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When Linda Ketchum of Glendale, Calif., asked her husband for an AncestryDNA kit for Christmas, it was just a lark. She had no family secrets she was trying to uncover, no genealogy mysteries that needed answers. She was just curious.
“My dad was German, and my mother was Scottish-English,” she says. “I thought it’d be fun to learn a little about my genetic ethnicity, to trace how all the pieces came together.” But she ended up getting far more than she bargained for.
The article goes on to state the following:
When she went on the AncestryDNA site to view her DNA matches, there were no connections between her and her father. Even more unsettling, at least two-thirds of Ketchum’s matches had Hispanic surnames. “At first I didn’t believe it,” she says. “But then I kept re-checking it, and I realized, oh my God, does this mean I’m . . . I’m Hispanic! All these years I thought I was German on my dad’s side, but all of a sudden it was dawning on me that my dad wasn’t my real dad and I had an entirely different ethnicity.”
At 51, half a century into her life, Ketchum’s familial and cultural identity had changed in an instant. “I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t know who I was anymore,” she says. “Every Hispanic person I saw on the street, I thought, ‘Are you my cousin?’ ”
As an only child whose parents were both deceased, she had nobody to turn to for answers. So she kept searching on AncestryDNA. She finally discovered the identity of her biological father, Bill Chavez of New Mexico, who had died when Ketchum was just 17.
“It kind of consumed me,” says the mother of eight. “I still wonder sometimes, would my life have been different if I’d known this earlier? My real father, my actual grandparents, they all spoke fluent Spanish. I can’t even speak a word of it!”
She joined a secret Facebook community called DNA NPE Friends—NPE is short for “Not Parent Expected”— and found not just the support she needed but a reminder that she’s far from alone.
“I never realized that there are so many others,” Ketchum says. “All over the country, DNA is blowing up family secrets.”
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— New York Post (@nypost) August 11, 2018
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