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Family tree DNA map

A few months ago, I discovered that nowadays it is getting easier and cheaper to know where you come from… with the power of DNA.
Our past, our heritage, is at the tips of our fingers, or I should say, our tongue.
There are several companies that analyze your genetic information contained in a sample of your saliva that you can send by mail. The two most popular are 23andme and Family Tree DNA. The more people provide samples, the bigger their DNA database gets, and the higher the chances you can find a close or distant relative anywhere in the world.
For people with a mixed background like me, it gets quite interesting to discover where your ancestors come from, that means, where you come from.
Of course, we all have a common past, Africa, but when the first human beings started to migrate to other regions of the globe, they developed different genetic traits and now it is possible to determine to which of the genetic branches you belong to.
If you are male, is easier to track you maternal and paternal lines, since you carry both groups in your genes. If you are a woman, you only track your maternal line, you need to provide the sample of a close male relative (father, brother) to track the paternal line.
My maternal line details provided me with a few surprises. For example, although I have a majority of European heritage, I also have a fair amount of Native American genes, more precisely from people who settled in the Pacific NW (West Coast of Canada and the Northern USA).
Amazingly, I was born in Argentina from an European father but my mother’s ancestors used to live in the same place I ended up living thousands of years later!
Like going back to the origins…
If you send your sample to one of the companies, you can then upload your genetic results to the other one for a smaller fee, or better yet, share your results at GED Match which gathers all the data from all the companies for free and shows your closest relative matches, increasing the chances of finding some.
But what does this mean for an adopted person? Well, simply the chance to find your biological family!
People sending DNA samples for testing is still limited, but over time it’ll become more and more common and affordable. For different reasons, Ethiopia is a country where sending a sample of your saliva is not possible yet, but I think this will change in the future. We also have to think that many Ethiopians live abroad in countries where this is available and most importantly, many Ethiopian children have been adopted in the US and Europe. Although these companies still can’t offer the service to small children, when they become adults they can voluntarily offer a sample and maybe find some lost relative; an uncle, a cousin, or even a sibling.
The time of digging for lost records is being replaced by a modern way to find your family.
I know for a fact that I have family somewhere, uncles and cousins I don’t know and would love to meet, so I can imagine that my children will be thrilled to find their biological family sometime in the future.
The results that you get from this test are not limited to finding relatives, you can also learn about sensitivity to drugs or tendency to develop certain illnesses, like Alzheimer or Parkinson’s disease which is extremely important for people who has no knowledge of their family history, like adopted children. This is part of the standard results that you obtain from 23andme.
Also, you need to consider that the genetic testing will get better and that you’ll be able to know more about you, your past and future in the coming years. The data provides also a faster and cheaper way to search for the cure of many diseases.
I see 23andme, FTDNA and the others as some sort of “genetics Facebook” where you socialize and meet people that are connected to you… by family lineage!

Links:
23andme
Family Tree DNA
GED Match

Search For Parkinson’s Genes Turns To Online Social Networking
Tracing family trees using DNA
With DNA Testing, Suddenly They Are Family
Charles Kerchner’s YDNA Haplogroup Descriptions & Information Links
Roots Web
Ancestry.com

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