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DNA Surprises

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DNA Surprises

Alexis Hourselt

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Imagine spitting into a tube, sending off your DNA, and unknowingly turning your life upside down. For me and thousands of others, this is our reality. I'm your host, Alexis Hourselt. In July of 2021, I discovered that I am an NPE - someone who has experienced a non-paternal event. In other words, my biological father isn't who I thought he was.This podcast shares the journeys of people who were shocked by a DNA discovery, mostly through modern DNA testing. We're telling the stories of NPEs, ...
 
According to the Pulitzer website, anyone can nominate anything for a Pulitzer Prize, and Pulitzer Surprises takes advantage of that horrible idea. Eliza Cossio (The Daily Show) and Caroline Schaper (Full Frontal, Letterman) have their favorite comedians perform their submission for a Pulitzer. Then they interview a real-life Pulitzer Prize winner who has actually done something good. At the end of the show the audience will cast their vote on who deserves a Pulitzer, and then it will really ...
 
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NPEs come from all backgrounds, but all too often, the stories we hear involve childhood abuse. In this week’s episode, Bianca shares her difficult journey to finding out that she is an NPE. First, a content warning: Bianca’s story includes discussion of drug use, rape, and abuse, and is not suitable for all listeners. If you or anyone you know are…
 
The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly was held on August 8-12, 2022 in Columbus, OH. There were 13 voting members from our synod participating. We have a chance to hear from several of them in this episode of Unexpected Surprises. The WND Synod Voting members were Vickie Benzmiller from Augustana Lutheran in Underwood; Rosa Berg from Christ Lutheran in…
 
One of the most interesting things about the DNA surprise community is how much intersection there is between adoptees, donor-conceived people, and NPEs. In this week’s episode, Hayley, who was one of the first people conceived through IVF in the UK, shares her NPE story. While she knew from a young age that she was conceived through IVF, it wasn’t…
 
Sometimes DNA surprises reveal that bio fathers are people known to the NPE, however unexpected. In this week's episode, Devin shares how a DNA test revealed that he is one of more than a dozen children - some of his siblings old enough to be his grandparent. He shares how he’s connected with those siblings, and how his discovery has affected his r…
 
Welcome to Season 3 of DNA Surprises. In the season premier, Ashley shares her double NPE journey. First, a content warning: due to the circumstances of Ashley’s conception, there is a lengthy discussion of rape and sexual assault. There are also mentions of childhood sexual abuse. If you or anyone you know are a victim of rape or sexual abuse, ple…
 
Anne & Willie Langdji join Bishop Craig in this episode. Anne and Willie have served a variety of countries in West Africa for many years. They continue to be one of the central points of contact for the ministry we share with our global companion synod in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic. The Langdjis share with us t…
 
Bishop Craig is joined by the Rev. Randy Emgarten on this episode of Unexpected Surprises. Pr. Randy serves as pastor of St. Olaf and Our Savior's Lutheran Churches in the central region of our synod. He shares his deep love for the people and holy place of the North Dakota prairie that God has called him to serve for more than two decades. Find ou…
 
In this episode of Unexpected Surprises, Bishop Craig and Deacon Terri Endres discuss Portico and the many ways it serves the leaders of our church, her journey toward ordained ministry in the church from a vocation in medicine, her love of all things Green Bay Packers, and a few of the things she has heard recently that give hope for the future of…
 
Welcome to the season 2 finale of DNA Surprises. In this week’s episode, Jennifer shares her NPE story. While she was never close to her birth certificate father, she was blindsided when she put the pieces together after taking a DNA test. Jennifer shares how her discovery has made an impact on her relationships and how she’s buildling a relationsh…
 
Kristin had no idea her NPE was coming, let alone the secrets she’d uncover because of her DNA surprise. Not only did she discover that she is an NPE – she learned that her sister is, too. In this week’s episode, Kristin explains how she’s worked through rejection from her found family and estrangement from her raised family. She also shares her ow…
 
Pr. Dave Myers joins Bishop Craig for this episode of Unexpected Surprises. Pr. Dave is a retired Air Force serviceman and recently ordained into the ministry of word and sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He serves as Associate Pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Minot, ND. Unexpected Surprises is made possible through a mis…
 
