Tag Archives: Emotions

Risks in DNA Searches

DNA testing can be used in many fields including archeology, paternity, medical history, law enforcement forensics, and even extraterrestrial and pet breed testing. But today I’m talking about the ever popular kits advertised on TV these days. DNA testing is a wonderful tool for ancestry searching, but it can have some unexpected negatives if people aren’t careful.

Many of my readers already know that I was orphaned at a very young age, sent into the foster care system and later adopted. I secretly searched for my birth family during my growing-up years, but continued my search in earnest after my adopted parents passed away. Knowing they were unable to have children of their own, I hadn’t wanted them to know I was searching for fear it would hurt them. We were/are real people with real emotions.

I’m afraid too many people take the DNA test and wait for the results informing them they are a certain percentage this nationality and a different percentage of another and treat it as a game. The connection is so far away, it’s just exciting and fun to know where in the world one started. That’s all well and good, but sometimes people forget these ancestors were real people, with feelings and stories, tragic and wonderful.

Some people may still be alive, and although they may have joined one of the search organizations, that doesn’t mean another member should inquire information from this person without trying to be thoughtful, considerate and/or diplomatic in their query. The ancestry sites try very hard to protect people’s privacy, especially those still living, but some members don’t realize they themselves need to be aware of protecting someone’s privacy, too.

For example, a relative of mine through marriage found some personal information about someone closely related and, without thinking it through, proceeded to copy that information and email it to both another relative and to me, thus violating the person’s privacy who was the subject of the information. As a result, feelings were hurt and this inconsiderate relative is no longer spoken to by several family members. The information was none of that relative’s business and should not have been forwarded so blatantly, however innocent the intentions.

Another case comes to mind, even more serious. I have a friend whose husband wanted to get his DNA done and sent in his sample. My friend had escaped an abusive relationship years before, but at that time this abusive person told her if he ever found out where she was, he’d kill her. I was concerned that her abusive ex, might use an ancestry search company to find her. He had already tried other methods, she told me. There are scammers everywhere. There is always a possibility they could lurk within an innocent source. So, I’m real careful on any site that is open to the public.

With all that said, I’m now 76 years old now and joyfully still finding family members; two other sisters, whom I plan to meet soon, and, sadly, I learned of the death of my brother and mother. Needless to say, it’s an emotional time for me right now, but I’m grateful to know.

Ten years ago I wrote in a short story that, “I pray I live long enough to be reunited with the rest of my family. Even if success proves elusive, I’ll continue to search. I’ll continue to dream.” I believe that finally my dream is coming to fruition. Thanks to God, and to DNA testing!


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under How To, internet, life, musings


Sia McKye

We all have things that make us feel good; things, which bring us, comfort, or lift our heart. Maybe it’s a snatch of song, the scent of cookies baking, watching kittens play, the sound of a baby’s delighted laugh. The first snowfall and the quiet hush of peace and beauty it brings to our heart. It’s all about atmosphere. Sometimes atmosphere is something that happens, other times it’s something we invoke.

When I’m not in the mood to do household tasks, but know it has to be done, I play music with a strong beat and rhythm. Want to set a party mood, music again. Music and scent has always been a big thing in my life. Music makes me feel good, adds energy and can reset my mood. Music is a tool I’ve used to give the atmosphere of peace and serenity after an argument or so my baby could sleep. After a stressful day out in the world I long for the comfort of home. I light my scented candles, turn on music, change into something comfortable—lounge pants, oversize shirt, a pair of soft socks or barefoot. If it’s cold and dreary, cooking special foods for dinner which call upon memories of growing up or happy times. Surround myself with cozy things to snuggle to on a cold winter’s night, a funny movie, the smell of popcorn, a down comforter, a cat in my lap, a dog at my feet, and my family around me. A plate of homemade cookies, the snap and crackle of a fire all are atmospheric things of comfort I deliberately set up in my environment.

How do you set the atmosphere in your writing? We want to show not tell, so how do you show the mood and tone surrounding your characters? Dialog will show but what do you do with your ‘scene’ that gives a clue to your atmosphere.

What makes you feel good, brings comfort, invokes happiness or laughter?
At the end of the day or the close of a long week, what does your mind leapt to that spells comfort? How do you give that to your readers? How do your characters or scene reflect that?

What sets the mood of fear or caution? What suggests anger or danger without a word being said?

What comes to mind:  Seeing a cowering dog, tail between its legs, dark clouds boiling on the horizon, circling of vultures over a copse of trees, or a house shrouded in fog on a dark night, maybe footsteps in the night behind you. The squeal of tires, crash of broken glass; what comes to mind as you approach a door and hear the screaming of obscenities and a thump against a wall.

Setting atmosphere and emotions are important in our stories. Our characters represent real life. We want to touch our readers with something they identify with. We want to touch their emotions and their memories with our writing. It’s your readers’ emotions and memories that help layer your stories and make your characters multi-dimensional.

When you need to set a particular tone or mood, what do you do to put yourself there first? Sound? Touch? Scent? How do you set your scene so your readers feel and see it, without drowning them in words?


Filed under writing