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. First, here’s a bit of background.
There are four main companies that currently offer DNA tests. Ancestry, FamilyTree DNA, and 23 and Me, and MyHeritage. Professionals in the DNA field recommend testing with all of the 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. You can also upload your Ancestry results for free on MyHeritage. Here’s an explanation about each company.
Ancestry regularly updates the cousin matches and the origin map. The ethnicity estimate is more and more accurate with every update they make. 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. It’s also nice to confirm the countries your ancestors came from.
FamilyTree DNA is just as good as 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 that could be the key to break down your brick wall. The also provide an ethnicity estimate.
23 and Me is by far the most accurate, and the most expensive company to test with.
MyHeritage is trying to get into the DNA world. It’s nice to upload your results for free, and there are more and more people adding their DNA to the website.
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. I can help you!
For more information on DNA tests, the best resource available is at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki
Let me know if you need help with your DNA results. I can help you interpret them, and we'll figure out relationships together! I have solved several adoption cases using DNA!