Welcome to a bonus episode of DNA Surprises, a crossover with Everything’s Relative with Eve Sturges! In this episode, we chat about our own NPE stories, the importance of humor throughout our journeys, and why we started our podcasts. I also share something I’ve never shared before - that I’ve been on the other side of a DNA surprise. Thanks to Ev…
 
Layla always knew that she was adopted by family. She also knew both of her birth parents, or so she thought. In this week’s episode, Layla shares how she discovered she is an NPE and what she had to do to identify her biological father. Layla also discusses the many nuances of discovering a new ethnicity. Thank you for sharing your story, Layla. D…
 
Have you ever wondered about the first NPEs who found out through commercial DNA tests? In this week’s episode, Annie shares how she began her journey a decade ago. She shares how she figured out who her father is and how she has made connections with her found family. She also offers her perspective on her mother’s choice. Thank you to Annie for s…
 
Bishop Craig is joined by the Rev. Dawn Busch on this episode of Unexpected Surprises. Pr. Dawn serves as pastor of Belfield Lutheran Church, Medora Lutheran Church, and Daglum Lutheran Church on the western edge of our synod. She shares her unique and unexpected journey to ordained ministry, her love of Biblical languages, and the spirit of the co…
 
NPEs, DCPs, and adoptees aren’t the only people who experience DNA Surprises. Found family has them, too. This week, Dori shared her surprise at being contacted by a sibling she never knew existed. Dori also shares her experience growing up with family secrets, especially her life being raised by a lesbian couple. I’m excited to release this episod…
 
Some DNA surprise stories are harder to unravel than others. When Linda found out about her NPE, she was nearly 60 years old and both her mother and birth certificate father had passed. In this week's episode, Linda shares how she was able to track down the identity of her biological father despite genealogical challenges such as endogamy, (the cus…
 
The Rev. Keith Pearson serves as Regional Representative for the ELCA Foundation. This episode is from the May WND Synod "Lunch & Learn Zoominar" where Pr. Keith shared a bit of his story with us as well as many insights available to our synod through the ELCA Foundation including endowments, gift policies, and planned giving ideas. You can find Pr…
 
When Mark received a call from who he believed was a new-found half-sibling, he wasn't surprised. Little did he know that this revelation would lead him to his own NPE journey. In this week's episode, Mark shares how he uncovered his truth, how he connected with his family, and how he finds peace with his mother, who died before he could speak to h…
 
In this week’s episode, Kara shares her donor conceived journey. Kara’s parents told her and her twin sister that they were conceived with a donor egg when they were 10 years old. The family never really spoke about it again. Kara shares how she connected with her bio mom, how she feels about donor conception, and what steps would make donor concep…
 
Michael Paul always felt different from his family. He was treated differently than his two younger brothers and went through multiple periods of estrangement from his raised parents. In this week’s episode, he shares how he finally learned the truth through a consumer DNA testing kit. He tells us how he connected with his biological dad and why he…
 
In the maiden voyage of Unexpected Surprises, Bishop Craig is joined by Pr. Jon Halvorson, Executive Director of Metigoshe Ministries. Pr. Jon shares part of his story growing up in many places around our country, his discernment toward seminary and ordained ministry in the ELCA following a time in the Peace Corps serving in Nicaragua, and a few of…
 
In this week's episode, Charlotte shares her journey as both an adoptee and NPE. Charlotte always knew she was adopted. Her parents were always open with her and she never wanted to seek out her birth parents. After taking a 23&Me test to learn her health history, she was surprised to realize that it also connected her with DNA matches. She shares …
 
In this week's episode, Cara shares an NPE story with lots of twists and turns. She tells us how she found out about her NPE and the journey to finding her biological father. She also shares how her new relationships are forming and how this process has affected her relationship with her BCF (birth certificate father) and mother. Thanks to Cara for…
 
Welcome to season 2 of DNA Surprises! In this week’s episode, we’ll hear Gretchen’s NPE story. Like many of our stories, Gretchen’s DNA surprise includes many people, and it can be difficult to understand the roles of everyone involved, so before we begin I want to give some background. Before her DNA surprise, Gretchen believed she was the younges…
 
