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FTDNA screwed up my life

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  • FTDNA screwed up my life

    I had spent 1,000's of hours and $$$$$ researching my genealogy. My mother's father's family was especially interesting. Well documented lines back to England with a coat of arms, documented at Jamestown, blah blah blah.

    Then I did the dna test. Come to find out, my mother is the result of a non-paternity event. As I was discovering this, I was becoming more and more confused as to why I couldn't find any dna matches. I began to consider that there was a problem and talked to my mother about it, which put her into absolute gyrations. I figured it out by triangulation. My 1st cousin and I only shared half of what we should. I shared zero with another 2nd cousin, but my first cousin and them shared dna.

    I asked my mother to do a dna test, which she has now refused saying that at her age she now doesn't want to know. This is the flip side of dna testing. All they advertize are the good things. Never saw this one coming. What a shock.

  • #2
    Actually FTDNA did not screw up your life. They didn't force you to purchase a test, they merely reported the results of the test you purchased. You are supposed to be aware that this can happen any time anyone tests their DNA. If you're afraid of what you might find out, avoid DNA testing.

    It happened to me. 10 years of research down the drain - hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours of research!!! I was disgusted for a day or two, then curiosity kicked in and I started to try to unravel the mystery. I didn't get back many generations before I ran into two stubborn brick walls. If I could only get past those, it looks like my new tree would be a lot more interesting than my old one.

    By the way, even if one of your ancestors had a coat of arms, you wouldn't have any right to it.

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    • #3
      Standard disclaimer that FTDNA should emphasize

      I issue a disclaimer to my potential project members: what your learn from DNA cannot be unlearned, and although mistakes are possible, you may well get results that will turn your life upside down. It is better to know than not to know. But I also tell them: being a member of a family has nothing to do with DNA.
      Being associated with armigerous families (or worse, "royal" ones) suggests that the opportunity for illegitimacy and idiocy is much greater. Be careful about what you think you want to inherit.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Hans View Post
        All they advertize are the good things.
        You expect them to advertise bad things? That would be some pretty terrible marketing.

        I understand you're having trouble coming to grips with this, but FTDNA did nothing wrong here. It's not their fault your mother was not the biological daughter of her believed father. It's not their fault you chose to take a DNA test. You're just upset, and looking for someone to blame, and the company is a convenient option. Hopefully, you'll get passed that and come to terms with what you have learned.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Germanica View Post
          You expect them to advertise bad things? That would be some pretty terrible marketing.

          I understand you're having trouble coming to grips with this, but FTDNA did nothing wrong here. It's not their fault your mother was not the biological daughter of her believed father. It's not their fault you chose to take a DNA test. You're just upset, and looking for someone to blame, and the company is a convenient option. Hopefully, you'll get passed that and come to terms with what you have learned.
          I think there should be a warning. The drug companies have to tell you that the pill to make you feel better could kill you, among other things.

          That being said, I didn't get what I was expecting on the first go round, but it has been a whole lot more interesting what I have found out.

          Jack

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          • #6
            Do what I did. Get curious!!! Okay, all those people you researched weren't your ancestors. So, who were your ancestors? Whoever they were, THEIR DNA is in every cell of your body!

            So, your mother doesn't want to know. Respect her wish. Don't tell her what you discover. I recommend that you test yourself at Ancestry.com, and at 23andMe if you can afford both. See if you can find some close matches and contact them to try to find out if they know anything (very tactfully, as an unknown close relative may be a shock to them too).

            And work with the trees of whatever close matches you have. Study census records, etc. to see who was living close to your grandmother at the time your mother was born.

            Unfortunately, since it's your mother, you can't use Y-DNA to get a surname. I could, and my cousin matched Hampton, and there was a Hampton living right next door to my 2nd great-grandmother. Autosomal DNA testing revealed that he was my mother's ancestor.

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            • #7
              No, FTDNA did not "screw up your life". Your mother did. But anyone's life is only as screwed up as they allow it to be damaged by others.

              Your mother was, and still is in denial. Denial is a form of dishonesty, often based upon guilt, shame and embarrassment. It tends to become habitual and multi-generational in families, unless the cycle is broken. It's up to you to do that. You can't change her, but you can change the way in which you relate to her.

              It is up to you to decide how to deal with your mother while she is still alive. No one can tell you how to do this, nor how to encourage her to admit whatever she knows. Focusing on and working toward that end might be more important to you and/or future generations in your family than a discovery of who your ancient ancestors were.

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              • #8
                Carpathian:

                If I understand correctly, his mother doesn't know anything at all. The DNA test just revealed that her father was not the man she believed was her father. That upset her and she's just not interested in finding out who her real father was. I think that's understandable, but I don't think it should prevent Hans from finding out who his true ancestors were. It's a completely new journey of discovery.

                When my cousin's Y-DNA test turned up the non-paternity event in our family, it wasn't so devastating because it was my mother's great-grandmother's infidelity and all the people to whom in might have made any difference were dead. It didn't bother my mother that her grandfather, whom she barely knew, was illegitimate.

                However, it destroyed one branch of our tree and that was the branch I had put the most time and money in. That hurt!

