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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.
Learn the essential details of Y-chromosome testing
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.
Living DNA now offers four levels of DNA testing and all of them are sale priced in January. I recommend the DNA Ancestry Test that's marked down from $99 to $79. That one includes their great breakdown of British ancestry into sub-regions and their new DNA matching feature that should become more useful over time.
Their least expensive Starter kit doesn't offer much and the more expensive "wellbeing" options get into testing for nutrition and fitness. I have not done those tests and I remain skeptical about the value of such reports.
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.
Y-DNA testing a man can help trace his direct paternal line. And mitochondrial DNA testing (of anyone) can explore the direct maternal line. Both test types are hugely discounted through 12/26/19 at Family Tree DNA. Click here to see the prices and learn more.
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.
My recommended DNA tests are all discounted with holiday sale prices and some offer free shipping too. For a convenient way to compare the offers 24/7, see this web page. I also provide sale shopping tips and a brief summary of what makes each test worthwhile.
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.
Since I identified my birth family in 2007, thousands of adoptees have been using genetic genealogy tests to find birth parents and biological siblings. Since 2016, Blaine Bettinger has surveyed over 3,000 adoptees to measure success rates. Read all the charts in this latest summary to see how testing choices have evolved and how success rates have increased.
Starting in January 2020 adopted individuals born and adopted in New York will be able to have a copy of their original birth certificates with the names of their biological parents, if so listed. That's because Governor Cuomo has signed the bill that passed the legislature earlier.
This fight went on for decades. Here's an emotional and historical glimpse from Lorraine Dusky, an early pioneer in the New York battle.
Take advantage of these free DNA testing offers.
Over time, the leading DNA tests add more reference populations and tweak the way they compare our DNA to them. AncestryDNA just rolled out an update. For my family the changes seem to be in the right direction. You may or may not think so. Log into your Ancestry account and look. If you have other family members to test, take advantage of the current sale prices.
We read a lot about adoptees and birth mothers. But what about the men who discover an adult child they never knew? Genetic counselor Brianne Kirkpatrick shares a guest post from two such men in her Watershed DNA blog.
Learn about the best alternatives for an African DNA test. Get answers about African heritage or help with African American Genealogy.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month (#NAAM). For many, it's a time to celebrate adoption. But we need to remember that adoption is a journey that lasts a lifetime. Adoptee Laureen Pittman has written a thoughtful opinion piece that examines the big picture of adoption. Everyone should read it.
Check out the MyHeritage Education site. A large selection of articles and videos will help you understand the MyHeritage features and tools that help you make the most of your genealogy research. One of the filters lets you just see a list of DNA topics.
With the current sales (see my recent posts) many more people will be discovering genetic relatives. Each of those DNA tests will show you how much DNA you share with each match in a unit called centiMorgans. This blog post shows you where to find that number and how you can use it to see how you might be related.
That's the subject of my presentation this Saturday (11/9/19) at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society meeting in Grand Rapids. Join me at 1:30 p.m. in the Ryerson Auditorium of the Grand Rapids Public Library. See this link for details.
Reviewing Current DNA Test Sales with Recommendations
I just discovered something cool. You can use the results of your DNA ethnicity test to create personalized shirts, hats, mugs, posters, etc. Designs include colored maps, trees, and helixes. Order a unique gift for yourself or a family member. Part of your purchase goes to Youth Celebrate Diversity. Just browsing the catalog is fun. Check it out now.
The DNA testing companies are adding features that make it easier to work with our genetic matches. And third-party developers are creating additional innovative tools. In this blog post my friend Dana Leeds describes a clever way of using some of these tools together.
Here's a detailed example of how DNA tests can supplement conventional genealogical research to identify ancestors. This search even employed some third-party DNA tools.
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