The Five Stages of DNA Purgatory

I thought I got lucky having two very high new matches show up on 23andme, but truly, I wish they never had. The site locked down the anonymous accounts on November 12, as planned, in preparation for their new user interface. Sure enough, they slowly rolled out the changes. My grandpa’s account was converted first and I was over the moon to discover that the new system allowed me to send a message to an anonymous user, despite the fact that these anonymous users are planned to be phased out. I was thrilled I was going to get a second chance to contact these two matches. Maybe they would respond this time. I wrote, re-wrote, and re-worded my email a million times before I sent it. I wanted it to be perfect. Maybe that’s why they didn’t respond to the first one. This time, I wouldn’t mess it up. I was friendly, polite, engaged and asked direct questions, while providing just enough information to hopefully pique their curiosity.

Then I waited.

And then I logged in and refreshed the page forty times an hour. Then twenty. Then once an hour. Then once a day.

They haven’t responded. I don’t think they ever will and it completely blows my mind. These individuals had JUST got their test results when I messaged them the first time, before the site changed over. I had logged in, then logged in again two days later and saw the new match and messaged him instantly. Then I was obsessively checking it waiting for a response from him. I checked it. Nothing. Watched a television show. Checked again an hour later and his (likely) mother’s match showed up. I messaged her within an hour of her results being posted. Which makes me think they had to have seen the message. I would assume after forking out a couple hundred on this test, they would be checking it. Even more mind boggling is that the DNA relatives feature isn’t automatically done. You have to deliberately enable it. You have to click through all of these different options and “opt in” to the DNA relatives feature. Which means that these people deliberately chose to participate in this feature, yet ignored me.

I don’t get it. I really don’t.

At this point, I know I’m throwing a pity party. I’m feeling apathetic. I’m not crying as much as I was, but there was a good week where I’d start thinking about it and just burst into tears. For those that know me, this is a big deal. I don’t usually cry unless someone died. But that’s how I feel. I feel like someone died. Truly. I went through the five stages of grief with this.

Denial… I kept thinking they’ll message me any minute. I’m being impatient. Maybe if I refresh it again, there will be a message. There wasn’t. Maybe one more time. Still nothing. Let’s throw in the definition of insanity here, since it seems to apply. Well, maybe when I wake up in the morning. Well, maybe by dinner time. Maybe they’re working a lot this week and they’ll get back to me this weekend when they have some free time. Well, maybe this weekend just got crazy busy, so they’ll try again later.

Then I got angry. Why would they take this test if they aren’t going to respond? What is the point? Why would they do this and be so unwilling to help? Genealogy and genetic genealogy really rely on a sharing of information and cooperation. Why be a dick and withold it? Especially when you are such an amazing match? What did I do to deserve this? Do they not realize how badly this is hurting me? Why would they do this if they’re just going to complete ignore everyone?! Especially this high of a match.

And here comes the bargaining. I told my muslim friend and my christian friend… If your god is real, here’s the chance to make me doubt my atheism. I even told a good friend of mine if they contact me, I promise, I will read the Quaran cover to cover. It doesn’t mean I will believe it, but I will read it. Better yet, I’ll go upstairs (since I live in an old church) kneel down on the alter and praise sweet baby Jesus/Mohammed. I will officially change my label from atheist to agnostic. Just let this one thing go right. Religious bargaining isn’t working. Okay, universe. Let’s try again. I will let it rest if I find my answer. Just a name. That’s all I want. I won’t contact him. I won’t interfere. Just let me solve this puzzle. I can be happy. Even if he’s a complete jerk or a serial killer or wants my head on a platter. Just give me the answer.

Then came the depression. I’ll never win. I’ll never solve this puzzle and it seems like I am the only one who doesn’t get their answer. In my DNA search group, there are success stories and reunifications left and right. It will never be me. Everything good is happening somewhere else. I’m doomed to fail. The universe won’t ever cut me some slack and no matter how hard I try, it doesn’t matter and it never will. I’ll never get my answer and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I know it makes me a terrible person, but I can’t even see other people’s success stories anymore. I get so angry and bitter, my head could explode. And then I go right back to the anger and bargaining.

And acceptance? I don’t think that will ever come. I can accept my father being a scumbag. I can accept him wanting nothing to do with me. But I really can’t accept never knowing.

Then I saw this quote.


And it hit home. That’s what this is. That’s why it hurts so bad. That’s why the grief is so intense. It is a deep and profound sense of loss that I cannot even attempt to describe or put words to, because even the best description would fall short by far.

It’s just not fair. As childish as that is. It’s not fair. There is nothing I can do about it. Nothing anyone else can do about it (except maybe those two matches who seem to enjoy this hell they have condemned me to). There’s nothing. And the worst part is… Before, there was nothing. No good matches. No real or conclusive way to obtain an answer. Just ways to work slight closer, but still tremendously far away. Now, there’s something. It’s right there. In front of my face.

And I can’t have it.



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I am Samantha. I am twenty years old, and have a gorgeous little girl, and a baby boy who I am expecting in May. I am married to my best friend in the entire world. I am a full time student, and am torn between pursuing a career as a midwife, or going to medical school to become an obstetrician.

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