                Now, in it's place I have James W. Hampton "Poet Laureate of Martin Co., IN", whose poetry a lot of eighth-graders could probably top (which is probably why no copies of his book seem to have survived) judging by the one poem that appeared in a newspaper. And I have his father, a blacksmith who drank and was often in a poor asylum, and his mother, who divorced the father for taking to drink around 1850 and abandoning his family 3 years later. And a lot of mysteries!!! Like why was the father not in Martin Co., IN with his family on the 1850 census, but in the city of Louisville, KY, in what appears to be a boarding house where there was also a free black with the surname Hampton. And why does the date he was away in the city of Louisville coincide with the date his wife said he took to drink??? And who in the world were his parents? And who were his wife's parents? All I can find out in 6 years of research is that they married in Clark Co., KY on 6 Apr 1831. So the NPE has given me nothing but brick walls. And DNA hasn't gotten me anywhere either.

                But Hans might have better opportunities because he is dealing with closer generations.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by georgian1950 View Post
                  I think there should be a warning. The drug companies have to tell you that the pill to make you feel better could kill you, among other things.
                  I don't agree, we're not talking about anything that will do you physical harm here. And the potential consequences of taking a DNA test should be obvious to anyone. It's a DNA test - what do you think it does? If there are secrets your DNA might reveal, it's blatantly obvious that taking a DNA test might do just that. Most likely, the OP is not upset because he was unaware that if there were secrets, a DNA was capable of revealing them, I'll bet he understood that, but rather he's probably upset because he never thought there would be secrets in his family. That always happens to someone else.

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                  • #10
                    Also, I'm of the belief that just because you don't genetically descend from a branch doesn't mean they aren't a part of your family history or that you shouldn't research them. I found out through DNA that my grandfather was not the biological son of his father (my great grandfather). I am still researching the non-bio father's ancestry though, and the bio ancestry. Now I just have more to research, which is a great thing if you ask me.

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                    • #11
                      My great-grandfather's siblings simply became half-siblings. Plus his true father had children by his wife, giving him additional half-siblings. Not that it matters. He was put in an orphanage at the age of 5, after his mother died and, as an adult, he didn't remember that he had any siblings at all.

                      I kept my research on his supposed father's family, but I don't do additional research on it.

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                      • #12
                        Your family is whoever raised you

                        So your mother's family is whoever raised her.

                        Now you have two family trees. One, the cultural family tree that you have been researching and, two, the biological or genetic family tree that you are about to discover using DNA.

                        Rejoice in your richness!

                        ... Martin

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                        • #13
                          I just had the same thing happen but it was my maternal grandmother instead of mother. Familyfinder showed that descendants of her siblings were only showing half the DNA as expected on matches. In addition, my mother was getting matches in the 200 centimorgan range on her maternal side with a family that her cousin's were't matching with at all. This proved to me that her siblings were really half-siblings since she had to have had a different father.

                          That fact invalidated a tree that went back to the Mayflower and represented a lot of time wasted in research. I see this as an FTDNA success story though. It discovered an event that is not documented anywhere in the records and would not have been discovered by any other means than DNA testing. It took away a huge branch of my family tree but also gave me the clues to replace it with an entirely new tree that is documented back just as far as the original.

                          This thing doesn't just happen in DNA genealogy though. I requested the Civil War pension records of what should have been my third great grandfather. They document that only his two sons were his children and that the daughter which I descend through was from a different father and then doesn't name who that person was so creates a genealogical dead end and invalidates the tree in the same way that the DNA test did.

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                          • #14
                            I would never have found out without DNA testing that my tree was incorrect. I had researched documents carefully. Despite how bad I felt at first, I'm very happy that I did learn the truth. The amazing thing is how many times you hear of DNA destroying family trees here on this forum. Apparently we like to believe our ancestors were saints, but it appears that infidelity was quite common, even in times and places that we consider "puritanical".

                            I don't want a tree full of false ancestors! Apparently most people do want just that, as they are very happy to blindly copy trees off the internet and are not at all concerned if one of their ancestors was born 100 years after the death of his or her parents.

                            Of course, DNA has it's limitations because we don't receive DNA from all of our ancestors. But, though DNA testing destroyed one branch of my tree, it has verified others.
                            Last edited by MoberlyDrake; 4 July 2017, 08:00 PM.

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                            • #15
                              [QUOTE=MoberlyDrake;441486]Carpathian:

                              If I understand correctly, his mother doesn't know anything at all.
                              Moberly,

                              Read Hans's actual statements more carefully:

                              I asked my mother to do a dna test, which she has now refused saying that at her age she now doesn't want to know.
                              That IS denial. Not wanting to know is an expression of DENIAL, as by definition of what constitutes denial.

                              Also this statement:

                              I began to consider that there was a problem and talked to my mother about it, which put her into absolute gyrations.
                              That (the description of "gyrations") is a strong word, and suggests that she knows more than she can face, or is willing to admit.

                              How Hans deals with his mother and what she knows, and is or isn't willing to reveal to him, is up to both of them to resolve. We can only go by what Hans has written here. But if he is stating it accurately, there is denial apparent on the part of his mother.

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