One of our clients (we’ll call him Timothy) received a phone call one evening from a woman he did not know. The caller introduced herself as Anna and said, « I am the daughter of your dead brother John. » Timothy was speechless. His older brother had died in a car crash some 30 years earlier, in 1985. As far Timothy knew, John had left no descendants.
After they hung up, Timothy sat down, stunned, to talk with his wife. His own parents were dead and he had no children. Anna could be the only family he had. And yet, and yet . . . How could he know for sure?
The next day, Timothy called us. We explained that we could conduct a DNA fingerprinting test on their purported sister, and compare it with a DNA sample from Timothy. Since Timothy shared the same genes as his deceased brother, half of Anna’s genetic material should be a good match. [For more information on DNA fingerprinting of close relatives, see Family Relationship Testing.
DNA Test Confirms Relationship
As it turns out, they found an even better clue. Their mother had preserved one of John’s baby teeth in a small plastic box. We were able to use this to obtain a positive DNA result. Long story short? A very happy family reunion, as the long-lost sister introduced her own son— who looked amazingly like his long-lost grandfather, Timothy’s dead brother John.
Stories don’t always end so neatly. But today it’s a far cry from crude tests such as dental records (or fingerprints that could be surgically altered) that were once the only way of ascertaining paternity.
While humans share 99-plus percent of their genetic material, every person has a fingerprint that is unique. When we say unique, we mean that the possibility of another person having the same DNA has been estimated by the FBI as 108 trillion to one. Now those are long odds!
Each cell in our body contains all of the genetic information required to reconstitute one individual— from the color of their hair to their vulnerability to certain diseases. Just one sample of skin, semen or blood is all it takes. And because we inherit half of our genes from our mother and half from our father, there are clues to family relationships.
DNA Identification by Tooth
If Timothy’s mother hadn’t preserved her son’s baby tooth, an Uncle DNA test would have been an excellent option for testing since Timothy and John had the same parents.
While this little story may be heart-warming, there is a legal message as well. DNA tests have become court-admissible evidence in many cases. For persons wishing to prove their ancestry—or their innocence, or their inheritance— DNA fingerprinting is now the gold standard.
If you have a burning question that must be answered definitely and scientifically, why wait? Call our office in Broward, Dade or Palm Beach counties, or call our nationwide hotline to find out what you need to know.