Is that DNA Kit What You Expected?
When I was 8, I had a family tree project assignment in my I-TAG program. It was a simple image of a tree with lines to fill in the basic information of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. We were tasked with doing the researching which started by consulting family bibles for details. Back then, family bibles were THE leading source for this type of information. We were also encouraged to talk to our relatives, visit the local library and scroll through microfiche records to gather further details. I was hooked and it was the start of a long search for details.
For years (well beyond turning in the assignment), I would have conversations with my elders in hopes of adding pieces to the puzzle. My paternal grandmother was so inspired by my research that she began dedicating hours into learning about her father whom she knew very little about. I was able to put together a pretty decent tree from the various pre-internet resources.
One thing I knew for certain is that my maternal grandmother was 100% Italian. Regardless of what I knew about any of my other ancestors, this high percentile of Italian lineage meant my mother is at least 50% Italian and my siblings and I are 25%. As a result, I’ve always told people I’m mostly Italian since I carry more in my blood than anything else. So I thought. Ancestry and DNA are not the same thing. I don’t have my mother or grandmother’s darker skin tone, hair color or eyes.
I (mostly) get my physical features from my father’s side of the family. Quite often I’ve been told I’m the spitting image of my father and recently been told by his relatives that they can see my paternal grandmother in me. Whenever I see a photo of myself, I actually see a lot of the same features as my dad’s sisters and my cousin. When I was younger, I didn’t really recognize the similarities, but after relatives said I have the family forehead, I started seeing the resemblances more and more.
A couple years ago Scott and I asked for (and received) DNA testing kits as gifts. The results didn’t surprise me too much, but have left lingering questions in my mind. Not for my ancestral details, but for what people are discovering about themselves as a result of the mass of DNA results. At least once per week, I see someone on Facebook commenting with concerns as to the accuracy of their DNA tests. They’re asking which kit is the best and whether other people have had conflict with the results received.
I’ve only had one test done and it told me a lot about the genes I carry. But if I was using it to trace my ancestry, it would have me searching in completely different parts of Europe than I might have otherwise searched. It has completely turned a blind eye to my maternal ancestry. Perhaps because I don’t carry as many of those genes. I’m not a scientist nor do I claim to be. The most recent training I’ve received about DNA is from Genius Games’ Linkage board game.
From a logical standpoint, the results of my test and what I expected are two entirely different things. I expected to see a high percentage of my breakdown as Italian. Yes, the reports show 100% European ancestry, but the devils is in the details. The bigger question isn’t whether or not I carried those Italian genes, but whether or not my perceived ancestry is the same as the actual ancestry. We always said my grandmother was 100% Italian, but were all her ancestors native to Italy. Did anyone along the way marry someone from elsewhere? Did some of her ancestors live elsewhere then migrate to Italy? Unless we dig deeper into our family tree, tracing back and finding census information, actual birth and death records and try details, we won’t know for certain. Science hasn’t always been what it is now, nor will today’s results be the same as what I would receive in a year or two. One thing is for certain – programs such as 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage and Family Tree aren’t the be all, tell all. They’re simply a glimpse into what we carry in our genes.
So when the results aren’t exactly what you expected, don’t be upset. If you want to know about your history, ask your living ancestors and research your deceased ones. You may learn more about your family than you could from any test.
Have you tried a DNA test?
28 thoughts on “Is that DNA Kit What You Expected?”
Your father and I just received our DNA kits so we will find out more when our results come back. Someone told me that if and when I started doing genealogy tracing I would get hooked and I now am even after only working on our tree for about 6 weeks.
Exactly! Now you understand why I became so engrossed in it after that I-TAG project and why I spent so many years researching! Can’t wait to see what your results show, Mom.
LOL I love that you “mom” has left this wonderful comment here. I have to see a geneticist for my Lupus and some other undiagnosed issues and I think these DNA kits are wonderful insights to undiscovered health issues. Everyone should think about getting them done before starting a family and looking at the health data that can be purchased as an add on.
Meme – I’m excited that “mom” left the message because it really is my mom. My brother had told me she’s been working diligently on our family tree for weeks but I didn’t know it had been 6 weeks! I loved seeing that she left the first comment since she virtually never leaves comments on my posts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the medical side of the kits. I didn’t go into details in the post about the health-related results available, but I’ve been fascinated by the details in ours. Did your geneticist recommend the DNA kit? If so, that’s really cool! Hopefully you’ll uncover something for the undiagnosed issues.
I really want to take one of these DNA test. I’ve been working on our family tree for a while, and it’s addicting. I know this would make it so much more exiting.
It’s funny because I am pretty sure that I am French and Dutch but it would be very interesting to see what it will come up with on there. I wonder how much of a surprise it would be!
I haven’t tried the DNA test yet. I would really like to though. I think it would be really neat to see the results.
My brother has actually done the AncestryDNA test. The results were quite interesting. He has also traced our family history back 600 years.
Ah yes… genealogy is so addictive! And that’s a good thing.
My husband and I did our DNA for our anniversary last fall. I expected a mixture of Irish, English and German. My dad’s parents and their people were born in Germany and settled in Muskegon Michigan where I was born. Turns out I’m 60% Irish with 20 % English and Scottish. The rest is a smattering of West Europe but… no German. Absolutely none. Go figure! haha
my birthday is coming up and I would love to try a DNA kit. I do not know a lot about my family history so it would be exciting to find out what it turns up.
I really want to take one of these DNA tests. I have one at home and can’t wait to do it! I’ve been working on our family tree for a while! I know this would make it even more interesting!
It’s been several months, Claudia. Did you send it in and get the results? What did you think?
I’ve never tried a DNA kit, but it sure would be neat to see the results!
I have not…
I tried it. Some cool info.
I have not done a DNA test
I haven’t done a DNA test but it would be interesting.
I have not .
I have never tried a DNA kit.
I have no plans to ever have my DNA taken and analyzed.
I’ve never used one but I wouldn’t trust a company with my dna lol
Never have but want to!
I had to find out my markers for my stem cell transplant. It turns out my little brother was a perfect match for me. The doctor said that it was perfect that he was a male since I had a hysterectomy a few years before. I also found out that I am 10% African American.
I’ve never tried one.