How did this legend start, you may ask? Well, it started with my paternal great grandma(who looked very Jewish), who kept having people come up to her speaking Yiddish. So with my results, we could prove that the affair DID happen.”
A man named George Doe told a story about when he gave his parents a 23andMe DNA kit as a gift. He only intended to discover the health history of the family, but what he found was extreme.
A line at the bottom of the page read: “check this box if you want to see close family members in this search program.” He did check it and found that he shared 22% of his genome with someone else in the database: a man named Thomas.
When he asked his father if he knew any ‘Thomas,’ his father said no. But George went to check and discovered that in his father’s “close family member” box, Thomas popped up with a 50% genome match.
This meant that George’s father was also Thomas’s father. But not all DNA kits end up with sad stories and cheating spouses.
Another case sees Chassity, who, at 31 years old, had no idea who her father was. It was because of how little knowledge she had about her ancestry that she decided to take a DNA test in the first place.
When she got her results, she was surprised to see a lot of European heritage, which was coming from her x chromosomes. She pressed her mother for more information about her true heritage.
A Name She’d Never Heard Before
Her mother is African American, and she would always say that Chassity’s father was ‘deeply dark-skinned,’ but Chassity would find out that wasn’t quite the truth.
She argued with her mother until she gave in and told Chassity a name she had never heard before. Her entire identity was based on a lie about her ethnic heritage, who her father was, and even the last name she had been using for 31 years.
With the name, Chassity managed to track her father down on Facebook. With shaking fingers, she sent him a message.
“I didn’t know if he even knew about me or would even accept I could possibly be his child,” she recalls with apprehension, but the message she got back was better than she could have imagined.
The Moral Of The Story
“Wow, I’ve been looking for you forever,” her father replied on Facebook messenger. Chastity couldn’t believe it.
Chassity’s story is among countless good decisions to take a home DNA test, as well as decisions that were not quite thought through. Making sure you want to know about your past before you go digging seems to be the moral of the story.