How much do you know about your family tree? Could you name every branch going back for generations, or do you only know the names of a few leaves hanging close to you? Thankfully, whether your ancestors kept meticulous records or you were adopted and relocated halfway across the world as an infant, DNA technology has become incredibly advanced, and we all have access to our backgrounds through simply submitting a mouthful of saliva.
Unfortunately, however, the results of a DNA test are not always what curious participants had hoped for. After optimistically submitting their samples hoping to find out precisely which Eastern European cuisine they should be preparing on holidays, some people receive their results and are left questioning everything they know about their family members. We’ve gathered some of the most amusing, shocking and upsetting discoveries made from taking DNA tests, that have been shared on the 23andMe subreddit, and listed them below for you to read. I sincerely hope you don’t have any devastating stories of your own from having tests like this done, but if you do, know that you’re not alone.
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Keep reading to also find an interview with host of the DNA Surprises Podcast, Alexis Hourselt, and then if you’re interested in reading even more stories about DNA tests revealing scandalous family secrets, we recommend checking out this Bored Panda article next.
#1 Met My Biological Sister Today! (Both Adopted From China By Different American Families)
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23andMe has taken the world by storm with its innovative approach to educating consumers about their history. The company, which was launched in 2006, has sold over 12 million kits and has inspired the popular subreddit which has over 85k members. On the subreddit, users commonly discuss family problems and discoveries, ask questions and seek help, discuss their health reports, share PSAs and converse about their test results. And while some users have fun sharing their new-found knowledge, others use the page to seek comfort when they learn upsetting information.
Scrolling through the community, you can find many stories posted by users who suddenly are wondering why one parent’s test came back so differently from theirs or why the story they have been told their entire life about their origin does not seem to add up anymore. And while human error is always a possibility, for the most part, DNA tests don’t lie. I would not recommend taking one if you are scared of what family secrets might be revealed.
#2 Today Is My Dad’s 60th Birthday. This Saturday, He Met His Biological Mother For The Very First Time
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#3 A Happy Ending!
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The creator of 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki, sat down with CNBC in 2018 to provide some insight on the background of the company and what her goals were. She explained that in 2006, she abandoned her career in biotech investing to focus on the dream she had of putting individuals’ personal health data in the palm of their hands, all from a small saliva sample.
“I was always impressed by the eagerness of individuals to learn about their health and take action,” Wojcicki said. “They just needed the opportunity and time to learn and absorb.” In 2013, however, she encountered some issues with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration demanding she stop selling her kids until they were approved by the FDA. Finally, in 2018, 23andMe earned their seal of approval from the FDA, and Wojcicki was able to start marketing her kids to the general public yet again.
#4 A Relative Turned Out To Be A Half-Sister And Niece
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#5 They Found A Grandma They Didn’t Know They Had
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#6 For Christmas We Gave Uncle And His Wife 23 & Me
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23andMe can provide life-saving health information to consumers, as it was the first company to be approved to inform women of their breast cancer risk based on gene mutations, without requiring a doctor’s opinion. “Since our earliest days, we wanted to pioneer a path where people can get their genetic information directly and do not have to go through a physician or genetic counselor for access or interpretation,” Wojcicki told CNBC.
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Today, 23andMe is also approved to inform users of their risks for Celiac disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease as well. In fact, it can even tell prospective parents whether they might pass along the cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, hereditary hearing loss, or many other gene abnormalities. Although the site is most famous for users being genuinely curious about their backgrounds and wanting to understand themselves or their family histories better, it is also a game changer when it comes to understanding personal health risks.
#7 They Discovered Their Father Wasn’t Their Father
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#8 In Case You Didn’t See The News, 9,000 Year Old Cheddar Man Descendant
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#9 23andme Saved Mine And My Dads Life
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To learn more about the surprises that taking a DNA test can lead to, we reached out to Alexis Hourselt, host of the DNA Surprises Podcast. When asked what inspired her to launch this show, Alexis told Bored Panda, “I started DNA Surprises after experiencing my own NPE (non-paternal event). In July of 2021, I learned that the man who raised me is not my biological father—he’d unofficially adopted me when I was two months old. I also learned that I am not biracial white and Mexican, but white and African American. I decided to start the podcast to help others share their stories and feel less alone. This experience is very isolating, but sharing our stories helps us connect and heal.”