Surprise! It’s a bonus episode. In recognition of DNA Day, on April 25, we’re dropping a special episode with author Leeanne R. Hay, who recently released her book NPE* A story guide for unexpected DNA discoveries. In this episode, we take a deeper dive into some of the things Leeanne wrote about, from why she wrote the book to NPEs in the media to…
 
Welcome to the season 1 finale of DNA Surprises. In this week’s episode, I am going to share my story. In July, I found out that I am an NPE. I was completely blindsided by not only that discovery but a massive shift in racial identity. I’m going to discuss what my discovery was like and how I’ve processed what happened. I’ll also talk about what h…
 
While a DNA surprise can be a painful and traumatic experience, some NPEs are able to find a silver lining through beautiful new relationships. In this week's episode Rose shares her journey from feeling disconnected from her raised family to establishing a connection with her biological father. Thanks to Rose for sharing her story. Do you want to …
 
In this week’s episode, Jessica shares how her NPE discovery unfolded. She discusses how it’s affected her relationship with her raised family and how she is trying to learn about her biological father, a man she was aware of while growing up. One of the things that struck me most about Jessica’s story is how much it reflects the effects COVID 19 o…
 
In this week’s episode, Lisa reveals how her DNA test uncovered not one, not two, but three NPEs in her family. She shares how her NPE status affected her childhood before she even knew it. Lisa also shares the positive aspects of connecting with her newfound family. Thanks to Lisa for sharing her story. Do you want to share your DNA Surprise story…
 
In this episode, Kristin shares her NPE journey after discovering the truth just four months prior to our conversation. She was completely blindsided by the discovery and shares her shock and confusion over what to do next. She also discusses the new family connections she's made so far while expressing some concern about her raised father's feelin…
 
Whitney's mom told her the truth about her biological father long before she took a DNA test. She learned the truth at 14, 6 years after the tragic loss of the man she believed was her father. In this episode, Whitney shares the long and winding road to connect to her biological father. She offers a compassionate view on the choices the adults in h…
 
Michael had been told he didn't look related to his family his entire life, so when his sisters asked him to take a DNA test for fun, he knew the truth was going to be revealed. In this episode, Michael shares his quest for answers despite both of his biological parents having Alzheimer's. He is also candid about his struggles with mental health in…
 
Summer’s mother told her about her NPE status when she was 13–a secret she kept for decades. It wasn’t until she took a DNA test that she connected with her half-siblings, some of whom (to her shock) already knew about her, too. Summer shares how her relationships are developing despite not living in the same state. She also discusses some of the q…
 
Wendy’s path to finding her biological father is a long and winding road. As a double NPE, she has twice learned that the man she believed was her bio dad was not. Now that Wendy knows the truth about her parentage, she discusses the challenges of building a relationship with her new family, which include a lack of time and differing religious valu…
 
When Diana learned that her biological father is an old family friend, she was completely shocked. But soon after her discovery, many things started making more sense. With the help of a newly found cousin, Diana began making connections with her family members, including an aunt. Unfortunately, Diana’s biological father and brothers haven’t recipr…
 
Crystal's DNA surprise came as a total shock, years after she took her Ancestry DNA test. When her older sister showed up as a half-sibling, Crystal discovered that she is an NPE. She shares the intense emotions that people who experience non-paternal events feel, from sadness to hope. She talks about how connecting with her newfound family is goin…
 
Kerry's suspicions about her NPE status have come and gone throughout the years. As a child, she always felt different from her siblings, but a unique medical condition caused her to push aside any doubts she had about her paternity. By the time she learned the truth about her biological father from a DNA testing kit, her mother had passed, leaving…
 
Yvette shares a story of intergenerational secrets that she unearthed after discovering her DNA surprise in December 2020. ⠀ She learns that not only is she an NPE, but so is her biological father. Yvette also shares what it’s like to realize that she has a very different ethnic background than she previously believed. ⠀ In addition to sharing the …
 
Imagine spitting into a tube, sending off your DNA, and unknowingly turning your life upside down. For me and thousands of others, this is our reality. I'm your host, Alexis Hourselt. In July of 2021, I discovered that I am an NPE - someone who has experienced a non-paternal event. In other words, my biological father isn't who I thought he was. Th…
 
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