DNA Testing: The best gift you could ever give yourself—with one caveat!
Out of all the records available to genealogists who wish to know more about their ancestors, the best record available is one that we all carry around inside of us—our own DNA.
DNA testing has become one of the most powerful tools available for genealogical research. If you have ever wished for that magical record to appear that solves your family mystery, or confirms an ancestral relationship, than look no further.
The answers that you seek are simply locked up inside of you, your siblings, your parents, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, and your first, second, third, fourth and fifth cousins! In order to be successful, you will want to test as many family members as possible, starting with your oldest living relatives first.
One caveat: privacy and ethical considerations should always be top-of-mind when asking family members (or strangers) to have their DNA tested.
The most painful thing one can learn from DNA testing is that your family isn't who you thought they were. Unfortunately, the commercial testing companies don't cover this in their promotional materials or advertisements—so you must always consider the possibility with whoever you are asking to be tested. Once you have broached the subject with your family members—and have an understanding in place—then you can test with confidence that whatever the results, you and your relatives will have a plan in place for the unexpected.
- Always be sure to ask your relatives before you test them if they would like to be informed of the results, especially if the results aren't what you or they expected (e.g. misattributed parentage, adoption, donor parent, et cetera).
- This way you leave the decision up to them, and you avoid putting yourself in a precarious and uncomfortable situation.
- And remember, you are not only testing for yourself, you are essentially learning information that can affect your entire family! It's an awesome responsibility, and one that should not be taken lightly.
Once you are over the privacy/ethical hurdle, genetic testing can open up a whole new world of genealogical research. There is no other tool available that can so easily help you break through your brick wall, confirm or deny a relationship, and also introduce you to your wider genetic family.
Different companies and tests abound, and depending on your research question you may only need to test with one company, or you may need to take several tests with several different companies. Fort Wick Genealogy offers a free 30 minute genetic consultation, and also a deeper genetic analysis for those who have already tested and would like to better understand their results.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about DNA testing strategies, DNA testing companies, and the many different tests avaiable!