DNA Test Surprises: Donor Conceived, NPE (Not Parent Expected), Late Discovery Adoptees

Surprising results from the popular and easy to use at-home DNA testing (Ancestry, 23andMe, etc.) has led to the revelation of family secrets.

Learning that one or both of your parents are not your biological parent via 23andMe or Ancestry.com is a major life shock. Reasons for this may include learning about being:

  • NPE (Not Parent Expected/Non-Paternity Event) experience with DNA testing  – meaning a parent you thought was your biological parent is not (usually the father). This may be due to a parental affair, rape, or other reason.  
  • Donor-Conceived – Conceived via assisted reproduction with the use of sperm or egg from a non-intended parent
  • Late Discovery Adoptee

While each person will react in their own personal way, the one constant is that there is typically a whirlwind of personal emotions, impact on one’s sense of identity, emotions and relationships.

Some of the issues are similar and some are different for each of the 3 cohorts listed. These 3 different subgroups are now being aggregated under the term Misattributed Parental Experience (MPE).

IAC Center is here to help.

IAC Center Founder and Director Joni Mantell has a special interest in this area. With over 25 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in families created through adoption and third-party reproduction, Joni is also personally privy to the complexities of genetic bewilderment having undergone her own surprising DNA discovery: that she, herself, was donor conceived.

The unique juxtaposition of her professional specialties and personal story—allowing her insight from both the perspective of expert and subject—has given her a deep understanding and passion for working with individuals and families navigating the intricate emotional, identity, self-esteem, and relationship issues related to adoption, donor conception, or other unexpected family matches (NPE). 

“I understand that finding a family member through adoption search/reunion or DNA discovery is just the beginning of the journey, not the endpoint. The emotional reactions come in layers, and I can help you work through each complex feeling, question of identity, and relationship as we revise your personal narrative to include this new information.” Joni Mantell, MSW, LCSW

Under her guidance IAC Center offers:

  • Individual Counseling to process new discoveries, complex emotions, identity and relationship issues. Get support as you navigate known family secrets or search for and meet biological family.
  • Parent Counseling – Learn how to tell and talk with your children (young or adult) about donor conceptions, adoptions or other complex histories; and probably most importantly, to process what makes it emotionally difficult for you to disclose and discuss these issues with your child.
  • Mediated sessions between Parents and Child (young or adult) at any point in the discovery process. When unexpected adoption/donor secrets have been learned, it may be difficult, yet important and healing to explore the viewpoints of both the offspring and the parent together.

I am licensed in New York and New Jersey. Please see the MPE (Misattributed Parentage Experience) Therapist Directory: https://npecounseling.org/directory/ if you would like to find a therapist in another state.

Based in Pennington, NJ