Kara Rubenstein Deyerin’s story, presented on the December 5, 2023 episode of the Family Twist podcast, is a compelling tale that intertwines personal discovery, identity crisis and the eventual creation of a significant advocacy organization, Right to Know.
A non-practicing attorney with advanced degrees in taxation and trade and investment policy, Kara embarked on what she thought would be a straightforward journey into her ancestral past. This exploration, however, led her down a path that fundamentally altered her understanding of herself and her place in the world.
The DNA Test That Changed Everything
Kara’s odyssey began with a DNA test in January 2018. Her goal was simple: to trace her father’s African ancestry and to share this rich heritage with her three sons. The results, however, were shocking. The test revealed that Kara was 50% Ashkenazi Jewish, completely devoid of the African lineage she had expected. This discovery was more than just a surprise; it dismantled the narrative of her life. The man she had known as her father was not her biological parent, and with this revelation, her sense of identity was deeply shaken.
Facing an Identity Crisis
The aftermath of the DNA test plunged Kara into an identity crisis that resonated on multiple levels. She had to grapple with the loss of her ethnic identity as she had understood it and come to terms with a completely new lineage. This journey was challenging and fraught with emotional turmoil, as Kara navigated a complex landscape of grief, confusion and eventual acceptance of her new heritage.
The Birth of Right to Know
Kara’s personal struggles led her to recognize the broader implications of DNA surprises and the lack of resources and support for individuals in similar situations. In response, she co-founded Right to Know. This organization was born out of a need to provide a support system for those whose genetic identity had been upturned by DNA testing.
Right to Know focuses on several key areas:
Education and Awareness
The organization works to educate the public about the impacts of DNA testing and the experiences of those dealing with misattributed parentage. This includes outreach through various media platforms and speaking engagements.
Understanding the legal complexities surrounding DNA testing and genetic identity, Right to Know advocates for legislative changes that protect and support the rights of individuals dealing with these surprises. This includes efforts to reform laws regarding birth certificates and parental rights.
Mental Health Support
Recognizing the emotional toll of DNA discoveries, the organization provides mental health resources and support. This includes facilitating support groups and developing resources to help individuals and families navigate their new realities.
Right to Know strives to create a community for those affected by DNA surprises. This includes organizing conferences and events where individuals can share experiences, find support, and connect with others in similar situations.
Kara’s Advocacy and Public Outreach
Beyond the formation of Right to Know, Kara has become an influential advocate in the field of genetic identity rights. Her work includes multiple appearances on podcasts, television interviews, and articles where she discusses her DNA surprise, the right to genetic identity, and the complex interplay of genetic information, identity and family dynamics.
Personal Reflections and Future Aspirations
In her blog, Unexpectedly Jewish in Seattle, Kara offers a window into her personal journey of embracing her newfound Jewish heritage. She reflects on the challenges, the learnings, and her evolving understanding of identity and family. As she continues to navigate her path, Kara remains committed to helping others who find themselves on similar journeys.
Kara Rubenstein Deyerin’s story, as shared on the Family Twist podcast, is more than just an individual narrative; it’s a catalyst for change and understanding in the realm of genetic identity. Through her advocacy, the establishment of Right to Know, and her personal writings, Kara provides a voice and a resource for those navigating the complex and often unexpected paths revealed by DNA testing.
Her journey from a personal crisis to becoming a beacon of support and guidance exemplifies the transformative power of embracing one’s true identity and the importance of providing a community for those undergoing similar experiences.