34 "Nightmare" Stories People Shared From Taking DNA Tests Like 23andMe

    "That’s when it hit me...my grandfather cheated on my grandmother who was unable to have a child of her own."

    We recently rounded up a bunch of horror stories from people's experiences with DNA tests like 23andMe. The responses were so overwhelming from the BuzzFeed Community that we decided to do a part two. Here's what they shared:

    Note: Some stories contain mention of rape.

    1. "I found my dad's biological mother this way — she said she had a baby and they took him away quickly and told her he had died but she had always felt that something wasn't right. so, essentially, my dad had been stolen and sold to his adoptive parents. She was so lovely and I'm so glad I found her before she died a few months later."


    2. "I was given the test as a gift. I took it not thinking my whole life was a lie. Well, I found out my mom lied about the man she told me was actually my dad. The 'real' dad was in his 30s and screwing a 15-year-old. I basically found out he sleeps around and has quite a few kids. They all knew about each other but I just found out. Also, turns out, I went to high school with my half-sister and never knew it."


    3. "My mother and I did our DNA tests together and then she swiftly made me her account manager and never logged back on (she was just not interested, she did it for me). So, I’m paying the monthly fee, I’m looking at my dad's side, and all looks normal. I walked away for about a year only to come back to a ton of messages from cousins. One of those cousins connected to my family tree and I saw my grandfather and a lady who looked like my mother's twin sister. I dug deeper and saw two birth records — both with the same name and born in a hospital in New York City. I then found a birth record for my mom from another hospital in New Jersey with my grandparents' name as birth parents and that’s when it hit me...my grandfather cheated on my grandmother who was unable to have a child of her own."

    "After the delivery of the twins, they split them up, and my mother was raised by her father. Her twin sister, also named Susan, was raised by her biological mother.

    Oh, and if this isn’t weird enough, my oldest sister was not my dad's. Turns out my mom got pregnant by this Italian guy who had just moved to the US. He died a few years later, but my dad was on his way to the Vietnam War and figured he would probably die, so he decided he would help out my mom by marrying her before she delivered my sister. My sister was gutted when she found out and has not spoken to any of us since. I miss her."


    family photo at the hospital

    4. "When I did my ancestry, what I found wasn't a horror story to me, specifically, because it happened over a century ago. But the reason my great-great-great-grandpa left Pennsylvania for Ohio here in the US was because he had a warrant out for 'Fornication and Bastardry.' He got the neighbor girl pregnant and skipped town. Also, his dad had been arrested for having an affair with his boss's wife (he got fined, and she went to jail ugh.) They also sold stolen goods together."


    5. "My daughter had been wanting a 23andMe DNA kit for a while and I kept putting it off. I decided to give her one for Christmas and found out that I had two half-siblings. Both from my dad. One is older than my brother. My dad was a teenager who never knew one of them existed because she was given up for adoption. She had been trying to meet my dad and contacted him a few times. He refuses to meet her. The other is younger than me, conceived through an affair. My dad will not admit anything and pretends they don’t exist. I will never feel the same about my dad."


    6. "I always felt like I didn’t look like my dad or sister growing up. When my sister was 38 she went on 23andMe and discovered our dad doesn't share our DNA. In fact, our parents hid the fact that we were donor-conceived, and life began to make sense when my mom told me at 35. I discovered the donor on 23andMe. Highly successful man. Extremely nice and welcoming. We still text to this day. I’ll meet him eventually. I have a ton of half-siblings all over the US. Mostly males, but a few females. All successful and super cool. This started as a shock and horror story, but ended as a sense of relief and understanding."


    old polaroids on the table

    7. "Upon my mother passing away from cancer, I learned my father was not my biological dad! My mother had kept this skeleton in the closet for many years. So, I ordered a DNA test and found some relatives who led me to my biological father, who lives in Alabama. I received my biological father’s number from an Aunt whom I located through DNA testing and I made the 'hello, dad' telephone call. During our conversation I asked my biological dad if he would be willing to do two more DNA tests with me (different companies), he said yes. The results came back 99.999%. It was him, my biological dad. Soon after that, my family and I went to Alabama to meet my biological dad. He said he did know my mother when he was 19 years old and that they had been in a relationship."


    8. "Four years ago, at the behest of my daughter, I took the Ancestry.com test. She was building a family tree for her sons. We came to find out that she was not, in fact, my bio daughter, and my three grandsons were not my grandsons. It turns out that the woman I married 47 years previously and divorced 2.5 years later was knowingly carrying another man’s child. It matters not as my daughter is still and will always remain my daughter. My daughter has since located her bio-father and has a good relationship with him."


