Finding DNA Connections

I’m trying to do more than just make sure my mom’s research doesn’t go to waste. I’m also trying to take that to the next level. And these days, that means DNA matching.

My first test was a medical one. My mom had cancer, and she had some kind of “cancer gene”. So when I started having symptoms they set me up with my first DNA test – just checking for that one mutation my mom had.

Spitting in the tube and dropping it in the mail was super easy. Which got me looking at the variety of DNA tests on the market that tell you all kinds of things… from your heritage to what time your genes are programmed to wake you up in the morning.

I picked 23&Me and gave it a try.

Turns out I’m a morning person. (Yeah, we kinda knew that already… but not I can tell my partner to quit trying to change me into a night owl.)

I also discovered that some of my first cousins had taken the same test and that disproved all my fantasies about nurses switching babies in the hospital (not to mention being an alien changeling… did I mention I have a good imagination?)

I was also a little disappointed that I didn’t have much diversity in my gene pool. Seems all my ancestors came from the UK in spite of family whispers about this or that mysterious “other” relative. If they existed, I didn’t get any of their genes.

The one thing that was really cool though was that if you can find a 2nd or 3rd cousin with a family tree, then you can verify your “most recent common ancestor” and everyone in between you and them and them and your cousin. And I get a big kick out of every new match I can make that proves my family tree is what it says.

I was so exited to make these matches that I got another test kit, this one from Ancestry, hoping that more of my matches would have family trees attached to their results. They did…but…

It turns out if you want to go further back you have to do this “triangulation” thing. Basically, you match 3 or more distant cousins, all with the same most recent common ancestor – AND – you have a specific segment of dna that matches.

Oh, darn, 23&Me has the segments – Ancestry has the trees. The only way you can get all the pieces in the right place is to use a 3rd party tool like DNApainter or GEDMatch. Which is fine… except how many of those matches ALSO downloaded their results and uploaded them to the other service?

There is no perfect solution – yet. But I’m hoping that someday I can prove that Mayflower ancestor with a DNA match.

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