This ‘Below Deck’ Charter Guest Shares Shocking Revelations About Her Family

Torrie Jasuwan and family | Torrie Jasuwan Instagram

Genetic tests like 23andMe or Ancestry.com can make for fun holiday gifts. In some cases, families learn they aren’t predisposed to certain illnesses or discover a new ethnicity. However, in other cases, a DNA test may reveal something more shocking and in some instances, disturbing.

For Below Deck charter guest Torrie Jasuwan and her mother Pattie Tiernan, an Ancestry.com test revealed far more than she bargained for. The DNA match showed that Tiernan was not raised by her biological father, but instead by another man who was married to her mother. However, none of this information was shared with her until she and her daughter recently took the Ancestry.com test.

Shocked at 60

“It was a little shocking finding out at 60 years old,” Tiernan said to The Cheat Sheet. She also learned she had half-siblings, who reside in Georgia. She’s identified all of her half-siblings but one. Tiernan has yet to connect with a woman with the username is Stephanie8897. And she’s now making a public plea to help find her.

Unfortunately, none of Tiernan’s parents are living so she can’t ask about what happened. “Nothing was ever shared and there were no letters,” she said. “My father, the father who raised me, died 10 years before my mother did. She had ample time to tell me or share something. But for her own reasons, she didn’t tell me.”

Currently, Tiernan and Jasuwan are piecing together this entirely new branch of their family and hope to meet the extended family members in the near future. “But it is still fresh,” she says. “You aren’t ready to talk when it’s still fresh. I’m sure my half siblings have the same questions.”

But this scenario isn’t all that rare

Tiernan joined a private Facebook support group, “Not Parent Expected” to connect with others who have stumbled upon unexpected relatives through genetic tests. After DNA testing rose in popularity, a number of articles have surfaced that detailed some of the same unexpected findings.

In fact, 56-year-old Catherine St Clair found herself in the same position as Tiernan. She discovered her biological father was not the man who raised her as well. “I looked into a mirror and started crying,” she told The Atlantic. “I’ve taken for granted my whole life that what I was looking at in the mirror was part my mother and part my dad. And now that half of that person I was looking at in the mirror, I didn’t know who that was.”

And in some cases, a DNA test can even destroy a marriage. George Doe wrote a piece in Vox about how 23andMe testing was the impetus to his parent’s divorce. DNA showed that Doe’s father had a son who had been adopted at birth. But Doe’s mother never knew about the child. “I wasn’t particularly upset about it initially, until the rest of the family found out,” Doe wrote. “Their reaction was different. Years of repressed memories and emotions uncorked and resulted in tumultuous times that have torn my nuclear family apart. My parents divorced. No one is talking to my dad. We’re not anywhere close to being healed yet and I don’t know how long it will take to put the pieces back together.”

Don’t want to find lost relatives?

While Tiernan seems intrigued by this discovery, albeit shocked, some people would rather not know. Apparently, 23andMe has an option to opt out of finding relatives, embedded in the fine print, according to Vox.

And Ancestry says they offer support to families who unearth unexpected realities. “Ancestry recognizes that the information we provide to our customers can be surprising and at times, life-changing,” the company said in a statement to The Cheat Sheet. “Our technology enables the democratization of information by offering tools to people who want to understand who they are and where they come from. Ancestry works hard to help our customers understand that some of what they learn about themselves might be unexpected and our team of member services representatives are trained to help customers understand and interpret their DNA test results and for customers with more sensitive queries, we offer a small, dedicated group of highly experienced representatives who can help guide users to their own discoveries.”

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