“I wonder what a DNA test would show. My dad’s Scotch-Irish I think and my mother is full-blooded German. But maybe some other genes are mixed in there,” my husband mused.

“Well, there’s one sure way to find out. Get a DNA test,” I replied.

And so for Christmas 2018 one of the gifts under our tree for him

was this.



I’ve never had much doubt about my origins, which seem to be well-documented; for example, a snapshot from a 487-page book on the paternal family lineage written by a Longenecker cousin. My grandfather Henry, grandmother Fannie, with their son Ray (my father in a white dress), appear below in the lower right corner.


Esther Mae Longenecker Hiestand, Pitchforks and Pitchpipes: A Portrait of a Lancasterr County Mennonite Family, page 23.




On my mother’s side, hundreds descended from Valentine Metzler, gathered to celebrate their coming to the New World during a 275th celebration in 2013. In the post, the congregation sings with conviction the words from “Faith of Our Fathers,” knowing their forefathers in Europe were persecuted (tortured, actually) for their faith.

The second stanza begins: “Our fathers chained in prison dark / were still in heart and conscience free.”




Whatever our family background, according to Psalm 139, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. As Jim Penner writes, “Did you know you started out as a single cell, and within that cell was enough DNA to hold the equivalent of 1000 volumes of coded blueprints?” These blueprints determine the color of your hair and eyes, the shape of your nose, your voice, your smile. You are an original, one of a kind, special.


* * *


For most of her life, Dani Shapiro, author of five memoirs and five novels, was assured of her heritage as an Ashkenazi Jew. One hundred percent, she thought, until a DNA test, taken on a lark, revealed otherwise.



Published in early 2019, her newest memoir illustrates the shock and awe of discovering through bio-genetics that she is not who she thought she was all her life. High on the New York Times best seller list, the true drama of her story is not the “discovery of her true identity, but the meaning she makes of it,” as the NYT book review points out.

You can read my review here.


A Pause

Like Dani Shapiro, I have rested on the certainty of my pedigree my entire life.

When we cleared out two family homes, evidence of my lineage was found everywhere: In photographs, notations in family Bibles, and in other documents.

Unlike Dani whose parents secretly used non-traditional means, my parents did not wait years for my conception. I was born exactly nine months after my parents’ wedding, which I take as proof of my parentage.

However, my father chuckled when he called me Pocahontas because of my coloring and facial traits as a child. This small doll (3-inches long) remains in a dresser drawer.


Should I be worried?

There’s only one way to find out for sure: A DNA test!




How about you?


Have you taken a DNA test?

If you are adopted, have you attempted to discover your birth parents? What has been the result?

What documents about your family origins do you treasure?