There are a lot of reasons people test their DNA. Some want answers about where their ancestors came from. Others were adopted and want to find relatives. No matter what the reasons are, get ready for some possible surprises in your results. Here’s a bit of background, first.
There are three companies that currently offer DNA tests. Ancestry, FamilyTree DNA, and 23 and Me. Professionals in the DNA field recommend testing with all three companies, which can get pricey. Here’s a little hint: it is cheaper to get the Ancestry test, and then upload those results for $39 to FamilyTree DNA. All three offer different benefits.
Ancestry is the least accurate, although they just updated the cousin matches and the origin maps, and they may be a little more accurate. The maps generally are not very accurate at all on Ancestry. The main benefit is the volume of people who have taken the DNA test. You are much more likely to find a cousin on Ancestry.
FamilyTree DNA is more accurate than Ancestry, although the volume is not nearly the same as Ancestry. Still, you may find cousins on FamilyTree DNA that are not on Ancestry, and the maps are more accurate.
23 and Me is by far the most accurate, and the most expensive company to test with.
Here are the 5 surprises you could learn from your DNA:
1. If you test with 23 and Me, you can learn about hereditary conditions such as cystic fibrosis, or hereditary hearing loss. You can learn about hair loss and food preferences. Be prepared to find out information that may be concerning, that could also be very helpful.
2. If you are male and adopted, you can take a YDNA test, which tests your Y chromosome. This will be compared with others who have taken the YDNA test, and you can quickly find out your father’s surname if you find the right matches.
3. You may find that your ancestors are not where you thought they were from. There may be some skeletons in your family closet. Infidelity in the past was more common than we think. Be prepared to find out that you are not actually related to your great-grandpa. This could be a great thing-- you can identify more cousins and add to your family tree!
4. You don’t really have Native American blood in you. This is a common belief by many people, that they have a Native American ancestor. So many families have perpetuated these stories, but they are very rarely true. Be ready to embrace where your ancestors really came from.
5. Many people think they’ll be able to easily find their ancestors by a DNA test. It can be very disappointing to realize that the only way to identify your ancestors through DNA is to compare trees with cousins. It is also surprising to many people that the DNA tests do not tell you how you’re related to your cousins. It could be any of your ancestral lines. Don’t despair-- there are ways to figure it out, but it will take a lot of time and research.
For more information on DNA tests, the best resource available is at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki
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