Have you ever wondered about your family tree? Where exactly your ancestors started out or the origin of your family name? DNA mapping has become a popular business and there are several companies offering to decode your genetics and DNA to give you insight to your genetic heritage.
A family member bought Ari and I both Ancestry kits. I had seen the commercials for these DNA kits floating around on the internet. The ads and commercials are especially prevalent during the holidays, but I had never considered getting one for myself until Ari and I were each gifted DNA testing kits from a family member.
We held onto them for a bit, and finally decided to open them on a rainy weekend when we were cleaning out the office and discovered where we stashed them.
If you are curious about using a DNA analysis service, here are the basic steps!
Our kits were from ancestry.com , but 23 + me also offers a similar service, as well as a few others. They even have DNA testing kits for dogs and cats if you are curious about your pet’s breed or lineage.
The box contains everything you need to sample and send your DNA. Thankfully everything is clearly labelled and t’s pretty straightforward.
As you open the box, the first thing you see is an activation code. So step one is to go online to the Ancestry website and add your registration details. They initially want basic information about you such as your name, address, age, email etc.
On the next set of registration questions, you will find an option to provide consent to allow your health information to be stored and used in a larger database. There is also an option if you wish to be contacted by any relatives if your DNA sample shows that you may be genetically linked and related to someone else registered on the platform. You can choose to give consent or not for either of those things.
If you aren’t sure you want to say yes, they also offer you this same option when you log on to see your results, and you can change your mind about your settings at any time, so that may make your decision easier.
Once you’re all set up online and your email is officially registered, it’s time to collect the sample! There are a few guidelines to adhere to, before you can collect your sample.
Most importantly you are not supposed to eat or drink anything (including chewing gum or drinking water) for 30 minutes prior to sample collection. Set a timer if you have to, but allow at least 30 minutes before taking your sample.
Thirty minutes later…
Simply find a private place or a bathroom and grab the included vial to collect your specimen. It’s super easy. You just break off the top of the collection tube and with minimal bubble creation , just spit into the tube until you have enough spit that it reaches the wavy line on the side of the container.
Once your sample is completely collected, just snap on the bluetop, and press down hard, til the liquid flows into the collection tube. This kinda takes a little more force than I was expecting, but don’t be shy! Once the blue liquid is in the spit, just shake the specimen for at least five seconds.
Then pop the sample into the small plastic baggie that’s included in the kit. After it is securely in the baggie, just put it in the self-addressed box that came in the kit.
That’s it! Just drop it in the mailbox! The box says that you can expect results in 6-8 weeks. While you are waiting, you will get an email when your specimen has been received, another email when they start processing it (with an estimated time it will be ready) and a final email when your results are in.
Side note, my boyfriend and I sent ours off on the same day, and his came back a full 4 weeks before mine. I kept checking the Ancestry website, and even though my specimen was set to be ready the end of March, it took until the end of April to actually get the results. Each check of the specimen on the website just said “still processing”. Just a heads up it definitely can take way longer than stated on the box!
Once you get the email that your results are in, you just head over to the Ancestry website and log in. You will get the same ‘opt-in’ questions as stated above, regarding your health data use in a larger database as well as if you want any relatives to be able to contact you if you share a certain amount of DNA.
Just past those two questions will be your results! The results show up in a color coded pie chart infographic. Below it (also color coded) are the ethnicities and origin along with a percentage for each. If you click the little icon to ‘view full results’ you will see your DNA test results overlaid on a map of the world, also color coded with corresponding percentages. It will also give you an ‘additional communities’ section which indicates the likely places your ancestors settled when they came to the US.
The website does tell you how many reference samples your DNA was matched against (around 16,000 for mine) as well as how many possible regions were tested in order to map your ancestral DNA (over 500).
They do reference an update area, where you can periodically check if your results are the most up to date. As more samples are sent in to Ancestry and more regions are added, the company continues to update your results and further improve the accuracy of sample analysis. More data to compare and synthesize, means more precise results. Ancestry started DNA mapping in 2012, and have been adding more regions and samples each year.
Have you taken a DNA analysis test? What was your experience? I’d love to hear if you found anything exciting or unexpected with your results!!