    9. "I found out (when I was 53), that the man I thought was my biological father is not. The funny thing is that I guess I always kind of subconsciously knew this. I even jokingly asked my mom once if she was sure he was my dad. She laughed and said yes, but I realize now she was really nervous when she said it. There’s also the fact that I look nothing like my three younger sisters, but they all greatly resemble each other. I’m kind of happy I did not find this out when I was younger, or before I had my own kids, because it really knocked me on my ass to find out I’ve been lied to my whole life. Now I have to figure out how to bring it up to my mom (I assume my dad knows, but until I’m sure, I won’t disrespect him by asking)."


    father and daughter on the beach

    10. "Not my story, but my husband’s. He took a DNA test and was told he had a close match — possibly a first cousin but most likely a sibling. Turns out his father was not a very good human. He raped the roommate of his girlfriend at the time and then just disappeared from both their lives, leaving the roommate pregnant. My husband’s half-sister does not want their father to know she exists but I would love to whisper that horrible truth into his ear right before he dies. I want him to know that we know what he did."


    11. "The mother of my supposed child informed me I was not the father of a child that she had me raise without her. Three DNA tests confirmed it. I was completely devastated. This happened about a year ago to me."


    12. "My dad gave me some money for my 42nd birthday. I have always wanted to find out exactly what my ethnicity was. At 42 years old I found out the man I thought was my dad my whole life was not my biological father. I have never been more shocked in my life. I cried for days. I tried to talk to my mom and was met with absolutely no answers. I ended up doing my own research and shocked her with who I thought my biological father was. Needless to say, the look on her face was all the proof I needed. In the end, blood doesn’t make you family. My dad is the best dad anyone could ask for and will always be my dad. Moms, don’t ever lie to your kids, and don’t use the excuse that you lied to protect them."


    father and daughter asleep on the couch

    13. "My poor mom had her life upended at 60 years old when someone reached out explaining that he’d gotten his unsealed birth certificate and they had the same mom. Unfortunately, the father was unidentified. My mom did all her detective work (born at the same hospital, lived in the same area, etc.) which triggered a memory of her mom being pregnant when my mom was about 5. Then my mom said, 'My mom didn’t come home with a baby she told me he died.' Let’s just say finding out about this half-brother was only the beginning…"

    "Well, my nana put him up for adoption because he was African American and her husband was not. My mom confronted my nana and she denied even REMEMBERING being pregnant and giving birth to him! Well, she and her half-brother took a 23andMe and my mom learned her biological father was not the man she believed her whole life to be and that she was not German but Asian. Yet again, nana denies it and says she doesn’t remember. The man my mom thought was her father died 25 years ago and her stepmom died weeks before learning this."


    14. "I always knew I was adopted but didn’t know any details. After my parents died, I decided to take an Ancestry test. Found out who my birth parents were. (Birth mother is still living). She told me she didn’t know the birth father’s name. She said he must have been one of the group of men that raped her in a park."


    15. "Grew up as an only child. My son did 23andMe then called me to inquire about two names that matched him. The dates of birth were closer to my birth than his DOB. Did a DNA test and matched to my son and to the others. Digging further, I finally asked my elderly mom, she fessed to an affair while married. Now I have three sisters and two brothers from two other women. Our bio dad was busy while married and outside the marriage. Took several months to get my head wrapped around having siblings. Met my three sisters (from two different mothers). They are awesome and I hope our relationship grows."


    polaroid of a mom and baby

    16. "I took a DNA test to find out more about my family history and roots. When I got my results, family members that I grew up knowing as 'full blood' family turned out to only be half related. As I dug in, I found out that my maternal grandmother had nine kids with at least five different men. Three of the kids were given away and two only came into her care after the father unexpectedly died. Seeing this jungle, I turned to my father's side. I was closely matched with people that I had never heard of. Turns out the man my father knew as his dad was not his dad after all."

    "My paternal grandmother had five kids with at least three different men, one who was married and had a whole other family. My dad didn't accept this. Given my mother's side, he questioned if I was his even though I matched to family on his mom's side. He then took his own test and it confirmed that I am his and his dad was not his biological dad. The amount of mental stress while waiting for results was horrible! 

    The positive is that I have gained new family members who are lovely. The downside is my tree is a jungle and no one will talk about it. My family acts like it's classified information and my maternal grandmother will take the information to her grave. My paternal grandparents already passed so I will never have answers."


    17. "I took an Ancestry test kit two years ago and found out that my brother and I have a half-sibling. Apparently, my dad left a memory of himself when he was over in Vietnam during the war. My dad being 100% Irish sired a 50% Vietnamese and 50% Irish lad. I have never told my brother what I found, and my dad died in 2015 so I can't talk to him about it, but I occasionally google the name and look at all the images to see if I can see any similarity at all in the photos of men with the guy's name. So much time has gone by now, I am afraid to tell my brother, as he flies off the handle over everything, and has extremely conservative views that are 100% different than mine. I would love to meet the guy, my brother would I'm sure not. My mom laughed about it and advised me not to tell my brother, so here I sit, hoping he never takes a DNA test kit himself."


