Genealogy is more than just a hobby for me, it’s something I tend to get a bit obsessive about. I’ve been curating my family’s tree for over ten years, building upon my maternal grandmother and uncle’s research before me. The latest tool in my arsenal will hopefully be the AncestryDNA test, which I recently completed and sent in for evaluation.
According to the AncestryDNA FAQ:
AncestryDNA is a new DNA testing service that utilizes some of the latest autosomal testing technology to revolutionize the way you discover your family history. This service combines advanced DNA science with the world’s largest online family history resource to predict your genetic ethnicity and help you find new family connections. It maps ethnicity going back multiple generations and provides insight into such possibilities as: what region of Europe are my ancestors from, or am I likely to have East Asian heritage? AncestryDNA can also help identify relationships with unknown relatives through a dynamic list of possible DNA member matches.
The test costs $99. I’ve been putting off doing it for a while — mainly because I felt a bit apprehensive about sharing my private DNA information. But curiosity has won out, and I finally purchased the test.
Unlike the tissue collection process I went through for Be The Match, which involved a simple cheek swab, the AncestryDNA kit includes a clear plastic test tube which is used to collect approximately 1/4 teaspoon of spittle. You are supposed to do this at least 30 minutes after you’ve had anything to eat or drink; I did it first thing in the morning before I’d brushed my teeth or had any water. I must have been slightly dehydrated because it took me a little while to come up with my sample.
You’ll notice that the activation code is on everything!
After you have enough saliva to hit the “spit to here” line (with actual spittle, not bubbles), you remove the funnel and screw on the cap; this releases a blue stabilizing liquid.
The kit gets put in the included Bio bag, sealed, then put inside the pre-paid mailer box. I had to use extra tape because my box fell apart. =P
One of the most important steps before sending in the kit in is activating it online; to do this, you go to AncestryDNA.com/activate and follow the steps. If you already have an Ancestry account, you can connect your test to your profile on your family tree.
I’m not exactly sure what I’ll learn by doing the AncestryDNA test; I’m trying to have realistic expectations. Yes, it would be great to find that all of my research done thus far is correct, but I don’t want to get my hopes up that any returned answers will be quite so cut and dried as to say that I am definitely related to X, Y, or Z (assuming their DNA is in the registry) — although that would be fantastic.
Ancestry says the results will include information about my “genetic ethnicity predictions and provide [me] with DNA matches, linking [me] to others who have taken the AncestryDNA test.” Hopefully, this test will do more than confirm that I am 1/4 Irish, 1/4 Pennsylvania Dutch (Swiss/German), and 1/2 UK/European mongrel — things I already know.
Perhaps the test will be able to tell me if one of my great-great-great-grandmothers on my mother’s was at least half-Native American, as family lore states; or perhaps it will settle a question I’ve had since 1997 about whether or not there is a Jewish contingent to the Irish Lipsett family, as my paternal grandfather had told me. There are so many family connections and stories that I’ve unearthed over the years, if this can confirm or negate any of them, then my familial research will only be that much better.
If this test can give me any answers, then it will be the best $99 I’ve ever spent.
Ancestry says that I can expect to wait 6 – 8 weeks for my results; I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: You can read my results here.
The cost to buy the AncestryDNA Test kit is $99; use the code FREESHIPDNA for free shipping.