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What an Ancestry DNA Test Revealed About Me

ancestry dna
No Hungarian in My Woodshed

For most of my sixty-four years of life, I believed Robert Gerencser, a Hungarian (please see My Hungarian Grandparents, Paul and Mary Gerencser), was my biological father. I wondered over the years whether “Dad” was my father:

At the age of fifteen, I learned for the first time that Mom got pregnant with me at the age of seventeen, and that she was pregnant when she married Dad in November, 1956.

Two Christmases ago, I decided to have my DNA tested. Six or so weeks later, the answers to doubts and questions were finally revealed: Dad was not my biological father. I was NOT Hungarian, as the graphic above clearly shows. My Ancestry DNA report revealed that I had a brother; that my biological father was a man named Jim Edwards. I also learned that I have half-brothers and sisters, one of whom (Bill, who lives three hours from my home) I met late last year.

I learned that it is likely that my biological father, a truck driver, had a fling with a seventeen-year-old girl, my mother, who was a waitress at The Hub Truck Stop in Bryan, Ohio.

All the parties to this story, except me, are dead. Many questions are left unanswered:

  • Mom was roughly six to eight weeks pregnant when she married Dad. Did she know she was pregnant?
  • Did Dad know Mom was pregnant with another man’s child?
  • Did Mom hide the fact she was pregnant from Dad when she married him?
  • Did my grandparents know about my paternity?

I later learned that my grandparents and aunts and uncles questioned my paternity. How could they not? I literally looked like the milkman’s son. Why didn’t any of them tell me about this? Even when I started asking questions, my concerns were turned away as rumors or gossip. “Surely, Mom would have told you, Butch (my family nickname).” Mom and I were very close. Did she know what I now know and withhold it from me, or did she not know and was as ignorant as I was? Mom died thirty years ago, so there’s no way for me to find out what she actually knew.

I recommend DNA tests. Just remember, you might learn more than you bargained for. 🙂

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Michael B Smith Jr

    Somebody once said “Tell me what you think of your dad and I will tell you what you think of God.”. Boy do I understand the implications of that statement…on so many levels for both of us.

  2. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    At least you now have certainty about what you’d long suspected.

    A few years ago, my brother did an Ancestry DNA test. While we never had any doubts about our parents, I always suspected that our ethnic and racial heritage was more complicated than we were led to believe. Turns out, in addition to the matrilineal Jewish heritage to which my grandmother alluded, but my family only barely acknowledged, we are five percent African* and five percent Middle Eastern (Lebanese), in addition to a few European heritages besides the one expressed in our surname.

    I don’t know whether to be sad or angry that DNA tests can tell the difference between different European and even Middle Eastern, but not African, ancestries.

  3. Avatar

    One of my friends was adopted as an infant and has found her biological parents and a whole bunch of half-siblings through DNA testing. What’s funny too? Her adoptive parents chose an agency that guaranteed all their children were Jewish by heritage – my friend is not a bit Jewish by heritage! Even funnier is that some of her half-siblings are evangelical Christians.

    I would like to do this sometime. I have 7 half-siblings: a half brother from my mom, and 5 half sisters and a half brother from my bio dad. My bio dad was the worst human being – so bad that not a single person cared when he died, which he did, alone, in his hovel of hoarding and trash and meanness. He abused all the kids (except me – my mom left him before he could do that to me). His other kids and I agree that we wouldn’t be surprised if there are other offspring of his out there. We know he cheated on my mom – he probably cheated on their mom too. And there was all the time when their mom left him and he was single. He wasn’t the type to care for or provide for a family.

  4. Avatar

    Ancestry tests are interesting. I have a foreign last name courtesy of my father, but found out to my surprise that I’m 75 percent British; English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh. My profile is a lot like Bruce’s. Now I know why all things Celtic have such an enduring appeal for me.

  5. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    My mother-in-law, who is very into genealogy, pestered us into taking ancestry DNA tests. Now, I was adopted at birth in a major US West Coast city, a very closed adoption through a Catholic agency. Much later I learned that I was the third child of extremely poor parents, who literally couldn’t feed another mouth. True or not? Don’t know. But I am intrigued that it came back that my ancestry is almost all Orkney Islander. That kinda blew me away. Alas, I’m too disabled to really enjoy a trip to see that place.

    Because my parents were very up-front about my adoption and made it clear that my birth mother was doing her best for me and I was very, very wanted, being adopted has never bothered me. I tend to get short with people who pester me repeatedly about not being particularly interested in who my “real” parents are, and tell them that my real parents just don’t happen to be my birth parents, and it isn’t a problem for me. A couple of times, I’ve had to repeat myself on the topic with the same person, at which time I get ruder than just short. Boundaries, people!

  6. Avatar

    I’m at a loss for words. I hope this can give you some measure of peace, if that’s what you seek.

    I’ve wondered about my DNA make up as I know extremely little of my (highly dysfunctional) family despite growing up with in it with many cousins and not being adopted.

