There is so much that I don’t understand, a few things that I do, but most things, I don’t. DNA is one of those.
DNA, the blueprint of you and me. I have no clue at all on how, why, what, who or even when but DNA is something that can now be read and interpreted by clever machines and science people – clever science people. I know that it is used to catch criminals and can be used as sound evidence in a court room, even from one single hair or tiny drop of blood. DNA was something used by people such as the FBI for forensics – in real life and on the telly, but not something us civilians could use or get access to… until now.
Yep, we common folk can have our DNA tested. No applications or reasons needed, no one asks you any questions you just simply pay, spit in a tube, send it off and wait very patiently for 6 – 8 weeks for the reports. The company is called 23andme, www.23andme.com
Why do want that done? I hear you ask. Well, people will have their own various reasons for wanting to see this information and I imagine those reasons stem from a general intrigue, ancestry, health, even contributing to research. For me, it’s ancestry.
I have only ever had tiny clues and snippets of information on the background to my father. Divorced pretty much all my life, there was always somewhat of a mystery around my parents. My mum – a beautiful blonde haired blue eyed ‘English rose’, has always tried to tell me what ever she could about my fathers side of the family and I learnt all about hers but my father would never speak of his, you could never mention it. To me as a child my dad always looked like an Iraqi with dark features, hair and beard, and my grandmother seemed to have a slight accent – I always thought she was from Spain, my grandfather was a silent scary type of figure who I didn’t really have much of an opinion of at all – other than to avoid him.
Me and my brother were olive skinned compared to the rest of the family, blue grey eyes and dark hair. I always imagined we may have been adopted as we looked different from everyone else! Our older half brother and sister looked just like mum but then there was us, these two brown as a berry kiddos. It’s sad how things that were said to you as a child can stay with you, being called a ‘packy’ for years by other children and told to ‘go back to my own country’ stayed with me. I didn’t understand it at the time as I was English and I used to hate it. Sounds so ridiculous to me now!
Stories of my paternal aunt finding a photograph of a woman in a sari and the fact my grandfather was in the cavalry and sent to India, were the only two clues that pointed to the mysterious foreign blood that had seeped down the generations. There was nothing else, that’s all we had. I honestly felt my whole life, until recently, that there was a missing puzzle piece and a void in knowing anything about the paternal side of my family. There was a nothing, a huge gap, just a few names and the date of birth of my father, that’s it.
When I heard about 23andme it presented me with the opportunity to confirm my ancestry. The idea of having the answers to a lifelong question was exciting, nerve-racking and I couldn’t really believe it. $200 and 6 – 8 weeks away from truth. This opportunity was priceless to me, I would have paid lots of money as for me the chance to access this information is invaluable. $200 was totally worth it to me for the science and discovery that was on offer. Ordered online in the most simple of steps, spit in a tube when it arrives and send it back in a pre paid box. Done. My spit had all the answers. Isn’t that crazy? Honestly blows me away the fact so much can be read from a bit of gob 🙂
I can’t sum up the emotions tied in with getting the results of my DNA. Years of stuff, a lifetime and a whole heap of other traumas had come to an end. That missing puzzle piece was finally put in place. There were many tears, tears of relief, tears of anger, of sorrow that I could no longer share this with my precious brother and tears of joy!
The ancestry report is composed of your DNA that comes from each of the 31 populations worldwide and includes DNA from all ancestors on both sides of the family. So the results are a reflection, proportionally, of where my ancestors lived 500 years ago – as the report said ‘before any ocean-crossing ships and airplanes were on the scene’.
I am solidly North-western European, no surprises there but proportionally a quarter of my DNA is mostly from South Asia – Indian, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh…bingo!! 3.2% to Southern Europe which includes Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsula’s and Sardinia – the Mediterranean has kept these regions connected, this was a pleasant surprise!
There are a few reports to play with such as traits – what makes you look like your family members, carrier status – potential variants you can pass on and wellness. You also have the choice of making some details open to hook you up with other people related to you through your DNA. Unbelievable isn’t it?
So there is my 23andme story so far, I have so much to look at and explore in these results. I highly, highly recommend them, they deal with the whole issue in such a great and easy to understand way, they have clear reports which are not just presented to you but you are gently lead to look at whichever aspects you wish see.
To end with the words printed on the 23andme box when it arrived, welcome to you!