In November I bit the bullet and sent away for an Ancestry DNA kit – I’d been pondering the idea for nearly and year, and finally decided it might well be a means of breaking through some brick walls. The kit, mailed from the States, arrived within a week and I ‘did the deed’ the next day, spitting into a test tube, mixing the blue solution thoroughly, and posting it that morning in the pre-paid envelope.

I checked the DNA tab on the Ancestry website regularly – and on the 15th of November I saw that my envelope had been received; two days later, the website indicated that lab processing had begun. The informational materials suggested that it would take 6-8 weeks for the results to be ready but on the 29th of the month, there they were. I didn’t receive the email notification that I’d been promised, but never mind!

It was a complete revelation.

My ethnicity estimate shows that my DNA consists of:  31% Scandinavia, 30% Ireland, 14% Iberian Peninsula, 10% Great Britain, 8% Europe West, 6% Europe East and about 1% Caucasus.

I’m more Irish and Scandinavian that British?

I read all the relevant pop-up explanations, and the white papers.  I learned that my siblings, if tested, might have different percentages due to the fact that DNA is handed out randomly by our ancestors. Although my sister and I each receive 50% of our DNA from our father and 50% from our mother, a process called recombination scrambles small genetic differences to create chromosomes in eggs and sperm with unique combinations of genes. It makes us all unique! The exception, of course, is identical twins.

The genetic ethnicity estimates are created by comparing my DNA to the DNA of others native to a region; the Ancestry DNA reference panel contains samples from people in 26 global regions. Forty separate analyses are run, each giving an independent estimate of ethnicity, and each one done with randomly selected portions of my DNA.

It’s complicated, and I’m not of a scientific bent. Needless to say, the ethnicity numbers weren’t my primary interest in the testing.

It’s all about the matches!

I was provided with links to individuals with whom I share DNA.  If one presumes that my research is correct and their research is correct, then we should find exactly where our family trees converge.  I quickly found six individuals whom I knew were part of my larger tree – to my mind, that confirmed the DNA testing was as accurate as I had hoped it would be.

And the dozens of other individuals to whom I’m connected even though I don’t recognize the connection at this point? I’m busy sending messages and hoping to figure it all out!

I can hear those brick walls crumbling as I type!