An adoptee, donor conceived person, and two people with an NPE walk into a restaurant…David Wrate, Gregory Loy, Alesia Cohen Weiss, and Kara Rubinstein Deyerin met while doing an interview for Kiro News 7, “DNA Home Test Kits Reveal Family Secrets, Bring Unexpected Trauma.” They believe people with a DNA surprise and genetic identity issues need access to support and laws related to genetic information, identity, and family dynamics need to be updated to reflect the changing technology and social dynamics of the times. Over dinner after their interview, this belief developed into Right to Know.
With over-the-counter DNA testing, there is no such thing as anonymity any more. Adoption and donor conceived laws need to be updated with this reality. And family secrets that could be locked in the closet in the past, can no longer remain hidden. We need laws that reflect our right to know our genetic identity.
Parents need to understand the devastating affects of suddenly learning you are not who you thought you were. Families now come in all shapes and sizes. We need to be open with children about their genetic parentage so there are no shocking surprises.
There should be no shame in knowing your genetic heritage.
KARA Rubinstein Deyerin
Kara is a non-practicing attorney with an LLM in Taxation and a master’s in Trade & Investment Policy. In January 2018, she wanted to see where in Africa her father’s family came from. Her over-the-counter DNA test revealed she was 50% something, but she had zero African DNA. This meant the man on her birth certificate couldn’t possibly be her genetic father. She lost her ethnic identity with the click of a mouse. Kara discovered she was 50% Jewish. The DNA pandora’s box she opened led to an identity crisis. Because there were few resources for people with misattributed parentage and a lack of legal rights, she co-founded Right to Know. Kara is leading advocate for genetic identity rights and people impacted by misattributed parentage. She has appeared on many podcasts, in multiple television interviews and articles, and is a frequent speaker on her DNA surprise, the right to know, and the complex intersection of genetic information, identity, and family dynamics. Read her blog about being Unexpectedly Jewish in Seattle.
Kara is our Board President. [email protected]
Sheridan (she/her), a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and trained family mediator, is the heart behind Sliding Doors Counseling.
Her journey into the world of high-conflict relationships, life transitions, and DNA surprises is not just professional—it’s deeply personal. Growing up, she believed her father had died by suicide, a narrative that shaped her early life. However, a DNA test in 2018 revealed a different truth: the man she thought was her father wasn’t her biological parent. This revelation reshaped Sheridan’s understanding of mental health and identity, fueling her passion to help others on similar paths.
Sheridan has shared her insights on DNA podcasts and as a public speaker, addressing topics such as the impact of perceived genetic history on personal identity and her own mental health journey and the importance of coping skills to manage anxiety.
Sheridan is also a regular human—sometimes anxious, occasionally awkward, and mostly funny. For more insights and updates, follow Sheridan on Instagram @slidingdoorscounseling and on Facebook at Sliding Doors Counseling.
Sheridan is an At Large Board Member. [email protected]
Brad is a police officer in the Dallas, Texas area. He is married and has three children. For the first 48 years of his life, Brad believed he was raised by his biological family. That changed in 2019 when someone he matched from an Ancestry DNA test contacted him. In less than 24 hours Brad became a Late Discovery Adoptee with a MPE. Since that time he is in reunion with several biological family members including his biological father and four siblings. He is passionate about the right of every person to know their true genetic identity. While he knows his biological history, he still has to go to court if he wants to have his records unsealed. Brad has written essays and an article for Severance Magazine and is currently working on other essays and a memoir. You can find him on Instagram @a_late_discovery.
Brad is our Secretary. [email protected]
David Berry is the Founder/President of DB Dynamo, a digital media agency based in Miami, FL, with a client roster that has included BMW, 1-800 PetMeds, AVIS/Budget, and the University of Miami, among others. In 2017, he learned that he is donor-conceived, and in 2021 he learned that he is the biological son of his mother’s fertility doctor. Since then, David has used his story to aid in the passage of fertility fraud legislation, both in New York State, and at the federal level.
David has an MBA from Florida International University and is also an adjunct professor of digital advertising at the University of Miami School of Communications, and at the Honors College at Florida International University.
David is our Board Treasurer. [email protected]
Debbie Olson is a Certified Life Coach, founder of DNA Surprise Network and co-founder of DNA Surprise Retreat. She helps others navigate life’s path after having a DNA Surprise, having experienced her own. Debbie is a former paralegal with over 20 years of experience in that field. Possessing skills of empathy, understanding, and great communication, she is an ideal person to work with. She believes no matter where you are now, it is where you desire to be that is most important.
She was raised believing her biological father did not want her, and eventually she was told he was deceased. After taking an over-the-counter DNA test, she matched with an unknown half-sister in 2019. With this connection, she learned her biological father was alive, and had in fact looked for her.
She’s an advocate for animals serving on the board of East Idaho Spay Neuter Coalition and is a key player in the Snake River Animal Shelter’s biggest yearly fundraiser. Both are nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations that help save animals lives.