    18. "It turned out my paternal grandfather was married four times and had multiple kids before he married my grandmother. They kept it quiet and never told my dad or his brothers. We were not expecting matches scattered across the country! Most of my aunts and uncles are, understandably, quite bitter and want nothing to do with us, but I have a lovely uncle in Texas now! After hearing from multiple people that I have a doppelganger, I discovered I have a cousin living in the same small city I recently moved to. We look incredibly alike!"


    19. "Not really a horror story so much as an annoyance story. For as long as I can remember, I was told my Mom's side had some Cherokee ancestry. I now know this is pretty common for white people to believe, even if it's not true. I took a 23andMe test and...absolutely no Native American ancestry. None. My mom, grandma, uncle, and everyone on that side refuses to believe it. Some of them have stories of meeting a Cherokee 'grandmother' back in the 1960s. But my DNA says otherwise. I think they all could get DNA tests and still not believe it."


    20. "I took an ancestry DNA test on a whim. I learned at 50 years old that I’m not Puerto Rican, like I thought, I have eight siblings, and my biological father died before I could meet him."


    21. "Mine confirmed my dad isn't my father. I won't pretend I was okay with this and didn't have a complete meltdown, but I have a great dad, so I know I'm blessed. I'm still hoping one day it will shed a bit of light on who is though, it would be nice to know."


    polaroid of a son and dad

    22. "Not a true horror story, since I had already been told the dude I thought was my bio paternal parent wasn’t about ten years prior (I’m no longer in contact with either side of my family for various reasons) but I took a 23andMe and ended up finding a cousin which led to me finding out who my biological dad actually was. Turns out, it was the man my mother was always adamant she’d never been with, despite me looking just like him. (Fun fact, my half-sister also looks like another man our mother always denied being with, and not her allegedly bio dad either.)"


    23. "I did the 23andMe DNA test because my mother was adopted and I wanted to know her family health background. I learned a lot that was interesting and surprising but not unexpected. However, one day I got a message from a first cousin once removed that I had no idea about. Turns out my first cousin had roamed around and got someone pregnant and had a son with her. Apparently, he was put up for adoption and that’s why he did the DNA test to see if he could find his father. We finally figured out who his father was and he got to meet him just before he passed away at age 60. The best part for me was to find out that he was gay and had just gotten married. I was happy to finally find someone else in my family that's gay and not a conservative."


    24. "A neighbor thought a DNA test for the whole family would be a great gift. Unfortunately, no. She handled all the results and was shocked to find out her nephew was actually her stepson. Oops, her husband had an affair with her brother's wife."


    old photo of a family outside in their front yard holding their baby

    25. "Where do I start? My mother was adopted. I always knew that. My parents divorced when I was six years old and my brother was three. My father remarried and had a daughter with his new wife...let's call my half-sister Tina. Time goes on, like it does, we are all grown up. My mother passes away. Exactly four years later, on the same day, my father passes away. Tina and I begin to send texts and keep in touch now and then. One day Tina sends me a text and says that she took one of those DNA tests and thinks she found a half-sister of our father. She then tells me that she thinks she found a half-brother to us."

    "She sent a picture of the guy and he looks exactly like my father. My mind was blown. So, now I'm interested and want to know about my mother's side of the family. I take a DNA test myself. A few weeks later I got an email saying my results were ready. I open it and don't see anyone I know. I expected not to know most of it because my mother was adopted. But, my half-sister isn't on my list of relatives. Neither is this half-brother she found. Turns out...my dad isn't my dad!!!! Well, now what?!?!?!? Both of my parents are deceased so there is no one to ask questions!! I have reached out to a few people who are high on my list. I've been able to establish some of my mother's side and a few distant relatives on what would be my father's side. Still don't know who my bio father is...not even close to knowing. So, I take a different DNA test to see if I match with anyone through that one. That one shows that I have nieces, and come to find out, my mother had two babies before she had me and my brother!! So, she had two children, and then got pregnant with me...told my dad I was his. So, I have a brother who turned into a half-brother, a half-sister who turned into a friend, a half-sister, and a half-brother who have no idea that I exist because it's their kids that are on the DNA site, not them. So, yeah...go take a DNA test. Maybe you are related to me. Good luck!"


