Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Piece of My DNA Puzzle

DNA testing has been front and center for me over the past 48 hours.

First, the good news: I finally have a close connection on 23andMe! I tested almost a year ago. I explore the site every month or so, and haven't had much luck in pursuing any particular ancestral line. Last week, a connection considered by 23andMe to be a 2nd-to-3rd cousin appeared. We agreed to connect, and lo and behold, we are indeed second cousins! I didn't know her specifically, but I am familiar with her family line. Welcome to my branch of the family, Linda!

Our fathers are first cousins. Mine was the first grandchild in this line and her father was the second. After speaking with my dad, I enjoyed sharing with Linda that as children, our fathers used to be called "Jackie Joe" and "Jimmy Joe" by the family. They are also happy to have long outgrown those nicknames!

As I wrote in my prior DNA post, I was admittedly uncertain how the whole genetic DNA connections worked. I knew that I only received a way-back-in-time haplogroup assignment for my maternal side.

I am U5a2b - wanna connect?!

I erroneously thought that I only received maternal results. My connection this weekend with Linda disproved all that - to my great relief! Linda and I are paternal cousins. We were both thrilled to learn this was not strictly a maternal-side match. After that realization sunk in, I went to all my potential connections in the list that were expected to be 3rd-to-6th cousins and wrote them all back. Hopefully, I can find more cousins. Sometimes it just takes that one breakthrough to produce a bigger "aha" moment.

But the less-good-news for 23andMe was that it was called on the FDA carpet for not answering inquiries into its marketing of health claims [Wall Street Journal article]. Hopefully, this will be a non-event shortly. I can understand the need for some standards, especially in an infant industry ready to break out into the mainstream. I also could not imagine an internet spit test being the only tool someone would rely on for genetic testing.

The only way I will get any leads on my difficult Irish ancestors will be through my brother and father taking DNA tests. The only (read: financially reasonable) way I can test them is through a 23andMe test - whose sale is now tentatively halted.

Hurry up and resolve this because I have family to find!

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© 2013 Sally Knudsen