Debbie can be found on Instagram and Facebook at DNA Surprise Network or at DNA Surprise Network.
Debbie is our Mental Health Support Program Board Member. [email protected]
OUR AMAZING VOLUNTEERS
Kris PAGE Swenson
Kris is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis who has a passion for helping people. With degrees in Sociology and Philosophy from the University of Indianapolis and a Masters in Theology and Critical Theory from Duke University, Kris has a well-rounded academic background that informs her work. Her career has been diverse, starting as an employment consultant and program manager for people with disabilities, and later pursuing her love for bookselling without losing sight of her desire to aid others. Currently, Kris continues to work with those with disabilities and writes articles on mood disorders and genetic identity issues.
Kris’s personal experience with a heart attack led her to volunteer with the Right to Know organization, which promotes awareness about the importance of genetic information. After discovering that early onset cardiovascular disease was prevalent in her biological family, Kris believes that everyone should have access to aggressive early diagnostic testing. Her dedication to helping others drives her work, and she strives to make a positive impact on those around her.
Kris is our Bear Witness Program Coordinator. [email protected]
Traci discovered through an over the counter DNA test that she was donor conceived, and that her biological father was her mother’s own OBGYN. Based on existing donor conceived laws, children resulting from donor fraud have little to no grounds to request DNA tests, medical records, medical history, find donor siblings, or receive settlements for emotional/medical damages. Since her discovery, Traci launched donordeceived.org to capture the growing list of fertility fraud cases and the need for legislation change around 3rd party conception. Her goal is to expand legal and mental health support to those struggling with their DC discoveries and to drive systematic change in the fertility industry.
Traci is our DCP Legislative Program Manager.
Jordan is a Google advertising and SEO apprentice with a degree in software development. Jordan’s desire to combine his love of new technology and helping others has brought him as an intern at RightToKnow. While he may not be affected by any genetic surprise, Jordan is a neurodivergent person and understands the importance of mental health. He hopes to use this opportunity to both further his skills and bring more awareness to the DC/NPE/MPE community.
Mental Health advisory Board
Not only does Jodi serve on our Mental Health Advisory Board, she is also our Continuing Education Program Administrator.
Jodi’s passion for the MPE population was born from her own 2016 DNA discovery, leading her to create the Sex, Lies & The Truth podcast, the Finding Family blog on Psychology Today and pioneering the only clinical training for mental health professionals she coined, Parental Identity Discovery™. Jodi uses her expertise to guide people and their families through the unique and challenging process of discovering surprise DNA revelations and the necessary skills to cope with them.
Jodi received a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University in San Rafael and obtained licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2004. She is currently a doctoral student at Touro University where she expects to receive a PsyD in Human and Organizational Psychology in 2022. She is recognized for an empathic and direct style in connecting with clients and is skilled at dealing with difficult issues in trauma and family dynamics. Trained by EMDR founder Francine Shapiro, she is an expert in addressing grief, trauma, feelings of belonging, identity confusion, rejection, worth and self-esteem.
Jodi is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist throughout California via secure teletherapy.
Joni understands that finding a family member through adoption search/reunion or DNA discovery is just the beginning of the journey, not the endpoint. The emotional reactions come in layers, and she helps people work through each complex feeling and the question of identity and relationship as we revise your personal narrative to include this new information.
With over 25 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in families created through adoption and third-party reproduction, Joni Mantell, LCSW, Founder and Director of the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center, is also personally privy to the complexities of genetic bewilderment having undergone her own surprising DNA discovery: that she, herself, was donor conceived. The unique juxtaposition of her professional specialties and personal story—allowing her insight from both the perspective of expert and subject—has given her a deep understanding and passion for working with individuals and families navigating the intricate emotional, identity, self-esteem, and relationship issues related to adoption, donor conception, or other unexpected family matches (NPE).
Leslie is a therapist specializing in issues that impact families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. For three decades she’s been sharing her expertise on these topics at conferences and events across the country and around the world. She relinquished two sons for adoption in the mid-1960s and a quarter of a century later, gave birth and raised IVF twins. Her experiences and her extensive academic training give her a unique perspective into alternate methods of building a family. The tremendous losses inherent in adoption and 3rd party reproduction are seldom addressed ahead of time with families, which sets them up for irreparable damage and dysfunction.
Leslie works with families and individuals to bridge that gap and with those contemplating contact with DNA relatives. Without preparation, doors are often slammed shut, never to be opened again. Beyond working with clients, Leslie’s passion is educating therapists. She offers on-line supervision in Adoption Competency and various on-line resources to spread the word: Openness and preparation are not optional, but essential!
Her story is included in the book The Girls Who Went Away and the documentary A Girl Like Her. Leslie was interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, featured in Dan Rather’s report; Adoption or Abduction and appeared on the Katie Couric Show along with her oldest son. She has appeared on CNN and is a consultant to those being reunited on TLC’s Long Lost Family.
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