Welcome to DNA Testing Update, my blog that keeps you up-to-date with what's new at DNA Testing Adviser. I’ll tell you about…
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MyHeritage has the most European users and the fastest-growing DNA database. If you're a genealogist or anyone trying to reconnect with biological relatives, you need to do this test. Your test includes on-site tools like AutoClusters and Theory of Family Relativity, which can help you discover which ancestors you share with your matches.
This adoptee did a DNA test to learn about her heritage. Then she began to hear from many biological relatives. “I didn’t know you could find people,” she said. Her journey to meet relatives in person took her all the way to the Caribbean. The article includes some advice on establishing contact.
A recent reviewer of my Finding Family book wrote this review on Amazon: "I am always intrigued to hear other adoptees stories. My favorite part was when Mr. Hill stated about his fantasy of Clark Gable being his father. My fantasy parents were Lynda Carter and Elvis Presley. And here I was thinking that I was the only person to have such a thought! I really couldn’t stop reading, so many similarities in both his search and mine. Of course many differences also but I absolutely loved reading this book!"
Whether you were adopted or not, did you ever fantasize about a famous person being your parent?
It was big news 80 years ago when a baby was found abandoned at the Woolworth's store in Edinburgh, Scotland. Now the man has finally started to search for his lost family through DNA testing. His attitude is remarkable.
This story is a good reminder that secrets about a person's biological paternity are no longer safe. If your adult child is adopted or donor-conceived, he or she deserves to know that. Better you should tell them now than have the secret revealed through a DNA test.
Many people who are not genealogists get into DNA testing because they want to see a percentage breakdown of their ethnic ancestry. All the major autosomal DNA tests include such a report. For a brief overview of that subject, see this new page on my website.
MyHeritage In Color™ is a new feature that lets you colorize your black and white photos automatically. I tried it and was impressed with the quality. The original photo is not changed and the colorized photo is a separate file in the same resolution as the original. Several photos may be colorized for free, after which continued use of this feature requires a MyHeritage subscription, which is already a great service for genealogists.
Sometimes a DNA test will find surprises in your family tree. Judit in Hungary found a major surprise in her DNA and is now excited to solve the mystery behind it.
“It is always nice to know the truth, your real origins,” says Judit. “That can be the greatest thing. Maybe it’s something you already knew about, so confirming it could be cool, give you a sense of your place in the world. But if you find out something else — well, you get a chance to experience the truth.”
Blogger Kitty Cooper shares a brief summary of the recent conference of the Institute for Genetic Genealogy. One of the speakers was Paul Fronzcak, the child returned to his parents after the famous Chicago baby-napping case in 1964 and author of The Foundling.
This adopted woman was raised as an only child and always wanted siblings. Her birth mother married and had eight children and the only girl always wanted a sister. Thanks to DNA testing they found each other and everyone got their wish.
Living DNA is known best for reporting British ancestry in 21 sub-regions. They continue to add new regions and break down European ancestry into finer detail. For example, this new update breaks Germanic ancestry into three sub-regions. The free updates are rolling out now. First, they email you that your update is ready for processing. Then you log in and request it. They re-run your data and email you again when the new report is ready. Plus, you can still view your old results and even download a PDF file. My wife and I have both been updated and I like the way they are handling this.
What DNA ethnicity testing can tell you about your ancestry
If you take an autosomal DNA test like AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, or Family Finder, some of your matches will only share small segments of DNA with you, i.e. in the 6 to 15 centiMorgan range. Many people will tell you to ignore these matches. But Jim Bartlett teaches us that such segments can be valuable.
Here's another case of a DNA test uncovering unknown ancestry. In this one there was an informal adoption so there was no paper trail of any kind.
How\ the amount of DNA two people share predicts DNA relationships
Learn what the autosomal DNA test can do for genealogists and adoptees
Only a tiny percentage of people who take a DNA test will unintentionally discover a family secret. So it's quite remarkable that two close friends both identified their biological fathers after doing the AncestryDNA test.
Right now you can order DNA tests at MyHeritage for just $49 each instead of the regular price of $79. This provides you with all the DNA features including genetic matches, an ethnicity breakdown, AutoCluster, and a chromosome browser. Order two or more kits and get free shipping. This sale ends 2/3/20.
Since DNA testing can uncover all kinds of biological relationships, it raises many ethical questions. As an adoptee, I understand the need to know one's biological roots and I am forever thankful for the people who helped me find my first families. This post by Brianne Kirkpatrick explores a more controversial search--that of donor-conceived people searching for their egg or sperm donors. Read her post, give the subject some thought, and share your opinion.
