Looking at your genetic data might uncover information that some people find surprising. Some information can be relatively benign and even amusing. At other times, the information you learn can have profound implications for both you and your family. 23andMe cannot provide you with an exhaustive list of all the unexpected things you might uncover during your genetic exploration, but in general these things fall into three main categories.
Genetic information can also tell you things about your ancestry and origins, and therefore about your relationship to other groups of people across the globe. Sometimes this information will confirm things you already know about your particular heritage or origins. At other times, this information might surprise you, and you might learn that you share a genetic history with unexpected groups.
Different people feel differently about this kind of information; some people are excited about these new connections and others take more time to integrate this information into their sense of self. As with much of the information you might uncover on your genetic voyage, how this new information makes you feel will depend on your personal viewpoint.
Because our genes are part of our family heritage, genetic information can sometimes reveal things about our biological relationships to other family members. In the process of learning about your genetic makeup and comparing that with others, you may discover relatives who were previously unknown to you. Your genetic profile can lead you to other, distant branches of your family tree.
Genetic information can also reveal that someone you thought you were related to is not your biological relative. This happens most frequently in the case of paternity.
Individuals who have donated sperm or egg(s), or are donor-conceived themselves should note that participating in the DNA Relatives feature may reveal previously unknown relationships including the potential of close biological relatives (such as a biological father, biological child, or siblings). Some individuals may be open to exploring new biological relationships and choose to opt in to the DNA Relatives feature, while others may wish to preserve their anonymity by choosing not to participate in the DNA Relatives feature.
The 23andMe DNA Relatives feature is an optional feature and requires customers to opt-in to the feature to access it. It is a popular, interactive feature that allows you to find and connect with genetic relatives and see specific DNA segments you share with them. The DNA Relatives feature can identify relatives on any branch of your recent family tree by taking advantage of the autosomal chromosomes—the 22 chromosomes that are passed down from your ancestors on both sides of your family—and the X chromosome.
Because genetic information is hereditary, knowing something about your genetics also tells you something about those closely related to you. Your family may or may not want to know this information as well, and relationships with others can be affected by learning about your DNA.
Everyone has different tolerances and preferences for learning information. You might be surprised by a family member who would prefer not to know something you feel is important to share. At other times, you may learn something about yourself or your family that you would prefer to keep private. You may find yourself having to weigh sharing such information with other family members against your own desire for privacy - or their desire not to know.
If you have discovered something you did not anticipate, we strongly suggest reviewing our Unexpected Relationship resource for information on how to begin processing your results.