I grew up in a house with a mother who was a genealogist. She had books, charts, papers, stories, life histories, memoirs, you-name-it-she-had-it to aid her search for dead relatives. So, I grew up knowing my heritage and background.
The only problem with heritage, as any genealogist knows, the farther back you go the harder it is to find credible sources and information about your family line. For this reason, I became extremely interested in having my DNA tested, you know, just to see if there were different countries and areas I and my family should be investigating for genealogical information.
I asked for an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas 2016 and Santa delivered. I on the other hand, instead of rushing out and sharing my spit, became a little distracted by life and didn’t get around to slapping my saliva into their provided receptacle until around June.
But hey, I finally did it.
I popped it in the mail and waited….and waited….and waited. Unlike the instant gratification world we live in, getting DNA analyzed takes a bit of time; up to six weeks in some cases. Mine took about 3-4 weeks.
So, what did I find? Was I actually adopted like my siblings kept telling me? Was my Mom totally off by which countries we claimed as our heritage? The results were expected, and well, surprising at the same time.
For starters, my DNA make-up said I was 81% British. This wasn’t a surprise since my mom had tons of documented sources showing that the bulk of my known ancestors came from the British Aisles. I was also linked to two genetic groups in the United States as well: early settlers of Central Appalachia and early settlers of Kentucky and Virginia. This was also a well-known fact since my Dad’s ancestors settled quite a bit of the area and even had a county named after their families. Still pretty cool, though.
The next DNA markers came from Eastern Europe at about 6% and 3% from Ireland and Northern Europe. Also, not too much of a shocker, though I thought the number would be bigger based on the genealogy.
Next came the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) at 4%. This is where I started to get surprised. I didn’t realize my ancestry traveled into Southern Europe, but the farther back you go, the more mixed up the ancestry gets.
The biggest DNA shocker: < 1% of my DNA was traced back to Central Asia (i.e.: Afghanistan, kazakhstan, Iran, etc.). Though the amount is small, this still completely surprised me. So, it turns out, waaaaayyyy back in my genetic history, my ancestors came from an area that I never would have suspected.
But wait, there’s more to this connection…
One thing that did bother me though, was the fact that my Mom had said on multiple occasions that we as a family had mixed Native American ancestors due to intermarriage. There were scattered sources, but no real credible support. However, no DNA showed up to support that.
Not being one to let things just lie, I decided to do some digging to find out if we missed something or the DNA test did.
I found several sources that gave me a better picture of this aspect of my DNA make-up. One blog pointed out that if the Native American ancestor was too far back, the DNA would be inconclusive or not show any connection. A wonderful National Geographic article reported on findings that showed a link between Eurasia and Native American DNA, with up to a third of Native American DNA having commonalities with Eurasian and Middle East DNA. Cue my Central Asian DNA that seemed to come out of nowhere. While this might be a stretch on my end, it could also be an answer. It definitely gives me more of an area to consider.
While I would have loved for my DNA makeup to show that I was related to a wilting, heir-less millionaire who would love to leave me her fortune, I think I found a much more interesting story beginning that’s waiting to be more fully uncovered.
So, if you are doing, or thinking about doing, your DNA be prepared for the mundane and the surprise.