Not all family discoveries result from DNA testing. Sometimes it's something else, like Facebook in this particular case in the U.K.
Attending RootsTech is a great experience. I went last year. But the total cost of getting to Salt Lake City and staying in hotels is high. Thankfully, several of the presentations will be streamed live over the Internet for free. That schedule has been announced.
Thanks to a change in state law, adoptees born in New York can now access their original birth certificate. This official webpage explains how to do that.
If you or a family member has tested your DNA on AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or Family Finder, you can easily upload the raw data file to MyHeritage to get free DNA Matches. Receiving DNA Matches and contacting them is free and unlimited. Unlocking additional DNA features (Chromosome Browser, Ethnicity Estimate, Shared ancestral places, and more) requires an optional one-time unlock fee of $29.
MyHeritage is the most popular DNA test in Europe and is growing rapidly in the U.S. and elsewhere. Any genealogist or adoptee should definitely get into this database. DNA data uploaded to MyHeritage is completely private and secure. Only you can see the DNA data you upload.
Two women, living in different states, take the same DNA test for different reasons. They discover each other, learn more about their families, and become fast friends.
Good news for genealogists! Due to systemic improvements in their processes, Family Tree DNA has cut the prices of Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests. Since this makes their best options more attractive, they have also simplified the product lines, dropping the 67-marker Y-DNA test and the base mtDNA test. Upgrade prices have also been cut. So if you tested earlier, log into your account to see your upgrade options.
I read some comments in an online survey about DNA testing and was disappointed to see this reply: "After receiving the result that identified my nephew as my grandson, I lost confidence in the accuracy of all the results." This man rejected a great tool because of his own ignorance. Nephews, grandchildren, and half-siblings all share about 25% of your DNA. When less DNA is shared, there are even more possible explanations. Whenever you get the results of an autosomal DNA test, note the shared centiMorgans and enter that number in the following tool. It will show you the possible relationships.
When using an automated clustering tool such as Genetic Affairs’ AutoCluster or DNAGedcom’s Collins Leeds Method, the output is in the form of a matrix. Dana Leeds clearly explains what these mean using several screenshots. This is brief and right to the point. Good job!
Raised by white parents, Christine grew up thinking of herself as white. Now in her 60s, she took home a DNA test and learned she has a lot of West African ancestry. This led her to discover that her biological father, a man she never knew, was black. Her quest to learn about him leads her on quite an adventure.
That's what the latest reviewer of my "Finding Family" book wrote on Amazon. Here's the rest of her review: "This book is founded on the author's intelligence, scholarship, and skills as an investigator. He has done the very hard work of finding his family of origin, and in this book he tells the story of how he succeeded, clearly and in detail. This book is a source of encouragement and inspiration for anyone looking for their own biological relatives. Hill has uncovered significant information about his long-gone biological parents and extended family, and presents them to the reader in a way that feels like a marvelous old home movie, a window into an otherwise forgotten past."
I appreciate it very much when any reader takes the time to write a review. Thank you all.
Recently 23andMe announced a licensing deal resulting from their medical research. Genealogists upset about this fail to understand the big picture. The following opinion piece from genetic genealogy guru Blaine is so important that I am quoting it here:
"I'm seeing a lot of misinformation on Facebook about this licensing deal between 23andMe and Almirall, so I want to share some of my thoughts. It's the most disheartening to see this from genealogists who are supposed to be better at researching and finding the facts.
- Only people that specifically and actively opted-in to participate in research are used for research. EVERY test is automatically opted OUT of research, and must take an affirmative action to opt in. That's the only type of true informed consent, automatic opt-out requiring an informed opt in. 80% of the 10 million at 23andMe have opted in, so there are many people that have opted out; their DNA won't be used for research.
- NO COMPANY makes enough money on autosomal DNA testing alone to survive. No one. They don't, atDNA is a loss leader. If we want companies to survive, they must find a way to turn the autosomal DNA testing into something, such as other types of testing at FTDNA, subscriptions at Ancestry, and research at 23andMe. If they don't, the company goes away and our results disappear. No one has to opt-in to research, purchase another test, or purchase a subscription. But if we don't support the fact that the companies need to make a profit (they aren't here to give us stuff for free, they are companies with employees and property and equipment that costs money), we are the ones responsible for their disappearance. People that accuse 23andMe of "selling our data" without talking about the fact that it is the only way they'll survive, are hurting genealogy (not to mention that the phrase "selling our data" is misleading).
