71-Year-Old Man Adopted As A Baby Gets A Message About His DNA Test That Leaves Him In Tears

When Texas man Dennis Blackstone sent his DNA sample for online testing, it was a “Hail Mary” attempt to finally learn more about the biological family he’d thought about for decades. You see, he and his brother had been adopted as toddlers and, though Dennis had lived a happy life, he couldn’t deny his deep, gnawing desire to know more about his biological origins. When he finally took a DNA test at 71 years old, though, nothing could have prepared him for the stunning results.

What is DNA?

Before we get into Dennis’ incredible story, it’s worth explaining exactly what DNA is. Deoxyribonucleic acid — or DNA, for short — is a combination of genes each person inherits from their parents. To keep things simple, a person’s DNA is 50 percent identical to their mother, and 50 percent identical to their father.

It can also be used to identify siblings: those with the same parents will have 50 percent of the same genetic makeup, while those with only one common parent will share 25 percent of their DNA.

What can home DNA testing reveal?

Over the last couple of decades, a large number of DNA-testing companies have sprung up. These include the likes of Thriva, DNAFit, Orig3n, MyHeritage DNA, and 23andMe. This last firm is the company Dennis chose to use.

As The Guardian’s Barbara Ellen put it, the company promises “to unlock the mystery of your genomes, variously explaining everything from ancestry, residual Neanderthal variants, ‘bioinformatics’ for fitness, weight loss and skincare, to more random genetic predispositions.

How does it work?

In practice, the company simply sends a DNA kit in the mail which includes a tube to collect a saliva sample. The tester then fills out a short questionnaire and mails their package back.

After that, it’s a matter of logging into the company’s website to retrieve confidential results which have been obtained once the sample has been analyzed in a third-party laboratory. This kind of home DNA testing has become huge business. In fact, the market had an estimated global worth of $14.36 billion in 2022.

The Lost Family

Because commercial DNA testing has become so prevalent, many experts have begun to believe it is changing how we understand our own identities. In 2020 journalist Libby Copeland published a book entitled The Lost Family after becoming fascinated by the subject.

She told radio show The Naked Scientists, “I wrote a feature story for The Washington Post. After that piece ran I started getting emails, so many emails that I couldn't keep up with them.”