DNA kits can help you uncover wild family secrets—just ask these people on TikTok
TikTok users are discovering crazy truths using DNA test kits.
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No other app can cause things to go viral quite like TikTok. Whether it's beauty hacks, Cottagecore, or Restoration Hardware's Cloud sofa, you never know what's going to attract widespread attention from the Gen Z audience. While there's all kinds of engaging content and trendy clips on its platform, one hashtag that's been making the news this year is #AncestrySecret, in which users share the shocking discoveries they've made after taking an AncestryDNA test.
How did the trend start?
TikTokers have been divulging their stories in answer to a video from user @meezersqueezer, which prompts them to share “family secrets” that they learnt after using the DNA kit, and the responses have been a wild ride. The original poster shared that they discovered a new great uncle, and that their great grandfather was not who they’d previously believed him to be. They reveal:
“My family identifies as Irish, but we have a Czech last name, so I took a DNA test. It came back half Irish and Scottish… nothing too surprising, I’m super white. A year passes and I get an email from a Polynesian guy, Fa’alongo, who tells me I’m his highest DNA match and he’s searching for his birth dad. So I give him access to my family tree. His team points out that my grandfather was born to an unmarried teen mom and she married the guy I knew as my great grandfather four years later. At this point, I get my family involved. My brother agreed to take a Y DNA test to help narrow down the paternal line, and we find out who my great grandfather is. He’s a guy named Albert who lived in Ohio and he fathered my grandfather, went to war, fathered Fa’alongo, came back to Ohio and had a daughter and a family there, and never told anyone.”
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Countless TikTokers have come forward with their own crazy revelations, ranging from donor-conceived siblings to unfaithful parents to secret love children, among other plot twists you thought only happened in soap operas.
What have other users discovered?
Out of the many crazy tales, TikToker Cat McDonald (@fretlessfeline) found out her biological father was a "billionaire CEO" after her dad gifted her a DNA test. In a now-viral clip, she states, “My dad came up with the brilliant idea of giving the entire family Ancestry DNA kits last year for Christmas. I identify as Irish because my last name is McDonald and my hair is bright red. Turns out, I’m 75 percent Norwegian and the rest is like German and British and there’s zero Irish. So I called my dad and said, ‘Guess what? I’m not Irish at all.’ He calls me at 10 o’clock, which we all know is 3 a.m. dad time, saying, ‘There’s no way you’re not Irish!' So with my dad on the phone, I logged into my account to see if I had any DNA matches, and I had an exact paternal match. It just wasn’t him!”
According to McDonald, Cat’s dad recognized the name of the paternal DNA match as an "old family friend," who she's since tried to contact, but he wasn't willing to meet her "when he heard [her] name."
In another viral TikTok, user Andy Torrey (@kingnabil69) details the "most insane weekend" of his life, when he discovered he was actually the second oldest of 31 siblings, who live all across the world. In his TikTok, Torrey states, "My Dad told me that he was, like, mostly French and English, and I was like, 'That's strange, I wonder why Ireland is higher than that'." After looking at his highest DNA matches and searching the man's name online, Andy discovered a news story about his "sperm donor dad and 15 of [his siblings he] didn't know about partying in Mexico." His parents later confirmed that what he'd found out was true.
When asked how he felt about the situation, Andy told us, "As soon as I pieced everything together and was able to confirm my findings, I was in complete shock. I grew up as an only child that really would have loved to have had siblings, and woke up one day and found out I was the second oldest of 31 and the oldest boy. For the first couple weeks, it was complete joy and excitement. As time has gone by, a lot of feelings of grief, loss, and pain have arisen for the time I have already lost with my siblings; additionally, coming to terms with the fact that my parents have lied to me about my identity for my entire life has not been an easy pill to swallow. Grappling with the fact that I don't believe they had a right to withhold that information from me, but knowing they have been good parents otherwise has been really tough."
In the end, however, it was a positive revelation for him. He added: "For the first two weeks I was on FaceTime non-stop chatting various siblings for hours at a time like it was a full-time job. It has been hands down the most incredible experience of my life getting to meet them, and discovering the myriad of similarities we have (musical talent, affinity for politics, gesturing/phrasing, palette, etc). Since I found out a few months ago, I've actually already met 5 of them in person—I just got back from Boston where I visited 2 siblings over my birthday weekend, and I even got a matching tattoo of a paper plane that some of the siblings have (@paperplanesociety on Instagram). It's been a journey for sure."
A third TikToker, Lydia (@lyddelle_) seemingly found out she was three years older than she originally thought. After getting the results back from her test, she attempted to fill out her profile for her family tree, but the system said that there was no public record of a "Lydia Ellen with [her] birth date."
Lydia then dug up her medical records, in which her first vaccination at 18 months old was recorded in July, 1997. "My medical records suggest I was born November 1995," she explained, meaning I would be 26 this year instead of 23." However, upon further investigation of her prior vaccination schedule, she found that whoever had recorded the immunization in '97 had written the wrong date.
Although she was confused by the results at first, stating "I didn't understand how a mistake could be made like that by medical professionals," Lydia claims she doesn't lament the whole ordeal: "Overall I am glad I took the test...It allowed me to get to know myself and my family both past and present better. It's nice to know where you come from!"
How can AncestryDNA uncover family secrets?
After you submit your test kit to AncestryDNA, your results are broken down into three components: a DNA story (your ethnic background), DNA matches (your relatives on Ancestry), and ThruLines (your family tree). If you opt in to the latter two features, they may help you discover a few secret relatives, or reveal information about your family’s past you may not be privy to.
From there, users can dig into their family histories even further to find potential ancestors, discover shared relatives with other AncestryDNA users, and build out their family tree through generations. Should you want to contact one of your newly discovered family members, Ancestry gives you the option to message them and explore shared family trees.
If you're as curious as these TikTokers are about your family history, an AncestryDNA test could reveal some major surprises—be it a long-lost sibling or a sordid affair. With a database of over 18 million DNA tests (and counting), it's smart to go in prepared for anything.
Get an AncestryDNA kit for $99
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