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But she talked to her sister, and they agreed she should test again. In a family photo, Alice Collins Plebuch’s father, James “Jim” Collins, poses with his children.If the information Plebuch was seeing on her computer screen was correct, it posed a fundamental mystery about her very identity. In the second row: Jim Collins, John Collins, Bill Collins, Brian Collins and Ed Collins.Five years ago, Alice Collins Plebuch made a decision that would alter her future — or really, her past.She sent away for a “just-for-fun DNA test.” When the tube arrived, she spit and spit until she filled it up to the line, and then sent it off in the mail. Plebuch, now 69, already had a rough idea of what she would find.Some testers, looking for a little more information about a grandparent’s origins, or to confirm a family legend about Native American heritage, may not be prepared for results that disrupt their sense of identity.Often, that means finding out their dad is not actually their dad or discovering a relative that they never knew existed — perhaps a baby conceived out of wedlock or given up for adoption.
After a few weeks during which her saliva was analyzed, she got an email in the summer of 2012 with a link to her results. About half of Plebuch’s DNA results presented the mixed British Isles bloodline she expected.The most popular DNA-deciphering approach, autosomal DNA testing, looks at genetic material inherited from both parents and can be used to connect customers to others in a database who share that material.