internet indiscretions

Adoption & Ancestry: Drumroll Please, Because the Genetic DNA Test Results are In

by Angelica Leicht Posted: 09-10-15 | 2 years ago
adoption blog

Thanks to some family secrets and an adoption or two, I have spent my entire life wondering who I am — until now. In this series, I’m going to pull up the rug and dig. Maybe I’ll get lucky. 

You can find the first entry here, where I talk about why I’m searching for these answers.

The second entry is here — it’s pretty interesting — and the third installation right here.

The fourth and fifth entries about the guilt that comes along with searching for birth families are here and here.

And the most recent one can be found here, if you’re interested in catching up.

Guess which one of us used to live in a cave? Mhmm. Judge away.
Guess which one of us used to live in a cave? Mhmm. Judge away.

As I’ve said repeatedly, my younger sister bit the bullet (and the $99) for the sake of this project and tested her ancestral DNA. And the results are in!

Well, sort of. Some of them are in. But still, it’s something! Bright light at the end of the tunnel or whatever. Especially since the last week has yielded no other new leads on my father’s adoption.

So here’s what happened. Yesterday, the ticker on my sister’s online 23&Me profile finally jumped from the testing phase to the “review” phase — or, in lament’s terms, the phase where they make sure everything derived from the DNA sample was kosher — which means that a door in this whole adoption thing may finally be opening up for us.

And this morning, the results of the test have started to trickle in. Yay!

But as I said, the results are limited, because 23&Me uploads the bits of information as they become available. So, here’s what has been parsed out so far.

  • My mom’s side traces back to Eastern Asia.

“Along your mother’s line, you have ancestry in Eastern Asia in the past few hundred years, that traces back to eastern Africa around 50,000 years ago.”

This information is honestly not that surprising, considering that I’d already been successful in tracing back her lineage pretty far myself.

Don't know what this means, but sure.
Don’t know what this means, but sure.

If you look at the graph above, it breaks down the major areas where U8A1A, or the maternal line, can be traced to: Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia and Africa look like they’re the most prevalent. Australia does not surprise me either, given that the island was inhabited by people — read: criminals — who were exiled from Great Britain in the 1800s. Now I can blame my criminal ancestors in Australia for the fact that I’m always ready to cut a bitch.

  • My sister is a Neanderthal.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 9.02.50 AMFor real.

“You have an estimated 2.9%Neanderthal DNA, which puts you in the 76th percentile among all 23andMe members.”

As she put it, “I guess this explains our shoulders, but not our height.”

  • And, of course my dad’s side still found a way to be a pain in my arse.

I’m super excited about getting some information, even if it’s not technically mine. But there’s a clincher here. We still won’t glean much information on my father, because my sister is, well, female, which means she doesn’t have the y chromosome from my father.

There will be some information that trickles in, but the information on our paternal line will be limited. Here’s what 23&Me has to say about it:

“The Paternal Line assignment comes from the Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son. Women are not assigned a paternal haplogroup because they do not inherit a Y chromosome.

The paternal haplogroup is not the only information available about your father’s side. Both men and women receive information about both sides of their family from the other 22 pairs of chromosomes. Your DNA Relatives matches and Ancestry Composition include both maternal and paternal sides of your ancestry. The analysis performed on the DNA is the same for both men and women.”

There isn’t any information about my father in there yet, though. The universe likes to be difficult when it comes to information for these blogs.

And since that information will be limited at best, I’m now thinking that maybe we can get my brother to do the test, too. Especially now that we’ve pressured him on the Internet. Please, please?

But even if he doesn’t take the test, I’m still kind of hopeful. There are plenty of anecdotes about people who have found birth relatives — a cousin, an aunt, etc — by using 23&Me or a service like it, so the limited breakdown on my father’s genetics may not matter all that much. Some birth parents have even been outed accidentally, which is odd, but it happens, I guess.

Here’s what the site has to say on the subject:

Finding Biological Relatives

23andMe is not a service designed to help people find their biological parents, but several of our features can help you find people you are related to.

DNA Relatives is a feature that compares all of our customers’ genetic data, looking for shared segments of DNA. These shared segments indicate that two people are related through a common ancestor.

The number of relatives you will be matched to can vary. For example, people with European ancestry often have over 100 relatives. People with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, a group that is more related than average, may have more than 1,000 relatives. People with Asian ancestry will likely have fewer matches.

You can be confident that the matches listed in DNA Relatives are your relatives, even though they may be quite distantly related to you. The vast majority of relatives found by DNA Relatives share a common ancestor within the last five to ten generations. A few may be more distantly related. There is, however, the possibility of finding a much closer relative – including a parent or sibling.

A second feature that can help give you information about relatives is our Family Traits tool. If you believe another person might be related to you, and they agree to submit a sample to 23andMe, you can see whether you share segments of DNA. If you do, you will also be matched in DNA Relatives.

I’ll update as the rest of the results come in, but at least this week we’re getting somewhere. Even if it’s just definitive proof that my sister is a Neanderthal, and that I am the classy one in the family.

It’s always pinky up for this Cro-Magnon woman. Always.

(By the way, I’m having my sister, who studied nerdy shit like this for a long time, dig through some of the preliminary results. So if she can help clarify, I’ll update here. Otherwise, I’ll start anew.)



Angelica Leicht

“As a former alt-weekly writer and editor, Angelica has plenty of experience in listicles and fighting the man. She now spends most of her time side-eying and listening to terrible pop music while plotting how to raise a little Texas-bred hell.”

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  1. Suzanna

    Your sister is hot.


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