- I don't know all the facts behind the scene, but this new antibody was developed by 23andMe via their internal research department using genetic information from opt-in DNA tests. It is the compound, not genetic information, that is being licensed to Almirall. Personally, I think that's the perfect scenario; genetic information is used by the testing company to develop something that benefits humanity, 23andMe licenses it and makes money, and can afford to stay alive and process more tests! But if you don't like this, don't opt-in."
NPE stands for "Not the Parent Expected." This includes adoptees, donor-conceived people, and others directly affected by misattributed parentage. A new organization is advocating for the rights of NPEs.
You can read this summary in Severance Magazine, a magazine/community for people who've been separated from biological family or have had surprising DNA test results.
In this case it was not the adoptee that was searching for birth family. It was the birth family searching for the lost child. Now the two younger sisters have reunited with the secret child of their deceased mother.
It took 52 years, a DNA test and the unearthing of a family secret — but this adopted woman's search for her biological family finally came to a close just in time for Christmas.
Powerful tools for working with your DNA results can be found at Genetic Affairs. Here's a summary from their website: "AutoCluster groups together your DNA matches into clusters of matches that most likely descend from common ancestors. AutoScan performs regular updates for different DNA companies and AutoTree identifies common ancestors and reconstructs trees for Ancestry DNA matches." You can try it out for free. After that, there is a small ongoing cost that varies with how you use the site.
When Liz Smith ordered a 23andMe DNA test, she was looking for medical information from her adopted mother''s side. She did not even know that the test could uncover biological relatives. Now, she and her mother have connected with her mother's siblings.
Speakers and topics for GGI2020 in Belfast have been announced. This is a great opportunity to learn more about DNA testing and vacation in Ireland at the same time.
Family Tree DNA has posted a nice summary of Big Y highlights for 2019. This advanced testing has uncovered both new ancient lineages and thousands of branch points within genealogical timeframes. Plans for 2020 are also noted.
Researchers at 23andMe used genetic connections to Africans found in people living today in the Americas to help bridge the gap in the historical record of the enslavement of Africans. The map in this summary is fascinating. I was surprised to learn that only 3-to-5 percent of the Africans ended up in North America. The remainder were taken to ports primarily in Central America, the Caribbean or South America.
If you read "The Foundling" by Paul Joseph Fronczak, you learned that the author was not the baby stolen from the hospital. According to news reports, that stolen baby has now been found.
Blogger Kitty Cooper is a GEDmatch expert and has carefully reviewed the sale of the company to its new owner. She reminds us of the great tools that are only available there and shares her optimistic outlook going forward. For additional perspectives, she includes links to other blog posts from all sides.
The National Genealogical Society has announced a new online course called "Understanding and Using DNA Test Results." The course has 14 modules and you have access to the course for six months from the date of registration. Angie Bush is the instructor and she is a good one. NGS members get a discount on the course fee.
Many of us learned about Georgia Tann and the infamous Tennessee Children's Home Society through the book "Before We Were Yours." This article reveals the historical facts upon which the book was based. Many of the children who survived still do not know their biological origins.
The Adoptee Reading site has published a detailed listing of 100 adoptee-authored books from the decade 2010 thru 2019. This includes both fiction and non-fiction titles with cover images, summaries, reviews, and links to find the books on Amazon. If you have any interest in the adoption experience, you will find this to be a wonderful resource. My book, "Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA," is included for 2017, the year of the new publisher edition.
Many of us genetic genealogists have uploaded our raw DNA data to a third-party site called GEDmatch. It is incredibly useful. GEDmatch has now been acquired by a company called Verogen that promises many improvements.
Blogger Roberta Estes does a nice job explaining the situation. She and I have both accepted the updated Terms of Service. All users need to make a choice when they log in next time.
A 64-year old man in Montana got to spend Thanksgiving with his birth mother and four siblings in Oklahoma. It all started with a first cousin match on AncestryDNA.
The Leeds Method is a way of clustering your DNA matches by color. Dana Leeds came up with the idea and others have found ways to make it easier or more powerful. Dana has created a web page with links to her posts about the method and the automated tools based on the method.
If you're into genetic genealogy, you need to learn about a website called GEDmatch. You can upload your raw data from any of the most popular autosomal DNA tests and enjoy many useful tools. This blog post provides a nice summary.
If you did a Geno DNA test through the Genographic Project, you must act to save your results. The public participation phase will end on June 30, 2020. After that, your results will no longer be available on the website. Fortunately, they make it easy to print your results once you log into your account. Do it now before you forget. If you have purchased a kit but not yet submitted it, see this link to the FAQ page.
If you have not yet watched this excellent documentary, it is available now on YouTube. It follows two women, adopted separately from Korea, who find each other through MyHeritage DNA tests.
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