The DNA Kerfuffle

This week everyone is a genetic scientist ~ who knew? Yep. Turns out every moron in the U.S. knows how to interpret DNA results, even if the last science class they took was bio back in 1975.

Actually, interpreting DNA results can be a challenge, as I discovered when my daughter and I took the tests a while back and received strange results. Well, she did anyway. She was 75% Ashkenazi Jewish, as expected, since her father is 100% and I’m 50% (father’s side), but she got a twelfth Irish and a twelfth mishmash. There was no significant Dutch from my mom’s father ~ no great loss, as he was a bad man. I got all excited about this and concluded that my maternal grandma lied about who got her preggers (it happens, hey, and she was a teenager), and my Ohio grandpa was an cool Irish milkman.

I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in a big way that year, so happy I could delete bad man grandpa from my family tree. But to be 100% sure, I sent in a sample to be tested too… and guess what? Yep. The return of bad grandpa! O noez! And not only did my test show almost zero Irish, it pinged the specific part of the Ohio Valley where bad grandpa was from. Dang! Goodbye forever Irish milkman, waaah. It was nice never knowing you. 😢

But how could this happen? There was nothing wrong with my test. I got the 50% Ashkenazi Jewish, as I should have. And not only that, but the ancestry site correctly matched me with a cousin back East and we chatted a bit. My daughter was matched with the same cousin. (My other daughter has declined to take the test, declaring that they are a foolish waste of money. She’s a CPA.)

Later, an actual scientist, as opposed to our trolling POTUS, explained to me about how complicated the process is to determine genetic makeup. The labs use markers to compare your DNA to known samples and arrive at probabilities. The more samples they have, the more you can assume the results are closer to “true.” But they don’t look at your saliva under a microscope and find an eensy beansy shamrock ☘️.

I wrote and hosed some political stuff cuz I’d rather focus on meeee.

Btw, regarding my cousin. As it turns out, you can’t really make up for a lifetime of a non-relationship with a test match and a few emails. We don’t really have much in common to talk about after catching up on the basics. Maybe it would be different if we lived nearby and could go to lunch, but I can’t hop on a plane and spend the money for a vacay on the East Coast, as nice as it might be to meet some blood relatives.

My parents chose not to have close (or in some cases any) relationships with either of their families, for their own reasons, which means I didn’t get to either, and now after all these decades I can’t suddenly create something that never existed.

10 responses to “The DNA Kerfuffle

  1. The family I have I don’t have much in common with. I’ve been defined by things they’ll never truly understand. Thank goodness for friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cool! This is very interesting

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not a CPA, but I tend to agree with your “other” daughter. I am not sure that finding out my roots would have any kind of meaningful impact on me or my life. I’m a first generation American, so I know I don’t have any Native American blood in me and my forebears didn’t come over on the Mayflower or fight for either side in the Civil War. I know where my parents and grandparents came from, and perhaps that helps give me some sense of self. But going back any further than my grandparents doesn’t interest me. Water under the bridge, as they say. So I’ll save the money and go to my grave blissfully ignorant of my ancient bloodlines.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So for meeeee, it’s interesting that I know more about the doings of my paternal biological cousins than I do about the cousins I grew up knowing as cousins (related by adoption, natch). And my paternal bio cousins are interesting people – even the whacko super-political righty-tighty one!

    My adoptive family was “distant” on the maternal side – not given to overly effusive expressions of affection nor any tight need to stay in touch. My adoptive paternal side is very close to one another – those that grew up together in Florida. My dad was a bit of an outsider to his family and he himself tended toward being emotionally aloof, so again, I didn’t really interact all that much with them.

    Since meeting my bio-paternal cousins, though, well, we’ve interacted quite a bit on teh Facebook. I feel “close” to them, as a result.

    As for the science, Yes, specific genes may be passed on or maybe not, and they may be expressed or maybe not expressed and the exemplar data may be scant or may be plentiful so we really can’t say whether 1/1024th is absolute proof of something or other, or is simply wishful thinking.

    I am overall pleased with my results as they did confirm what my adoptive mom had learned from the adoption people – that I had Polish ancestry (that’s all they knew, cuz it turns out my birth mom was Polish all the way down, as in her dad came over from Poland and her mom’s parents did also, etc. but they knew squat about my bio dad).

    My DNA reports me as roughly 30% “Polish”. The rest of the makeup is largely Great Britain with the Scottish/English bits and a lot of generic “Northwestern Europe” (I have found a significant proportion of Dutch in the bio-paternal family tree). No Ashkenazi for moi. Also no Cherokee.

    The displeasing part is in learning that my … diminutive stature … comes from my Polish bio-mom. My bio-dad and his entire family are tall and, if they stay fit, tending toward lean rather than squat and heavy like me. Oh, and that itself is likely from Neandertal. My straight, fine hair is also probably a link back to some Neandertal DNA. My daughter inherited all of that from me, natch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is interesting! I wish my parents hadn’t felt the need to isolate themselves so thoroughly from both sides of the family. I can sorta get why my mom did ~ her dad was a creep and she needed to stay away from the toxic atmosphere. But my dad’s fam was okay. Well, who knows?

      When I went back to check the site as I wrote the poast, my stats had slightly updated from the last time. They’re always refining and refreshing the info as they obtain more samples. My Jewishness was closer to exactly 50% as it should be, not 47 or whatever it was. And they draw a wide circle around western Europe (for now) when they can’t determine exactly which piece your peeps may have come from. But yet they do know I have ancestors from the Ohio valley. They can get THAT specific!


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