Ancestry & the Secrets of My DNA
I was never a person who was particularly engaged in life science class or biology. I much preferred studying larger subjects - volcanoes, thunderclouds, and hurricanes. The science behind them fascinated me, although the havoc that they wreak certainly dulls my enthusiasm for their occurrence.
Similarly, I have always intrigued by my ancestry and genealogy, but not necessarily the aspects of my DNA that dictated it. This fascination likely has more to do with history than science, after all. As part of our family Christmas this year, we all gathered around, collected DNA samples, and shipped them off to Ancestry headquarters to await our individual genealogical results. Rather than the 6-8 weeks it was predicted that we would likely have to wait - everyone in my family received their results in less than a mont. My results were the last to arrive (which I was casually indignant about since I finished collecting my DNA first!).
We were all excited to find out about our heritage, particularly my younger siblings, who are all adopted. They are all fully a part of my family, but they were eager to find out what their DNA had to say.
Since I had to wait the longest to get my results, it was interesting to watch as the illusions my family members held about their heritage were shattered into unexpected percentages. My father, whose grandparents were Italian immigrants, always believed himself to be fully Italian. He was quite surprised to find that he was actually only about 70-75% Italian. Likewise, two of my brothers thought that their heritage would be predominantly Japanese. However, for them, the disparity was even more shocking - they were only 10-20% Japanese. Their heritage from various European ancestors was just as strong!
So, with increasing anticipation, I awaited my results. Finally, one morning last week, they arrived. Thanks to the fact that I don’t have a morning routine (click here to read the blog post about why that is), I was able to dedicate some time to investigation and contemplation. My results are as follows:
I was more than a little surprised to discover that my heritage is predominately French and Germanic - especially because my parent's results had neither country listed in their results. The percentage of my DNA that denotes Italian ancestry also makes me sad. I strongly identify as an Italian with my love of meatballs and (gluten-free) lasagna. On the other hand, I grew up doing Leikarringen dancing, however, so I love that so much of my purported heritage is Norwegian.
I know that there are many people who seriously doubt the accuracy of Ancestry and other companies that do DNA analysis. I can’t definitively say that I am not one of them. And while learning about my DNA contained some surprises and sadness, it has also inspired me to do more research into the places my ancestors (may or may not have) come from, and hopefully to plan a visit to them at some point in the future.
Finally, I’m curious to see how DNA research continues to evolve and develop over the years. As with all good science, I'm sure methods and analysis will continue to improve as the amount information continues to grow. I won't worry if my percentages shift over time because ultimately, this DNA analysis and genealogy research has just been a learning tool. And developments in this realm of science will only encourage me to learn more - so, from that perspective, it will have been a success.
Until next time,