One of my favorite hobbies is genealogy. I could spend all day researching family trees. A few years ago, I kicked it up a notch and added DNA testing to the mix. It has been a total game changer. Last year, I helped a dear friend discover who her biological dad was through DNA testing. I’m asked a lot of questions about DNA so I thought I would share my 5 tips for doing DNA testing.
5 Tips For DNA Testing
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1. WHO DO I TEST?
Feeling sunk cause you have no one to test besides yourself—— That’s okay too! If you are an adoptee, or have no living relatives, you are just fine testing yourself.
2. The Ethnicity Estimate is just that. An estimate.
Two Full siblings with the same parents. Honestly, the one on top seems to have inherited more paternal traits, and the one below, more maternal.
This is the estimate from Family Tree DNA for the first person:
There are differences for sure but it’s pretty obvious that he’s of European descent.
3. The #1 thing I see in DNA forums - I know I’m of Native American descent - why is it missing?
The Native American issue is complex, and I would refer questions to a qualified forum.
There are several explanations. One possibility is that that family lore is just that. Another possibility is that it was your Great Great Great Grandma, and by then the percentage is small.
Look at it this way:
- Great Great Great Grandma 100%
- Great Great Grandma 50%
- Great Grandma 25%
- Grandma: 12.5%
- Your Parent: 6%
- You: 3%
Other times, Native American shows up loud and clear:
4. Which Company Do I Test With?
- Testing is simply spitting into a tube
- User friendly interface
- in depth viewing of matches trees requires subscription to services
- Database is not as user friendly
- Offer more complex DNA testing for specific types
(Y- DNA for males, Maternal DNA for women)
-Good start if your looking to break down a brick wall from immigration
- database of matches is not as user friendly
- testing is spitting in a tube
-offer additional health information with an increased price
5. EVERY FAMILY HAS SECRETS
The beautiful thing is that even though you may know your family backwards and forwards, there are others that don’t. There is a huge group of adoptees using DNA testing to make connections with their bio families. Some are merely looking for health info and general ethnicity results to get a sense of “who they are”. Others are looking for their parents. Some have happy reunions, and some don’t. It's like Forest Gump's box of chocolate. You never know what your gonna get.
My adopted friend was able to connect with her biological father who never knew she existed. Yesterday, she sat at the family table for Thanksgiving dinner. Together, with her father and 5 half siblings. All because people she has never met tested their DNA. With a little bit of genealogy research, a little education on how DNA works, and a little detective work, she now knows her family. By testing your DNA, even if you are not a close match, you are still filling in gaps for this community of searchers.
I urge everyone to test. It makes a perfect gift to give and it's always a huge hit when I gift a DNA kit! Over the next few weeks I will be sharing more tips and tricks on using your DNA results. I can’t wait to share my favorite hobby with you!