#10 Returned From Vacation With Family And This Was Waiting For Me From My Newly Found Biological Family. It Was My Mother’s Who Passed In The 70s. Her Family Has Been Looking For Me For 50 Years. Met Them All This Past October. Probably One Of The Most Important Christmas Gifts I Will Ever Receive
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#12 My Superior Ooga Booga Genes
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We also asked Alexis if she thinks that it is important for everyone to have a DNA test done. “Taking a DNA test is a very personal decision,” she says. “I’m glad I took mine because I’d rather know the truth, but that is not the case for all. Everyone who takes a test should be aware of possible outcomes.” She’s right. Even if you plan to only take a DNA test for fun, it is important to understand that there are always risks. If you find out something that you did not want to know, it may alter the course of your life or cause you to question your identity.
#13 100% Finnish
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#14 I Am The 1%
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#15 I Was Adopted In Mexico And Told All My Life I Was Mexican. All I Know Is I Might Have 8-10 Other Siblings And No Idea About My Birth Parents
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We also asked Alexis about some of the wildest stories she has heard from people who have taken DNA tests. “Racial shifts in identity like mine are always shocking,” she told Bored Panda. “I’ve spoken to people who thought they were white and ended up being half black and people who thought they were half black who ended up being half Jewish. I’ve spoken to someone who thought they were one hundred percent African American who turned out to be biracial like me. There are a lot of cross-cultural discoveries like this, and they deeply affect people.”
#16 You Can Call Me Ms. Worldwide
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#17 Just Met My Half Brother! 5 Years Apart, And Grew Up Only A Few Hours Away
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#18 Their Sister Dated A Secret Brother For Four Years
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“Some people end up having double NPEs (non-paternal events) or DNA surprises—they’ll learn their birth certificate father isn’t their dad and their mother shares the name of another man,” Alexis shared. “People start building relationships with the ‘bio dad’ only to learn that isn’t their father either. That double shock makes these stories even harder.”
“Another thing that can complicate DNA discoveries is endogamy—in some cultures or small communities cousins marry cousins,” Alexis explained. “I spoke to a guest who had family in Mexico, and endogamy made it extremely difficult to find her biological father.”
#19 Their Long-Lost Aunt Could Have A Health Condition
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#20 Family Secrets Exposed For Just One Easy Payment Of $99!
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#21 They Found Out Their Boyfriend Was Their Fourth Cousin
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“One of the biggest things people don’t think about in these situations is the medical history piece of DNA surprises,” Alexis added. “We spend our lives with half of our history being a lie—people inherit medical issues that they can’t explain because they don’t know where they come from.”
“This is also very common,” she says. “It’s estimated that 5 percent of the population has misattributed parentage, whether they know it or not. That translates to 16 million Americans. If all NPEs comprised a state, we’d be the fifth largest!”
If you’d like to hear even more crazy stories about DNA surprises or hear more about Alexis’ story, be sure to check out the DNA Surprises Podcast right here.
#22 They Found Out About Grandma’s Decades-Old Murder
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#23 Found Out I Have A Vietnamese 1st Cousin. My Grandpa Went To Vietnam For The War, Came Back, Had 8 Kids (My Dad), Come To Find Out Years Later I Have A Cousin That Moved To The States And I Had The Opportunity To Meet And Share Stories 🙂 Thanks 23andme
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#24 Honestly Can’t Say I Was That Surprised
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If you’re interested in having a DNA test done, Dr. Robert H. Shmerling of Harvard Medical School recommends you choose the right test for your personal goals. For example, if you are simply curious about your family history, 23andMe might be a good option. But if you are concerned about health risks and want to be sure you are not at high risk for certain medical issues, it might be better to have a more comprehensive test done by doctors. 23andMe only tests 24 gene variants, while other tests can include over 2,000. And in one study of over 4,500 participants, nearly 70% of them, including 94% of Black and 85% of Hispanic participants, would have missed important gene variants that present health risks had they only been tested through 23andMe.
#25 I Always Thought I Had Some Asian In Me … Turns Out I’m Just Really Native American
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#26 They Found Out They Were Adopted, 60 Years Later
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#27 Almost 23 Years Ago A Court-Ordered Paternity Test Said A Child Was Not Mine. Guess What???