    26. "I received a 23andMe kit for Christmas one year because I don’t know much about my family history (divorced parents, absent father, a mother with mental health problems). I found out that I had a secret cousin that no one from the family ever knew about. He was 40, which would’ve made my never-been-married aunt around 18. He’d been adopted at birth and had light contact with both bio parents as an adult, but never knew anything about the rest of his family. He contacted me first, wanting to get to know me and we talked off and on for about a month. One day, he called and said that he had told his bio mom (my aunt) about finding me and she requested that I never mention his existence to my father (I’ve been no contact with him for the last 15 years, and his parents/other brother are all dead). I haven’t heard from my cousin since."


    27. "My aunt did the test then confronted my dad about six other nieces and nephews she didn’t know about besides my two cousins and me. He told her he donated sperm in the '90s. Told me I’m the only kid he really cares about. I’ve gone no contact with him since, but that sounds like a convenient cover for cheating on my mom. He says she told him to because women her age (40 at the time) had a hard time conceiving."


    family on the side of the road posing by their car

    28. "I come from a family of four children, three girls, and one boy. My brother unfortunately passed away 20 years ago but he had a daughter so we have an adult niece. Growing up, I always noticed how I did not look like my siblings so I kind of always had a hunch that maybe my father was not my father. Last year I decided to do a DNA test on Ancestry and convinced my sisters, and our niece to do the same. Turns out I was right not only do I not have the same father as them, but none of us have the same father… We are all half-siblings. Our mother passed away several years ago and no one is telling us anything. Talk about a surprise! We’re okay with it now."


    29. "My mom bought all of us 23andMe kits as a Mother’s Day gift for her about six years ago. My dad was adopted and died in his 50s so she wanted to know any medical red flags that there were. We got the results back and the relatives thing showed a paternal grandmother, half-uncle, and two cousins! Of course, I messaged them immediately because I have some health problems. Well, my cousin messaged me back a few years later..."

    "She asked me a bunch of questions about where my dad was from and things that would confirm that he was related to her. Her dad told her that I was 'crazy' and to just ignore me. Then I dropped the bomb about my medical issues and that there is a tiny chance it’s genetic. Since my dad was adopted and died so young they had no indication to run the tests they needed to and I almost died. I know my medical history on my mom's side so I feel pretty confident it was on my dad's side and I would feel terrible if something happened to them because I didn’t share. She said she’d message me again sometime and it’s been a few years, but my adopted grandparents were wonderful! I have no real need to connect with biological relatives that didn’t want us. Medical history is super real though."


    30. "My mother-in-law passed before I ever dated my husband, but I had met her one surviving sibling. Was told their dad was Italian and their mom German. My MIL's maiden name was very Italian, and she grew up in an Italian neighborhood, cooked Italian food well, etc. I am first-generation Italian and the big joke was that my very Scottish-looking husband (his dad is 100% Scot) was actually 1/4 Italian. A few years ago, we bought my husband a DNA test for Father's Day. When the results came in, there was the 50% Scottish. The 1/4 German. And some Russian and Irish. And ZERO percent Italian ancestry. My MIL and her siblings have all passed, but it’s obvious her father was not the man she thought he was!"


    31. "In our mother's and father's families, there were three marriages among the siblings. Their unions produced 24 children. Since all the DNA was the same from all family members, when my sister had her DNA tested, the results said that she had 23 brothers and sisters and one half-sister. Apparently, my dad's sister's youngest child had a different father than my mom's brother."


    32. "My aunt who we all joked was the 'black sheep' of the family because she always got into trouble and looked nothing like her five other siblings did a DNA test only to discover she has a different father than all her siblings. She discovered this less than a year after her mother (my grandma) had passed away so nobody got to hear my grandma's side of things. From what I understand no one is surprised because my grandparents didn’t have the best marriage and my grandmom left for a different man (not my aunt's father) when my dad was young because it was a very unhappy marriage. I’m not quite sure what my grandfather's thoughts on all this are but it doesn’t seem that he has changed his fatherly role to my aunt or his grandfather's role towards her three babies."


    33. "My sister took a DNA test and found her best friend of over 12 years was our second cousin."


    34. Finally, "Not necessarily a 'horror story,' but certainly a bit strange. A few weeks ago, my dad asked me to look up his uncle because he died before my dad could meet him but he always heard so about him as a kid, especially how much his father respected him."

    "So, I looked up my dad’s grandparents (my great-grandparents) and found census records listing their children. I found my grandfather and the name of my great-uncle….and 10 other children. Apparently, my dad’s father had 11 siblings!!! We still don’t know if he just wasn’t close with them, if they died very young, were perhaps left in France (where my grandfather immigrated from). My dad and I are currently still doing research and trying to figure out what happened to the other 10 kids."


    Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    Do you have a DNA or 23andMe "horror story" you want to share? Tell us in the comments below or use this totally anonymous form here, and your story may be featured in a future BuzzFeed Community post or video!