Ellie* is a 40-year-old mum of three who has been searching her family history for years. It started out as a hobby, but when Ellie couldn’t find out where her family had come from and their lineage, it became a passion project.
After hitting a dead end, Ellie thought ordering a DNA Ancestry kit, readily available via many family history sites, seemed like a natural step in her research.
Ellie and her siblings grew up with her parents on the NSW Central Coast and was particularly close with her brother Tim* but she says all of her family had a ‘close’ relationship.
Despite this closeness, Ellie says that they didn’t really talk much about their lineage or what countries they had ancestors in and for her, this was something she “had a real desire to know.”
“This was the main reason I chose to order the kit and have my family do the testing. I had an inkling there might be some ethnic ancestry surprises but I never expected the surprise to be so close to home.”
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In reality, the surprise Ellie discovered was a complete and utter shock for her and her brother Tim.
They discovered that Tim, who had grown up believing he was the child of his mother and father and brother of his two sisters by blood, was only a half sibling to Ellie and her sister.
“I couldn’t believe it when I first read the results. I read it about 50 times, I thought I was misreading something. Then I emailed the company saying there had to be an error. They assured me there wasn’t and these surprises happen quite often.”
After finding out the results, Ellie confronted her mum about Tim’s biological father and questioned why their DNA did not match. That’s when her mum told her about an affair she’d had that lasted a few months that she ended when she found out she was pregnant.
“My father didn’t expect anything because they were still obviously together at the time as well. My mother had never told anyone and for whatever reason, didn’t think doing this DNA test would uncover this secret.”
Ellie decided to tell Tim the truth in what she says was an impossible situation for her.
“I knew the truth so I either kept the burden of a secret which wasn’t mine or I told my brother the truth. My decision wasn’t made lightly but in the end, I decided if I were in this situation, I would want to know the truth.
“The likelihood would be that it would come out in the end anyway, the truth always does.”
Ellie says telling her brother was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.
“He was in complete disbelief for quite a while but then something twigged and he told me that so much made sense to him now.
“The truth explained a few differences he saw in himself and my sister and I and also how he never really connected that well with our dad.