A woman who sent in a DNA sample to Ancestry.com was stunned when she received the result.
The popular genealogy offers the testing for $80.
“From discovering their ethnicity to connecting with distant relatives, the largest DNA network in the world is helping more people find the singular story in their DNA. Yours is just as unique, revealing traces of your family history—who your ancestors were and where they came from,” the company states on its website.
Kelli Rowlette found out a little more than just the origins of her ancestors. She found out the man she grew up calling “Dad” wasn’t really her biological dad.
The DNA test result showed that her sample matched a sample from a doctor more than 500 miles away.
Her parents had had trouble conceiving, so they turned to artificial insemination. But instead of her “Dad’s” sperm, the fertility doctor allegedly used his own.
The account comes from a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Idaho, reported The Washington Post.
Gerald Mortimer, a now-retired obstetrician-gynecologist who practiced out of Idaho Falls, has been accused of fraud and medical negligence.
The lawsuit claims that Mortimer never revealed the secret that he used his own sperm in the procedure. But the lawsuit states that Mortimer cried when he learned that the woman he inseminated was moving away. He had been her doctor for several years following the birth.
Unknown to all, ob/gyn adds his own sperm during couple's AI procedure; child finds out at 36 when https://t.co/2msDZA6rJj test reveals his name as probable parent and she recognizes it from birth certificate. https://t.co/yDAYLo0MW7
— Erin Murphy (@ErinMurphysLaw) April 4, 2018
“Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby informed him they were moving,” according to the lawsuit. “Dr. Mortimer knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this to Ms. Ashby or Mr. Fowler.”
Unexpected results from DNA tests happen with some frequency. The possibility is acknowledged by 23andMe, another company offering the service.
“Looking at your genetic data might uncover information that some people find surprising,” the website states. “This information can be relatively benign. At other times, the information you learn can have profound implications for both you and your family.”
Maarten Larmuseau, a researcher in the Department of Biology at the University of Leuven in Belgium, studied the policies of DNA testing companies and found that many didn’t require minors to have the consent of a parent or guardian in order to be tested, and only 10 out of the 43 companies studied included statements warning users about the risks of unexpected results.
“Nobody is seeing these recreational genetics tests as a real problem,” Larmuseau told Vice.
The results of tests that reveal secrets, like, allegedly, Rowlette’s, can cause great harm, said Sarah Lowe, an assistant professor of psychology at Montclair State University.
“It might have an emotional impact that looks like post-traumatic stress, depression, or anxiety,” she said.