American Heritage, Part II

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There may be one or two eagle-eyed readers among you who might remember back towards the end of May when I wrote a little bit about my thoughts on family lineage. In that post, I mentioned how I was planning on soon taking a DNA test. Not only was I curious to confirm my father’s DNA findings when he took his, but I also wanted to see just what kind of unique genetic composition it is that I’m carrying around with me each and every single day. I mentioned that I’m perfectly fine aligning myself as nothing more than an American, but there were a lot lingering questions after my dad’s test. Was there really any Irish blood in our family line? Was there going to be a good chunk of Scandinavian in my DNA, too? Furthermore, and here’s the biggest question: Was this organization going to discover relatives that I’ve never met?

DNA test results.
The results of my DNA test.

Without further adieu, I now have the answers to all of these questions. Behold in the screenshot taken with my phone to the right: the main bulk of my DNA test results! Imagine my surprise to find, unlike my father, that I actually do have a little more than a quarter of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh blood in my veins! The Scandinavian and Iberian roots both confirm my dad’s test, since he had a good bit of those as well. The biggest surprise for me though was that I’m over half English! I’m a pretty pasty white boy so the fact that I’m from somewhere in Europe is pretty obvious, but I had always presumed that it was mostly the Irish and perhaps German from my mother’s side of the family that could claim all of that. It turns out that instead of dreaming about European trips to Italy or Ireland, perhaps I should be thinking about one day reconnecting with my English roots. Truth be told, I do love the idea of making a lengthy trip to London one day! And on a more humorous level, it totally makes sense why all my thoughts sound British after I’ve watched a few too many episodes of Doctor Who!

The coolest part for me in this entire DNA testing experience was getting to see the site match me up with potential relatives who have also taken the test. The site very accurately lists my dad first and foremost as a 50% match with my DNA and conclusively states that he’s my father. Can you imagine if the two of us didn’t already know one another and hadn’t been a part of one another’s lives? Taking this DNA test on a whim and suddenly discovering who my father is would have been the discovery of a lifetime! I’m sure that may even have actually happened in some cases of people using this service. The site also lists a few other people I’ve never heard of as second and third cousins twice removed. I’m not sure that’s a relationship they would deem worthy of my reaching out for, so I haven’t made any attempts to contact anyone. But wouldn’t it be cool to find someone you’re actually very closely related to that you would have never known about otherwise? The possibilities still keep churning around in my mind.

Since taking the test and receiving my results, I’ve also fielded a lot of questions from friends and family members who are also interested in doing something similar. So for anyone else out there who might want to do it, here’s some of the basics that I can cover for you:

What service and/or company did you use?

MyHeritage DNA Kit!
MyHeritage DNA Kit!

There are undoubtedly other services like it out there, but we went with MyHeritage DNA! Honestly, I think we went with them after my dad (who did his test first) saw a commercial for them on TV advertising the DNA test kits. If their website is to be believed though, they use “the highest technological standards to meet the most affordable price on the market.” If you’re not convinced by MyHeritage, the widely-reputable Ancestry.com offers a similarly-priced service.

What kind of test is it?

It’s a saliva test. The kit comes with two swabs and vials, one for the inside of each cheek. Unlike other kinds of scientific testing, it’s totally painless, mostly sanitary, and mess-free.

How expensive is it to do this?

The MyHeritage DNA’s website states that the kit is normally priced at $99 but has been on sale for $79 since we ordered both of our tests earlier this year. So while it is a little bit on the pricey side, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. The kit also has everything you need, including postage and packaging to mail your kit to the lab for testing. You can also access the entirety of your results once they are available to you as well, so you shouldn’t need to spend any additional money once you get it if you don’t want to. (I say “if you don’t want to” because MyHeritage does have additional premium services you can pay for to help build your family tree and find other connections, but those services are completely optional.)

How long do results take?

The waiting period was honestly the worst part of the entire experience. MyHeritage is upfront and even specifies that it can take between 3 – 4 weeks before your kit reaches the lab and you receive your results. As someone who currently works in the drug testing industry, that waiting period seems a bit excessive, but there might be a more detailed approach to DNA testing than there is with drug testing. I’m not a scientist so I’m honestly not sure.

Needless to say, if you decide to do the DNA testing, you’re going to have to be prepared to wait a little while before you get your final results. MyHeritage will notify you via email once they are ready, though.

But is it worth the money?

Honestly, I would say yes. It’s valuable for me to know exactly which parts of the world I come from and where my ancestors may have migrated from. It’s also good to not only confirm and validate your own familial relationships, but also to assist you in finding others you may not even know about!

And I say all of this without even having taken any money or sponsorship deals from them!

Are you planning on building a family tree or doing your own DNA test?  Tell me all about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear more about your own family stories! 🙂

About Joseph

Joseph Black

Joseph Black

According to Wikipedia, I discovered magnesium and carbon dioxide, so that's something.

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