PLACERVILLE (CBS SF) — Jaclyn Baxter was curious about what a mail-in DNA test could tell her about her children’s future health risks.
So she went online, ordered a DNA testing kit from the Bay Area-based 23andMe and then sent in a sample of her saliva. Since she knew little about her background, Baxter was worried about passing on genes for Alzheimer’s or Type I Diabetes – illnesses that ran in her family — to her two young children.
Little did she know the three-month journey she was about to take.
“Honestly when I opened up the results I fell to my knees,” she told the Sacramento Bee. “And I couldn’t stop crying. Like, uncontrollably crying.”
When the results arrived, like most people tested, Baxter found out where her ancestors had most likely come from. In her case, they were predominantly British.
But there was more — much more. Baxter discovered she also had a half brother and the man she thought was her biological father was not.
“While of course I’m very happy about my brothers, the first thing I felt was that my dad isn’t biologically mine,” she told the paper.
Estranged from her mother and having lost the man she thought was her father when she was a teen, Baxter turned to an uncle and Facebook for answers. She contacted her half brother — a Berkeley firefighter named Loren Chase — on the social platform.
“As soon as I saw his photo on Facebook, my whole body knew it was my brother. I just knew,” Baxter said told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Chase had another surprise for her. He told her he was a “donor-conceived kid” and had discovered a half brother of his own named Tim McNulty.
Baxter’s journey to find her roots has revealed she and her half-siblings are linked by a sperm donor. Her biological father apparently donated to a sperm bank while he was a student at UC Berkeley in the late 1970s.
Baxter has been combing through a series of donor registries, looking for other potential matches.
“In the last eight weeks I’ve gained two new siblings,” she told the paper. “If it’s coming at me this fast, how many more are headed my way?”