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Is this list inspiring you to have your own DNA tests done? Whether you have tried 23andMe before or you have no interest in seeing your DNA results on paper, we hope you’re enjoying this list of shocking and amusing results from the service. Be sure to upvote the stories that you find most compelling, and then let us know in the comments if you have any personal experiences with DNA testing revealing family secrets. I’ve never taken one of these tests myself, but now I would be interested to know my results. Hopefully, it won’t lead to a panicked phone call to my mother…
#28 Almost Got The Whole Globe
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#29 Born In France To An Algerian Father And A Japanese Mother. My Parents Definetly Didnt Lie To Me Lol
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#30 They Had A Different Background Than They Thought
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#31 After 32 Years, I Finally Have Proof Of Who My Father Is. After 3 Decades Of Hearing My Mother Be Called A Liar, I Have Proof. My Father Was Murdered The Day I Was Born, My Grandparents Accused My Mom Of Lieing In Order To Get Money From Them. My Cousin Helped Me Prove It, And I’m So Grateful
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#32 Found Out I Had A Baby Sister!
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#33 Asian Parents Be Like
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#34 I’m An American With Immigrant Parents From Liberia And Poland. A Near Perfect 50/50 Split
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#35 A 23andme Fairytale – Found My Real Dad And He’s More Than I Could Ask For In A Father
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#36 On The Journey To Find My Biodad, I Learned I’m Almost 1/3 Japanese + My Mom Was Wrong About Who My Dad Is. I’m 26 + Just Last Year Hunted Down The Man My Mom Guaranteed Was My Biodad For The First Time. One Negative Paternity Test Later + Lots Of Confusion, I Tried This. Now We’re More Confused
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#37 Mom May Have Had An Affair
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#38 Great-Grandma Had A Complicated Love Life
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#39 He Responded This Morning. We Talked For 3½ Hours. He’s Also Adopted But Was Able To Answer Lots Of Biological Questions
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#40 They Found An Unknown Grandfather
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#41 My Results! Oh And I Found My Long Lost Sibling
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#42 Bio Dad Found. I’m Done. Overjoyed To Finally Be Able To Stop Searching! Thank You 23&me!
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#43 My Parents Were Mad I Spent $100 On Something They Already Knew. (South Indian Results)
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#44 My Palestinian Grandma
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#45 My Parents Are Now Divorcing Because Of My Results 🙁
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#46 Dad: You Really Like To Waste Money On Obvious Results Aye? I Could Have Told You For Free
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#47 Just Found Out My Dad Is A R*pist
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#48 Update: Found Out I’m A Product Of An Affair, Blew Apart My Family And Am Finally No Contact! My Results After The 23&me Update
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#49 They Discovered Early-Onset Macular Degeneration
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#50 Half Sister And Father Found On 23andme! Details In The Comments!
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#51 Found Out My Dad Isn’t My Dad 23 Years Later. Nobody Knew
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#52 Update: 23andme Says I Have Different Father, Life Changing Information Discovered
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#53 My Parents Weren’t Lying When They Told Me I’m Only Chinese Lmao I’m A Bit Disappointed There Wasn’t Any Variety, Not Even 0.1%!
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#54 My Dad’s Results. His Response: “See, I Could Have Told You That For Free”
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#55 Houston, We Have A Problem
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#56 I Found My Father And A Whole New Family
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#57 Are My Shared Percentages Wrong/Accurate?
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#58 I’m Korean… Just Korean
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#59 Finally Know Why I Lack Melanin
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#60 I Found My Egg Donor After Searching For Years And Met Her Accidentally On 23&me!
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#61 My Parents Are From El Salvador. Does Anyone Have This Much Unassigned? I Have Over 11 Percent
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#62 So Apparently I’m Related To The CEO Of Youtube? How Accurate Is This?
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#63 Thought To Do A Results + Pictures! , Half Korean Half German American Father, Half Japanese Half Hawaiian-Chinese Mother
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#64 Found Son I Never Knew Existed
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#65 My Girlfriends Results. She Is Cree From Northern British Columbia. Only Known European Ancestry Is Her Maternal Great Grandfather, And Her Paternal Great Great Grandfather
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#66 Grew Up Looking White, Then I Hit Puberty And Started Looking More Middle Eastern. Has This Happened To Anyone Else?!