  7. Avatar
    Jaqen H'ghar

    Bruce, at least there is no Russian gene in your makeup. and therefore, you can’t be accused of Russian aggression by the religious fanatics. On the other hand, Jeezus’ DNA test (using his holy prepuce) would definitely show that Mary did lose her cherry and there are no parts unknown.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Yep. that’s what I thought when I read my DNA report. At first, I thought Mom’s first cousin — a tall redhead — was my father. He paid a lot of attention to me when I was a baby. He showed up on my DNA report, but my half-brother was a closer familial match.

    • Avatar
      etienne van heerden

      Jaqen, Your only objection to Biblical events boil down to” It didn’t happen because such things can’t happen”. This is an a priori dismissal of the evidence.. With God ALL things are possible.

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        Etienne, first you have to prove your god exists – only then is it reasonable to attribute unlikely events to it.

        It’s considerably more likely that the Bible stories are just that, mere stories, and that they didn’t actually happen. People have been telling one another tall tales for thousands of years, and I don’t see any reason that we should consider Biblical events more real than, say, the Odyssey or Aesop’s Fables.

        • Avatar
          etienne van heerden

          Astreja, the Bible has around a 1000 prophesies of which around half have already been fulfilled and the only book on the planet that tells history in advance. How would that be possible if it wasn’t the word of God.?

          • Avatar

            Bullshit, Etienne. Those so-called “prophesies” are a combination of outright fiction (for instance, Egypt and Tyre were not destroyed) and vague “Texas sharpshooter fallacy” retcons of events.

            I reject your assertion. The Bible is 100% a human work, and your god an unproven fiction, until demonstrated to my satisfaction. Not your satisfaction, because you seem to be satisfied with very little – you’re incapable of assessing Biblical claims empirically or with proper historical methodology. You’re just another clueless, superstitious git.

          • Avatar
            MJ Lisbeth

            Etienne, it depends on what you mean by “fulfilled.” There’s always someone who thinks any given event is a “fulfillment” of a prophecy.

            For example, according to Isaiah 17:1 an oracle said that “Damascus will no longer be a city, but will become a heap of ruins. Damascus has been sacked a number of times over the centuries but was never wiped off the map. Last time I checked (just before I wrote this reply!), it was a thriving city of a million people. I brought this up to a pastor/scholar (self-styled, anyway) who said that because Damascus is not the capital of Syria–and hasn’t been the capital of anything in centuries–it’s a fulfillment of the prophecy because Damascus was built to be a capital.

            Also, at least one Biblical “prophet” tacitly admitted that he wasn’t much of a prophet. Ezekiel, in Chapter 26, predicts that Nebuchadnezzar’s army would conquer Tyre and plunder its wealth. But in Chapter 29, he admitted that the troops took no loot.

            I find it amusing when people who believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God stretch their dialectical and rhetorical skills (such as they are) to say that any inconsistencies in the text are not proof of the Book’s infallibility and that we shouldn’t read the inerrant word of God so literally.

          • Avatar
            MJ Lisbeth

            Etienne–It all depends on what you mean by “fulfilled.” Lots of people thought the election of Donald Trump was the fulfillment of one Biblical prophecy or another.

            Also, I could cite examples of prophecies that never came true. For one, there’s Isaiah 17, which predicted that Damascus would “no longer be a city, but be a heap of ruins.” The city has been sacked a number of times over the centuries but, the last time I looked (right before I wrote this!), it was a thriving metropolis of a million residents True, it’s not the capital of Syria or anything else, as it was at the time of the prophecy. Some have used that fact to say that Isaiah’s prophecy came true because Damascus was built to be the capital.

            Then there is Ezekiel, who actually retracts a prophecy. In Chapter 26, he predicts that Nebuchadnezzar’s army would conquer Tyre and plunder its wealth. But in Chapter 29, written some years later, Ezekiel admits that that the invading soldiers took no loot.

            I find it amusing when people who say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God tell us that we shouldn’t be “literal”–or tell us, in some other way, that we’re not reading the Bible the “right” way– when we point out such inconsistencies.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            List ten prophecies you think have been fulfilled. These must be specific prophecies that can be explained no other way (i.e. on January 6, 1862 Abraham Lincoln prophesied the 1/6/21 resurrection, date, time, place or Genghis Khan predicted Neil Armstrong would walk on the moon on July 21 at 02:56 UTC).

          • Avatar
            Jaqen H'ghar

            Etienne, a man makes dozen prophesies daily of which MORE than half have always been fulfilled (e.g., a man will pee and poop more than once a day, will get some benefits tonight, and might get emails from Bruce). A man can also see and speak to dead people. A man IS the Word made flesh. No God needed again.

          • Avatar
            Jaqen H'ghar

            Etienne, plenty others. Keep imagining your God and include Isis and Zeus if you are capable. At least Isis and Zeus’ undead remain undead. All of your God’s undead died (again).

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            Etienne, I don’t believe for an instant that Jesus came back from the dead. It’s just a story. Just. A. Fucking. Story. Grow up.

          • Avatar
            Jaqen H'ghar

            Etienne, big fat hairy deal! A man dies each night and rises each morning on his own. No God needed.

