Recently more and more individuals have become interested in finding out more about their ancestry composition and DNA kits have made this more accessible for many. These kits are being gifted on special occasions, such as birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries and many individuals feel excited to share their results with loved ones. The convenience and the facility of use allow individuals of various ages to participate and find out more about their DNA and ancestry. Most kits collect DNA samples through saliva that are sent to a laboratory for analysis. Individuals are then sent detailed information regarding ancestry composition, genetic health concerns, traits, and more.
Although these kits are gaining more and more popularity and people are excited to do genealogical research, some information that emerges may cause some psychological distress for many individuals and families. Specifically, there is a risk of uncovering surprising information and many individuals do not consider the psychological impact that may be caused by uncovering information that is unexpected. For example, these kits include a DNA relative finder tool that could match you with other possible family members that have also provided a DNA sample. Many individuals may be happy to connect with distant aunts, uncles, or cousins; however, there have been instances where individuals have found siblings that they did not know about or uncovered that the father they grew up with is not actually their biological father. This may lead to disclosures of extramarital affairs in families, unknown adoptions, lies regarding paternity, or other situations that may tear a family apart. The relative finder tool has often been described as a social media friend finder search using genetics rather than contact information, such as email addresses and phone numbers.
Many of these genealogy sites offer the ability to turn off the family finder function; therefore, if you are afraid to uncover some family secrets, it may be best to deactivate this function. It is also important to note that some genetic findings may increase anxiety regarding medical traits or diseases. It is always important to consult with healthcare professions and take preventative measures. These genetic findings cannot be used to diagnose without further medical testing.
In all, genealogical sites could be extremely helpful in finding additional information regarding our ancestry compositions and finding estranged relatives. However, these DNA kits should be used with caution, as they could uncover information that could have a significant psychological impact on some. If you or your family have been affected by unexpected results from a genealogy kit, you may benefit from individual and/or family therapy services focused on coping with this information. Licensed clinical psychologist at The Miami Psychology Group are available to serve individuals in the Miami and Miami Beach area.