Monday, January 30, 2012

Memory Monday: Murky Soup- Part I


My husband and I stumbled into the complex world of DNA and Genes in the year 2009. We were sent a labyrinth of funny symbols and numbers leading us to an elusive truth and more questions than answers. How did we embark on this amazing quest? It actually started long before we ever sent in the cheek swab to the DNA testing lab.

Daniel grew up in a Chinese home in Malaysia, but he always suspected his dad was not fully Chinese. His grandparents were Chinese and all his aunts and uncles on his dad's side were also Chinese- but his father was the odd duck in the mix. Rumors circulated in the town about some mysterious man who might have been his actual father. Anytime we tried to ask Daniel's grandmother anything she would retort with, "I nursed him for 8 years" or "A coconut tree fell on me when he was in my belly and I gave birth under the tree" All useless bits of information which were meant to stop any future questions.

Over the years, we joked about trying to find out the real story behind Daniel's father's origins. We were convinced that at least he was 1/2 Chinese, as we assumed his mother was his biological mother. We thought of exploring the possibilities of what his father's father could have been. When DNA testing became more prevalent, we toyed with the idea of having a test done. The cost and the fact we were living in Ghana at the time hindered us from going through with the test.

In 2009, we had settled here in the US and it just seemed the right time to send in the for a Y-chromosome test. This is a test which only traces from father to son- with no mixtures from the female line. To be honest, when we sent the test in we were sure the results would come back saying Daniel's paternal line contained some North Indian DNA. What a shock to all of us when we opened the results and read that his paternal line was most definitely Caucasian in nature! 

Neisha, Sean and Daniel's Dad

First, we reacted with confusion.  In fact, Daniel came to me and said, "The results are in."  I was excited and asked him what they were. He couldn't even tell me, he said, "You have to see for yourself."  When I read the results I said, "This can't be right! They've made a mistake."


The confusion turned to outrage.  Our initial thought was, "The lab must have made a mistake!!"  I even wrote a very strong email to the company we had tested with telling them I was not happy with the way they had messed up our test results.  They sent me an expert to communicate with. After conferring with the expert in the field, it was decided this might not be a mistake but rather a very possible scenario. Daniel's dad was born in Oct 1946- the British army returned to Malaya in September 1945. There was a British encampment near his home town from 1945 to 1946, thus making his DNA findings believable. 



Now Daniel was scratching his head...he was wondering who he really was (biologically). The expert we contacted suggested we do a Y-DNA test on Daniel's father to verify the original results...and to make sure we were totally satisfied, we should use a different company. If the Y-DNA results came back the same, then we would know they had to be correct. Then Daniel decided he also needed to do a Maternal line test on his father, as by this time he suspected there was more to the story than he could find out via normal means. His grandparents were dead, so there was no way for us to ask them for information, we had to rely on the DNA tests to give us answers. 


Cheeks were swabbed. Cotton swabs were sent across oceans. We waited patiently for the results of the already murky DNA soup. We were to find out more surprises and more questions...for isn't this the fascinating world of DNA? 

....to be continued.... 


21 comments:

  1. oh Ms.Anjuli..huh..I just can feel how your hubby is going through right now..finding a missing piece on one's true identity is really hard..I will include your family in my prayers Ms.Anjuli..I'll be waiting for the next post..I hope things will be alright soon..*hugs* ;)

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    1. Sie, don't worry about us- this happened three years ago- so we are over the shock :) Thank you though for your compassion!

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  2. I personally feel it should hardly matter.Anyway since you have gone through the process, I would look forward to your next post. It is really amazing how much we have advanced, we can go as deep as we want and get all the answers.

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    1. yes, it doesn't hardly matter- it was just my husband was curious- he was interested to find out his roots

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  3. such a strong desire to trace one's roots! and to think that you actually went to such great lengths to find out!

    i was curious when you had described the situation in your Chinese NY post & now that the next part is coming up, more so :)

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    1. @ Sujatha- yes my hubby was curious and like his sister said, "It is nice to finally know the the truth"- as growing up people would always tell her "You are not fully chinese" and she would fight with them saying she was- but something inside nagged at her- in the end it was verified that her nagging was true.

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  4. Wow! This was as if I am re reading ROOts by Alex Haley after so many years:)

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    1. The DNA trial has been interesting

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  8. Wow! people go out of the way! Good read.

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    1. ha ha- yes it is interesting to see what lengths we went to in order to find out information

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  9. Okay this seems straight out of a novel! I am really curious now about what happened next! Indeed its a miraculous and intriguing world of DNA!

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    1. The story is interesting indeed- even for us who are living it. It never ceases to amaze me how DNA plays a role in our lives- as far as the inheritance of features and traits

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  10. Omg Connie. The pains you guys took to find out your roots.. That must have been quite an experience. I really admire that spirit. :) And I am waiting for your next post.

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    1. I think all of us have a curiosity to discover our family tree

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  11. Fascinating stuff. I'm trying to get into geneology but it's so complicated and time consuming.

    I guess DNA can be advantageous or otherwise, depending on circumstances. Off to read part two.

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    1. If you are getting into the researching part- I would suggest ancestry.com- they have a 'free' level and if there is something you get stumped on that needs a paid level you can email me the details and I can search for you (as I've been suckered into paying each month- ha ha) I do have access to far more records and it has helped me on all my trees - father's and mother's side to go back almost to the 1500's- my dad's side was a real stumper but then suddenly I had a breakthrough and so my advice do NOT give up- keep researching!!

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  12. In retrospect, do you find the effort was worth it ?

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    1. Yes, I think if we had to do it again- we would have still made the same effort- as I said, it is still an ongoing process. The small evidences we have already found has helped my husband and his siblings to understand so much about themselves and their growing up which they never completely understood before (too long of story to get into) - so yes, I think it was worth it.

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