        • Avatar
          etienne van heerden

          Jaqen, I note that the “reply” functions for yourself,Astreja M J Lisbeth and Bruce for your new comments have been disabled.That is so typical of Atheists to avoid being confronted with factual answers. So let’s start with Astreja who claims that Egypt and Tyre was never destroyed .In the case of Egypt if he means the then capital of Egypt Memphis, as per Jeremiah 46:19 then it is a lie as Memphis was destroyed by Ashurbanipal between 668-627 BC and Tyre was destroyed by Alexander The Great around 332 BC.(outside Biblical source Encyclopedia Britannica.)
          To make things more specific in terms of detail, i will provide at least 10 prophesies about Jesus, written centuries before His birth that were fulfilled
          1)The tribe from which he would be born
          2)The place he would be born
          3)His name
          4)The place where He would grow up
          5)His father’s occupation
          6)That he would perform miracles
          7)That he would enter Jerusalem on a donkey with the crowds chanting Him to become king
          8)That he would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
          9)That the money would be used to buy a potters field
          10)That he would be crucified (when the Jewish method of execution was by stoning)
          11)That He would raise from the dead in 3 days
          And then off coarse Jesus himself prophesied that His legacy would be proclaimed to all corners of the earth for all generations to come ( and here we are 2000 years later)

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            You are banned.

            The reason you can’t comment below certain names is because comment threads are only nested five deep. Instead of thinking there might be a technical reason for your inability to comment below a particular name, you impugn our character instead.

            No further comment from you will be approved. I’m sure Jesus is happy with your behavior. 😈😈🤣🤣

          • Avatar

            Etienne, I’m surprised that you use Jesus prophecies as your leading examples. I’m probably at the lower end of Bible knowledge as regards commenters on this blog, but it’s clear even to me that both the nativity and resurrection are fictional narratives, written after the events (especially the nativity, which is painful in its contradictions, contrivances, and broken philosophy) they purport to relate. The resurrection is unlikely in the extreme. Apart from the fact that Rome would never have allowed a crucified criminal to be granted a proper burial, it’s clear in the desperation of the confused reports that the disciples were completely shocked by the death of their ‘leader’, so invented, intentionally or otherwise, a narrative whereby he came back to life.

          • Avatar
            Jaqen H'ghar

            Etienne, like a dog returning to his buried bone, you can’t resist returning to this site. Therefore, here is a man’s response to your rhetorical query, “would you die for a lie?” Have you heard of Alisha Babbitt?

          • Avatar

            Etienne, I’m glad you’ve been banned (again!) You are the vomit -and- the dog who keeps returning to it.

            You really are grasping at straws. The capital of Egypt is not Egypt. (rolls eyes)

            For accusing me of lying – something that I never forgive – it is my deeply-felt desire that Real Life treat you very, very badly until your faith is just a distant and vaguely distasteful memory.

  8. Avatar

    LOL. My maiden name was Rogers. Simple, right? No fuss? And yet people seemed to want to default to Rodgers all the time. Now, I’ve had my husband’s Finnish name for almost 40 years. Actual Finnish people pronounce it starting with a “v” sound and a short “i” sound. Husband and his siblings pronounce it with a long “i,” not the Finnish way as when their grandpa came through Ellis Island around 1903 the immigration officials mangled it. And our sons pronounce it closer to the Finnish version, but Americanized!

    So if you holler at me with any kind of pronunciation, I’m good with it! Just don’t call me Rebecca (I’m Becky). 😉

  9. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    Add just a few more percentages of German Bruce and we could be related. 😀

    Now, what is really interesting is Becky there has one of my ancestor’s last name. Our Rogers headed to Canada and were Empire Loyalists.

  10. Avatar

    Hey Zoe, maybe we are related! I know my dad’s father’s side (Rogers) came from around Johnson City, TN and went to Tiptonville, TN, on Reelfoot Lake. (The lake was created from that New Madrid earthquake and the Mississippi River flowed backward in 1812…true story.) The family ended up around Memphis, TN. Some of them are lovely people to me, but most of them are members of the Church of Christ with predictable results.

  11. Avatar

    Turns out Etienne is a bit paranoid. You let him say his piece, over and over again. And it is him quoting the Bible over and over again. He’s a one trick pony, not worth the price of entertainment.

  12. Avatar

    Dude, you’re paranoid. And no, taking a happening and making it “fit” isn’t prophecy. I realize that Christian apologists do this all the time, starting with a prophecy and then cramming anything into it.

    Want to be listened to by non-fundie Christians? Why don’t you try loving your neighbor as yourself, visiting the widows, orphans, and those in prison, and generally putting Christ’s love for mankind into your life? Too hard? Too bad, because you have no chance of getting anyone to believe your pathetic ideology without it. Oh, I’m sure you snare people who are hurting and screw their lives over. But without your hatred of others not like you, you have nothing we want.

  13. Avatar
    Jaqen H'ghar

    Etienne, like a dog returning to its buried bones, you can’t resist returning to this site. Therefore, here is a man’s response to your rhetorical query, “would you die for a lie?”. Have you heard of Alisha Babbitt?

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Bruce Gerencser