Jun 4, 2014 - Stories

Connecting Cousins

Stephanie Griffith-Jackson always believed her ancestry was diverse, but she never suspected her DNA would lead her to France.Stephanie Jackson

Interested in her African American ancestry and her family health history, Stephanie tested with 23andMe to learn more. The results surprised her.

“I’ve always been a mutt, and proud of it but this takes it to a whole new level,” Stephanie said.

African and European Ancestry

She learned that along with her African ancestry she had a much larger percentage of European ancestry than she expected. With a little more research into her genealogy, Stephanie discovered that her great-grandfather was Welsh.   He married her great-grandmother, who was African American, in the early 1900’s.

“It’s tough to find information on that side of the family, because after the wedding, my great-grandfather’s family disowned him for marrying outside his race,” she said. “It makes me want to cry to think about that story.  He risked everything for love.”

Connecting to Other Cultures

The more Stephanie learned about the “various and wonderful cultures” she came from, the more she wanted to connect with them.

Using 23andMe’s DNA Relatives tool, Stephanie reached out to several distant cousins, including one living in France. This cousin turned out to be an ex-pat Californian named Terry. Terry and Stephanie connected through 23andMe, and then started communicating online.  They found that they have a remarkable amount of similarities.


When the pair had a chance to get together in California, where Stephanie now lives. The two distant cousins got along like childhood best friends.

“When we first saw each other, we screamed, hugged and cried,” said Stephanie. “We stayed up until four in the morning.  We were connecting, so we didn’t want to stop talking.  It was like we had known each other forever.  It was strange. I felt like I’d already met her like I already knew her.”

The pair also found that they shared a strong interest in genealogy.   Stephanie has been exploring her African roots and recently took a trip to Africa.  She even started a website for people who wanted to explore their genealogies.

“I will never be the same after getting my DNA tested,” Stephanie says.  “I’ll never think of myself in the same way. We are all connected. We are all family.”

Stephanie continues to research her genealogy, including her Native American and Portuguese roots on her mother’s side.  She and Terry talk every day.

“I’m so happy to have found 23andMe,” said Stephanie.  “I have discovered that color doesn’t separate us.  I truly believe that if everyone had the opportunity to have their DNA tested, it would do a lot to lessen prejudice in the world and bring people closer together.”

23andMe provides genetic testing services for informational purposes; your results may or may not help you to search for or identify relatives or family members.


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