Senior Living


Health & Spirit

Family Histories

Doug Mayberry on

Q: My eldest daughter has been getting into genealogy and got the whole family to do DNA tests. Although we were excited to see the genetic breakdown of our family, now I wish we'd never done it.

When we looked at the results, it became apparent that my wife isn't related to her siblings; she must have been adopted, but we haven't uncovered the records yet.

Both of my wife's parents passed a long time ago, so there's no explanation or resolution for our discovery. She's been reassessing her entire childhood based on what her parents kept secret for so long.

How do people deal with these kinds of revelations?

A: The plethora of information now available for genealogists is amazing and ever increasing. Whereas many family histories used to be obscured through time, we're now able to unearth the past.

Although these advances are impressive, they also come with unintended effects. Many families have found themselves in your shoes and uncovered painful and unexpected histories.


Reckoning with new discoveries makes us rethink who we are. Our identities are also so tied to our pasts and connections that it is shocking when we find things that contradict our known narratives.

It's normal to go through a period of grief, disappointment and confusion. It takes time to realign newfound knowledge with what we already know.

Soon enough, we start to remember the memories that we've gained over the years. Once the shock is less fresh, you'll be able to recontextualize the information or view it in a more positive light.

The best thing to do is give it time. -- Emma, Doug's granddaughter


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