Discover Family Secrets Through Your DNA
It may be hard to believe that the cutting-edge DNA science that changed the justice and healthcare systems is now a popular birthday gift for your genealogy-minded friends and family, but it’s true.
Searching your family tree with the help of DNA results is as easy as spitting into a tube. Today, a simple free ancestry search can unlock all kinds of family secrets.
At-home DNA testing kits still provide important medical information, but learning more about the family tree has become a popular draw. DNA testing can connect you with long-lost relatives, confirm which part of the world your ancestors came from, and more.
How Do Family Tree DNA Tests Work?
Half of your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) comes from your mother, and half comes from your father. You share 99.5% of all genetic material with every other human on earth. It’s the remaining .05% that makes you unique.
That tiny percentage is responsible for your hair and eye color, the shape of your nose, the size of your foot, and your risk of developing certain diseases. When your genetic information is analyzed and entered into a database, it can also tell you a story about your family history that you never knew.
Companies like 23andMe, Ancestry.com, and a handful of others offer testing kits that make it easy to learn about your family history. You purchase the kit, follow the directions closely, and send your DNA sample to a lab for analysis.
At the lab, your saliva sample is digitized and transformed into a long string of letters that are incomprehensible to most people. The biologists at the lab use an algorithm to translate what seems like a jumble of letters into something with meaning.
Exactly what kind of information is available depends on the type of test you take. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from a mother to her children. Mitochondrial DNA tests provide information about maternal ancestry.
Fathers pass a Y chromosome to their sons (with some exceptions), and Y DNA tests provide information about the father’s ancestral line. Autosomal DNA provides information to people you are related to on both sides of your family.
While waiting for your results, you can create a free ancestry search account with the company (some of the services require a subscription) and use their extensive genealogy database to start building your family tree.
If you’re new to ancestry research, it’s recommended that you begin with the information you already know, even if it’s only a little. Depending on the company you use, you’ll have access to a variety of research tools and tips.
Once your DNA test results have been analyzed, you can use genealogical evidence and historical records to identify ancestors from many generations ago. For additional information, you can upload the raw DNA data received from the analysis with an independent company and learn even more.
Contact Genomelink for more information about raw data analysis and how you can use it to benefit your life today.
Why Do People Do Family Tree Research?
Some people are interested in learning about their family’s history, and some are more interested in information about living family members. Both of these topics fall under the general topic of ancestry.
Some of the reasons people are interested in studying their family tree include:
- Fun and entertainment
- Education about a family event or relative
- Location of a missing family member
- Identification of biological relatives
- Understanding family members better
- Religious reasons
- Confirmation of a family narrative
Whether you’re interested in uncovering family secrets or simply enjoy knowing more about your family’s journey, family tree DNA can fill in missing information, and in some cases, build the branches of your family tree far back into history.
What Can You Learn from Family Tree DNA?
Exactly what you can learn from ancestry DNA test results depends on what type of test you’re taking and the services offered by the company interpreting your raw DNA data. But you could potentially learn a wealth of information — including family secrets.
Your Ancient Ancestry
DNA confirms that all humans migrated out of Africa around 170,000 years ago. Over time, they spread around the world, constantly adapting to their new environments. With each move, DNA diversified, and groups of people began to develop genetic distinctions from other groups.
Family tree DNA provides insight into the migration pattern of your ancestors and where they diversified into smaller populations. A DNA search shows you where on the globe your ancestors lived and what path they took to get to your current location.
Your Genetic Cousins
Comparing your DNA test results with others in a genealogy database uncovers relatives you may not have known about before. The more closely the results match, the smaller the range of generations between your common ancestors.
Finding genetic cousins not only widens the branches of your family tree, but it can also help you dive deeper into your genealogy research and possibly discover living family members you were unaware of.
Finding out you are actually Portuguese and not Italian wouldn’t change who you are as a person, but it might change your family story. DNA testing has helped people discover and research their genealogy in surprising new directions.
Handling Sensitive Information
The thought of uncovering a family secret is both tantalizing and frightening. What would you do if you found out something scandalous or hurtful? To start, let the key people in your life know you’re doing DNA family tree research. Ask if they would like you to share whatever information you find.
Even a “secret” that’s generations old can have an emotional impact on living descendants. Be prepared for the possibility that others don’t want to know what you found or may be upset with you for uncovering long-forgotten family scandals.
If you suspect your search will uncover something sensitive, give the people involved an opportunity to share what they know ahead of time, and remember that not everyone may be as interested in family history as you are.