DNA

Upon coming home from my weekend birthday getaway, I was feeling fantastic. Trips, get-aways and vacations can do a lot to refuel and recharge a person. I felt energized, optimistic, and just generally really happy. I was so thankful that my husband surprised me with this trip and it was a wonderful memory making weekend for both of us. Now I was ready to take on anything and at the top of the list was to continue on this journey of connection with Lee. It was wonderful to connect and talk to him and now I wanted to follow through and get all of the letters and cards scanned and emailed to him as promised. It was easy work, as I am very organized, especially regarding this. I’ve treated it like I’m a detective on a case and I have been meticulous and methodical. I don’t know if I mentioned it previously, but I even went through training as a Private Investigator a year ago. It was something I chose to do in order to help make me a better victim advocate and it also proved very helpful in this search. Anyway, I got everything sent to Lee and texted him to let him know that I had sent it. 

He called the next day and we talked about the cards and letters. There was a lot in them that he recognized in terms of locations and names. But he had not known about my dad. He also mentioned that he did not recognize the baby photo. So I am assuming it is one that he had never been shown. We discussed our concerns over confirming the validity of everything. I’ve seen enough paternity test court shows to know that everyone can be convinced beyond a doubt and then the DNA results are read and it’s not at all what it seemed. People can look alike and act alike but it can mean nothing. People can swear they are related or not related but when you are looking at it scientifically, DNA tells all. And so it was decided, together we opted to look into DNA testing to know for a fact if we were or were not in fact biological siblings.

DNA testing has come a long way. Many people are familiar with the large DNA databases where you can submit your own DNA and find out about your heritage and genealogy. While that is a wonderful service, it provides comparison across a vast sample of people and we were only concerned with two. We also wanted to know detailed specifics of our percentages of relation if any at all and we wanted to work directly with someone who could assist us through the entire testing process from start to finish.We needed something more, something better and I was determined to find one that would fit our needs. I chose a DNA testing lab that is AABB Accredited, which means they are held to the highest standards of accuracy and proficiency in DNA testing. The DNA test that Lee and I were taking would be tested in the same laboratory as all of their legal DNA tests with the same level of accuracy. Additionally they are an affiliate of Universal Forensic Laboratory, American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Their tests boast 99.99% accuracy and results are tested twice to ensure the results are valid. They test 24 DNA markers which is the highest in the industry. Once I had researched, we both agreed this was the best match for us. The great part about this lab is that they offered a specific sibling/half sibling DNA test and since we lived in two different states, they shipped to our own individual locations. 

The process was quite simple. Once we selected which DNA test we wanted and where we needed each test kit to go, I placed the order. I received an email receipt confirmation. Within 24 hours an email was sent to both myself and Lee advising us that our DNA testing kits were being shipped by FedEx and included tracking info. Both our kits arrived at their respective destinations the next day. I opened my kit and carefully read the directions. This DNA testing uses swabbing of the insides of the cheeks. I followed the directions and completed the test. Then, I followed the remaining instructions on how to properly package and return the test kit. During that time I pondered what the results might be, and what impact they would have. I let Lee know that I got my test and I completed it and then I let him know when I mailed it. The kit came with a prepaid FedEx Express envelope with tracking so once I handed that over to the FedEx employee, I knew I could follow the progress of the package with the tracking. Once the DNA kits are received at the lab, they send an email notifying you and then you get results in 1-3 business days. We had ordered the kits on May 26th, received them May 27th, and I had taken mine to FedEx to return on May 28th which was a Friday. Memorial Day was Monday May 31st, and they notified us they received our samples on Thursday June 3rd. We were also assigned a DNA representative to help us through the rest of the process. I looked at the calendar and pondered the odds of some miraculous testing result coming in 24 hours but I knew that was not likely to happen. Because testing is done on business days and we were headed into the weekend I realized I would probably be seeing results the following week. At this point, what was a few more days anyway? Who was I kidding?! What was a few more days? I wanted to know. I really wanted to know. Friday came and went with no correspondence from the lab which was not surprising all things considered. I embraced the weekend and yet had that lingering question of DNA hovering in the back of my mind.

Monday June 7th arrived and as 5:00pm approached I just knew that it would be yet another day before I would find out the results. And then I got an email notification on my phone from the lab advising me that my confidential DNA result report was attached to the email. Additionally, our DNA representative was available to go over results on the phone if there were any questions. I had not even clicked on the link to open the report but I was literally shaking and trembling. This was it. This was going to tell me factually and scientifically if I had a biological sibling and if it was Lee. This was really it. I hesitated. It was a weird feeling. I was thinking about how I had been on this journey for 9 years searching on and off and I was thinking of what I had been through to get to this point and here I am. I had thought so much about the search and now here is this moment of truth and I’m nervous for the unveiling. I wavered between anxiety and excitement. I knew that Lee had received the same email and I wondered if he had read the results yet. I clicked the link and the results came into view. 

I was shaking again and my eyes were scanning the results faster than my brain was able to comprehend what I was reading. I quickly glanced at the time and realized that if I didn’t call now and try to connect with our DNA representative, I would have to wait until the next day because the close of the business day was approaching quickly. I felt I read the results correctly but I wanted confirmation from an expert who could explain the results in detail to me. I dialed her direct number and thankfully she was available. She pulled up my report number and she went over the entire test results with me. It was actually pretty astounding. I was able to see all of the Markers that were tested and compared on the Data Table. It’s pretty remarkable. Maybe it’s because I’m into this kind of technology and DNA but it truly is fascinating. Some of the statistics were a bit confusing so that was why it was so helpful having our DNA representative walking me through and explaining every single thing in detail making sure I understood. It was quite educational actually. In a way it’s a surreal experience because one part of me was so hyper focused on the scientific DNA of it all and another part of me was emotionally processing what all of the results meant. Nine years of wondering, nine  years of searching, nine years had cultivated into this moment of truth. And the truth…the conclusion and the statistics determined that Lee and I share a probability of being half siblings at 99.94%.

Lee is my brother.

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

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