In a lot of ways, families are just a collection of stories, all believed and held true by a set of actors known as a family. They can be biologically related, but they really don’t have to be.
Ancestry.com and related services are uncovering many stories that haven’t been told. In some cases, the mailman really is your father!
In my case, I had to turn off the ability for strangers to message me on Ancestry.com, all because of Uncle Tony. I’ve never met Uncle Tony. He is not even my uncle, he is a great uncle, I think? Anyway, he apparently fathered a child in San Diego while stationed there in WWII, and a bunch of people in that family tree started bugging me for information about my family.
I don’t know much about that side of my family. My biological grandfather was out of the picture long before I was born. One thing I did learn from Ancestry was that he was French Canadian. I thought I was Irish-Italian. I had no idea I was actually Irish - French - Italian. C'est la vie.
I started getting all these emails from people that thought it was great we were 4th cousins or whatever. I couldn’t really answer any of their questions, and I don’t really care. If you go back far enough we are all related. The fact that somebody in Seattle is my 4th cousin because of an illegitimate child fathered by a great uncle I never met 30 years before I was born is completely uninteresting to me.
I also think the people in the article that felt connected to their new found family, or now realize why they never felt quite right at home are mostly feeling what they want to feel. In the nature / nurture debate I’m firmly on the nurture side. I think environment has way more to do with who we become than DNA. Certainly DNA is important, and can explain physical traits, etc. But it doesn’t pre-ordain who you become. Nobody is born serial killer. You become a serial killer. Possibly from getting too many emails from Ancestry.com.