Based on our genetic ancestry test results, we discovered we have over 3,000 DNA  relatives combined. We contacted all our new DNA relatives and invited them to  participate in the Belongingness project, exploring what identity is and how we are all  connected to one another.  

After contacting our relatives, we each booked and had 10 meetings with 10 different  DNA relatives of all ages and from all parts of the world in March 2021. Through these  online meetings and conversations that lasted for roughly an hour each, we looked to  learn more about our connection, why participants took the genetic test, what they were  looking for, and whether they had found what they were after. Together we talked  through the complexity of our interconnections that define part of our identities and  discovered new meanings to old ideas.

We used landmark points to represent the faces. The names of the participants and our DNA relatives are abbreviated for the purpose of anonymity. Everyone involved consented to the publication of these stories, images and  audio recordings.  

Sandra :: S from USA, living in USA

S and I share two small DNA segments, one in chromosome 9 and another in one the chromosomes X. We have a total of 0.33% shared DNA. Based on this, it can be inferred that we are 4th cousins so we might have a common ancestor approximately 5 generations ago.

By doing her ancestry genetic test, S found out that her father with whom she grew up was not her biological father. Something that she already suspected because of the physical characteristics of their parents with respect to herself and also because since she was little her older sister always told her that her real dad was not her real dad but her mother never confirmed it.

Through her ancestry genetic test, she matched with a half-sister that she did not know before. Her new half-sister knew who her father was and she was able to share with S his name and pictures. S was shocked to see how much she looked like her biological father. Her father had died in 2014 so she will not get to know him but S is connecting with her new relatives, now she has 4 half-siblings from his side. We are connected through her father and my mother. S already has a family tree from her father's side so when a new person connects with her, she tries to place them in their line. We could not get very far in how I fit in her new puzzle.

We reflect about different forms of unexpected results we can get from a DNA test and how these results could affect us, could affect our health or our emotional state. We went through different examples of unexpected results we both have experienced, directly or indirectly. Aside from our DNA connection, we connect at a personal level, we both love to travel and to be at the ocean but we also talked about other passions and heard breaking stories.

For S, belongingness is to be connected in a variation of relationships, the community that you have that supports you and loves you, in her case her mother´s family. In my case too.