I think at some point in our lives, we all desire to know where we came from. Who are our ancestors? Who am I related to? Are those old family stories really true? Answering questions about your past can be personally enlightening, and it’s pretty amazing we can do that now with home testing DNA kits. I gave Ancestry.com a try a few years ago and continue to be fascinated by the results.
When I was little, one of my favorite family stories was about my great-great-(great?) grandmother who was supposedly a Cherokee Indian princess who fell in love with a settler from Ireland, or possibly Wales. When her tribe was forced to leave the area, she stayed with her husband in the mountains of Alabama and started a family, from which we descended. I loved this story and always imagined myself an Indian princess growing up. I even dressed like one for Halloween one year. So I jumped at the chance to get my DNA tested one Christmas when Ancestry.com was having a half-price special.
What is DNA?
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is found in every living cell and is basically the “blueprints” to our construction. It is divided up into chromosomes, which are in turn divided into genes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes arranged in a double helix. In humans, the 23rd chromosome is either an X-chromosome or a Y-chromosome, and determines if we are male or female. Women have two X-chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y.
How the DNA Test Kits Work
Most DNA testing kit places work the same way – you order the kit from the website, they send a collection container to you, then you swab your cheek or spit in a tube and send it off to be tested. Results will be sent to you in six to eight weeks. You’ll get a breakdown of your genetic makeup, usually with areas and percentages. Your results may surprise you! Another thing to note- sometimes your ancestry results will change as they collect more data and get more accurate.
Check out My DNA Results:
Looks like 1% of me may be Indian Princess after all! lol
How Do I Choose a DNA Testing Place?
When you start shopping around for testing places, you may get bogged down with all the options available. AncestryDNA, TellemeGen, 23andMe, MyHeritage and more offer similar services. I suggest doing some research and looking at more than just the DNA results, since some sites also do things like family trees, matching you up with relatives and offer continuous updates as the data evolves. For example, this review of AncestryDNA breaks down the advantages and disadvantages, along with things like number of users and price points. You might also want to consider using the same site other family members are already a part of. I was instantly connected with several long-lost cousins after my DNA results were processed!
What Can I do with My Results?
I really enjoyed finding out my family background and I got a little bit of validation with my tiny percentage of Native American, since it was right in the area where it was supposed to be. You can use your results to help build your family tree and do more research into your family history and distant relatives. The more info you enter on the websites, the more you’ll get back and the more connections you’ll make.
I’d love to hear your experience if you’ve had your DNA tested- any surprises?