On March 3rd, I appeared on the Everything’s Relative podcast hosted by Eve Sturges. The podcast explores DNA discoveries, mostly what are known as NPE experiences, or Not Parent Expected experiences. Since 2018, many people who have decided to do a gene test with services such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe have discovered that one or more of their family members are not genetically related to them. So what starts out as a light-hearted genealogy exploration becomes a harrowing journey of self discovery.
What does a person do with this information? For instance, if the person you grew up with as your father is not genetically related to you, are they still your father? And what about his cultural identity? Can you claim that as part of your own identity anymore? And why was this kept a secret? What patterns exist in your family that have worked to keep this fact hidden?
In her podcast, Eve Sturges explores these questions and many others related to DNA surprises. She is a therapist and herself went through an NPE experience and so is able to explore the subtleties of this topic. For someone who has experienced this and felt alone, I have found Eve Sturges’s podcast to be incredibly helpful.
As you may know, the last story in my short comic Someone to Watch Over Me discusses my NPE experience. Eve Sturges ordered my comic, read it, and asked me to be on her show. When I did the comic, I left out a lot of specific details. Yet when I did the podcast, I decided to talk about things that I avoided discussing in the comic. Because over time, what I found is that having a DNA discovery is less about the person or persons who you are genetically related to (the NPE surprise itself) and more about the dynamics within your birth-certificate family.
Also, since the podcast, I have finally met my biological aunt and her two daughters (my cousins) face-to-face. I’m still processing this meeting and all it means, but overall it was incredibly affirming.