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#67 So I Befriended A Distant Cousin From Britain Through 23 And Me! We Both Love Queen And Ended Up Becoming Penpals, Which Was Awesome Because I Was Incredibly Lonely During Quarantine. Today, I Found A Present At My Doorstep!
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#68 Ig My Ancestors Didn’t Mess With The Spaniards
The results were interesting since my family doesn’t have a family tree or records about my ancestors. My parents are from Ecuador, I was born there too. My parents told me that my grandfathers were also from Ecuador but that’s the farthest I could go, when I asked them if any of our ancestors lived in Mexico they said no and it was surprising for them too.
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#69 Mother Is From Malaysia, But She Didn’t Know About Her Parents. Father Is From The UK. No Crazy Surprises, But A Lot Of Fun!
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#70 Grandma Was A German War Bride And Dad Is From Syria. I, However, Am Confused But How Cool
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#71 My Results. African-American Dad, Whiter Than Wonder Bread Mom
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#72 My 95-Year-Old Grandfather! (French-Canadian)
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#73 Mom’s Ex-Boss My Dad?
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#74 Starting To Feel Bad About Telling Others That 23andme Is Fun And Interesting
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#75 Am I The #1 Neanderthal?
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#76 My Full Filipino Results! To All The Countless Aunties Calling Me “Mestiza” Or That I Resemble Some Far Off Spanish Relative That I’ve Never Met, Looks Like I’m Not “Halo Halo” After All ?
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#77 My Grandmother, Born In Rīga
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#78 My Dad Is Adopted And I Just Found Out Who My Gma (Or Great Gma? Is) And Her Picture Made My Jaw Hit The Floor. ( Los Angeles Born Irish/Ashkenazi Jew)
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#79 Adoptee Results! Found My Biological 1st Cousin!!!
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#80 New Year, New Dad
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#81 Updated Results! Adopted From Russia. No Diversity Here Unfortunately
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#82 I Don’t Know What To Say. Went Through My Whole Life Thinking I Was White, Only To Discover Im Half-Indian, My Dad Isn’t My Bio Dad, And My Mother Was Married Before To An Abuser Who Was My Father
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#83 My Results.. Half Asian Half European
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#84 Yakut/ Native Siberian. I Was Pretty Sure That I Was 1/8 Polish, Turns Out I Am 15% Ethnic Russian
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#85 Update: 23andme Showing A Full Brother (48%), Both Parents Deny It. Is It A Fluke?
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#86 Somehow Convinced My Grandma To Do 23 And Me. Born In 1934 She Is My Last Living Grandparent. Here Are Her Results
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#87 We’re Full Sisters!
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#88 0% Dna Shared With Mother Update
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#89 Update+details: 99.6% European, But Looking Asian. (No Make Up, Different Hair+family) More Details In The Comments(H23)
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#90 23andme Gave Me Something That No One Else Ever Could’ve Given Me, I Was Able To Meet My Biological Family For The First Time. I Met My Half Sister, My Niece, And My Biological Father For The First Time. It Was An Amazing Summer
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#91 Just Got My Results In Today, African American!
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#92 This $100 Test Probably Saved My Life. Formal Genetics Testing Confirmed This & Another Mutation. Now Recovering From My Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy & Will Have Reconstruction Surgery This Fall. It’s Been A Stressful Year, But Literally This Black Friday Purchase May Have Saved My Life
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#93 I Did A Dna Test After Many ‘What Are You?’ Questions & Even Some Racist Comments (I’m A Girl With Dark Features, Curly Hair And Monolid Eyes Living In A Small Dutch Town Where Most People Are Blonde With Blue Eyes). Apparently I Am At Least As White As Them But I Just Don’t Look Like It Lol
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#94 Aboriginal Australian Results! To Say Im Shocked Is An Understatement! Im Really Surprised And Proud Of How Diverse My Dna Is 🙂
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#95 Til That I’m Biracial. I Spent My Whole Life Thinking I Was Just African-American, But I Have Now Learned That My Biological Father Was An Afghan Sperm Donor
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#96 I Was Adopted From China As A Baby.. Not Sure What I Was Expecting, But This Is Sooo Anticlimactic!
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#97 Originally From Reunion Island (Indian Ocean), I Am Delighted To Share My Results With You !
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#98 23 & Me And That My Mom Isn’t Really My Mom
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