Minimalist Christmas gift idea – genealogy DNA testing

by Bella

Some people are so hard to shop for! I used to dread shopping for “picky” people or people who already have everything.  Now we avoid shopping as much as possible. Instead we give the gift of experience like we did for our daughter’s birthday (read about it here). We took her out to try something new rather than buying something that she didn’t need, might not have liked and would have probably ended up in a garage sale.

We’ve decided to have genealogy DNA testing done for our Christmas gifts this year. Like so many people, we have some family mysteries. Jack’s father never knew his dad and my father comes from a family that must have had something to hide, because there’s virtually no records on them.

Ooh this is going to be exciting. I have my suspicions about our fathers’ ancestries, but I could be totally surprised at what we find.I suspect they may have been French. Wouldn’t it me interesting if they turned out to be Russian or Greek, or Middle Eastern?

I’m currently researching the best companies to use. We want to get as much detail as possible for our money. It’s looking like 23 and me or Family Finder are the best options to get the info we’re looking for.

They both do autosomal DNA testing and give a more detailed breakdown of family origins that ancestry.com or National Geographic. To learn about the different types of DNA tests, autosomal, mitochondrial and Y-chromosome visit this Wikipedia page.

There are some important things to consider before we make our final decision on which company to use and who should get tested. At first we thought that testing Jack and I would tell our family what we wanted to know about our paternal lineages. That’s true for Jack, but not for me.

In high school biology class most of us learned that women have 2 X chromosomes and that men have an X and a Y. The father contributes the Y and it turns out that that Y is what contains the information about his paternal lineage. When he contributes an X, DNA testing can’t access that information. What that means is that doing a DNA test on me won’t unveil much at all about my father’s ancestral secrets.

I’m glad that I’ve been doing my homework before jumping in and ordering the test kits. I’ve found this comparison chart and the links it provides from the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) to be the most helpful. It looks like I’ll have to get my father to take the test on my behalf. It’s possible to have a brother take the test too. Because I only have half-brother’s (they have a different mother); that might just confuse things; so I think I’ll ask my dad. He’s really interested in this too, so it doubles as his Christmas gift.

Another great thing about these tests is that you’re given a way to contact family through the testing company. They give you a list of everyone who has been tested by the same company and shares a genetic match with you. There’s a way to contact them through the company that provides confidentiality so that long lost relatives aren’t just showing up on your doorstep.

It all sounds pretty simple and best of all, from the perspective of a minimalist, the results are sent via the web; so there are no papers to have to file or scan and shred. AWESOME!

The results you get from 23 and me look something like this

Sample of 23 and me DNA test results

I love the world map that they provide showing where your ancestors are from. Family Finder does this too.

Sample of Family Finder DNA test results

Before we make our final decision. I’d love input from anyone who has had Genealogical DNA testing done. What company did you use and what was your experience?  Let me know if you have any advice or better yet if it revealed any surprises.

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3 thoughts on “Minimalist Christmas gift idea – genealogy DNA testing

  1. I, too, have seriously considered DNA testing for myself and family members. Unfortunately, I have had some push-back from older family members, many whom want to leave well enough alone. I would be interested in what company you ultimately choose and why, and if the tests help fill any genealogical gaps for you. Good luck.

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  2. Pingback: Surprising 23andMe test results | Box Free Family

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