Dana Schmalenberg’s DNA Surprise

There is never a good time to discover that the man you’ve called “Dad” for your entire life isn’t biologically related to you, but I imagine that having this realization as he lays in a hospital bed, dying, must be among the worst.

In the season 7 finale of DNA Surprises, Dana Schmalenberg shares how she uncovered the truth that both of her parents held tightly until the day her father passed. She reveals the shocking truth about her biological father, a man who fathered 9 other children, many of whom share strange similarities.

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Angela, Wyatt, Cassidy, and Cody’s DNA Surprise

How do you define family? For so many of us, DNA surprises have made us reflect deeply on this question. For Wyatt, Cassidy, Cody, and Angela, the answer is different depending on who you ask.

Twenty-plus years ago when Wyatt, Cassidy, and Cody were born, fertility clinics didn’t advocate for disclosure. So when their mother and father asked Angela, a clinic employee who’d befriended their mom, to donate her eggs for their subsequent pregnancies, they opted to position Angela as more of a family friend.

Their families kept in touch over the years, until contact suddenly stopped. After many twists and turns, today, their family looks different to each of them. Wyatt lives with Angela, her husband, and their biological and adopted children. Cassidy views Angela more like a fun aunt. Meanwhile, Cody’s relationship is a little more distant.

In this week’s episode, the four of them discuss their journeys from the beginning to where things are now. They also share what changes they’d like to see in the fertility industry.

You’ll hear throughout the episode that each of the siblings has a different perspective on their stories, from when they found out to how they found out. I won’t get on my soapbox again, but I believe this highlights the importance for each of us to be entitled to our own feelings about our own stories.

Thank you to Angela, Wyatt, Cody, and Cassidy for sharing your stories.

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Lisa S’ DNA Surprise

Many of us who have had DNA surprises spend some time wondering “What if?” What if we’d been raised in a different house, with our newly discovered biological parent? What if we’d known the truth from the beginning? What would our lives look like now? Would they be better? Or…would they be worse?

In this week’s episode, Lisa shares how she uncovered her shocking DNA surprise, learning that her biological father is her dad’s best friend. She shares how she’s built beautiful relationships with her newfound family, which has led to her wonder what life would have been like if she’d known them earlier. Ultimately, she reveals why she believes everything it happened as it should.

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Pat’s DNA Surprise

Picture this: you grow up with a sibling who is convinced they are not your dad’s biological child. No one knows about DNA surprises or NPEs or anything like that, but they just know their dad isn’t THEIR dad. Years later, after commercial DNA testing becomes commonplace, you offer them some peace of mind. All of your siblings take a test to prove, once and for all, that your parents are the biological parents of all of your siblings.

Except…they aren’t. Only it’s not your sibling who is the NPE. It’s you. In this week’s episode, Pat shares how she learned in her sixties that she doesn’t share a biological father with her siblings. She discusses how she was able to piece together a story long after the main players have passed, and how she’s forged new relationships with found family.

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Ryan’s DNA Surprise

Secrets. Secrets are often at the beginning of a DNA surprise. But after the surprise is uncovered, is that the end of them? In this week’s episode, Ryan shares how on one fateful Thanksgiving, his mother confessed the truth about his paternity. When he spoke to his birth certificate father and his biological father, they both requested that he continue the secrecy.

Ryan discusses why keeping the secret is harmful to him and why he struggles with when to share his DNA surprise with others. He also shares how his DNA surprise affected his mental health and altered his identity.

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Jill’s DNA Surprise

Something that I’ve heard more than once on this podcast is a situation that goes something like this: people are having an argument. A mother and child. A husband and wife. Both parents with their child, or some other combination. And then, in the heat of the moment, someone reveals the truth. So and so isn’t your real dad anyway. 

And then, just as quickly as it was blurted out, it is taken back. Dismissed. Forgotten about or explained away for years, until decades later, a DNA test brings the truth to light. 

In this week’s episode, Jill shares her version of this story. Her story is ultimately one of resilience. From childhood abuse to cancer diagnoses to her NPE, she discusses the truth as she knows it, and how she emerged from her challenges with the goal to inspire others to persevere in the face of adversity.

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