Sunday, September 2, 2012

DNA Testing - Part 1

To take the test or not?
I've been reading various genealogy blog postings about DNA testing with great interest but never decided to try it out myself.  As a female, I could only take the old mtDNA test, which, quite frankly, sounded like a total waste of time and money.  It seemed overly broad and overly priced, and I couldn't see how it would ever benefit my research or satisfy my curiosity.  I also remain very skeptical about sending a DNA sample out to an ancestral DNA project that I've never heard of before reading about it in someone's blog post.  Because of this, the new AncestryDNA test, still in its beta phase, piqued my curiosity.  This test examines over 700,000 points in your DNA, which makes it much more specific than the old tests.  Also, by having an Ancestry account, you can use your results to make family connections to other users.  I'm not optimistic about making connections just yet because it's so early, but I can see this being a significant tool a few years down the road since so many people, including myself, already use

Paid subscribers first served
So I decided to sign up for an "invitation" to try the new DNA test.  I figured I could always back out if I didn't want to take the test after all.  When I initially signed up, I was not a paid Ancestry subscriber.  Months went by without me hearing anything about trying out the test.  Just over a month ago I paid for a new subscription, and in under two weeks, an invitation to purchase the test was in my inbox.  Was I annoyed by how quickly the invitation came once I became a paid subscriber?  Yes, very.  It seems unfair because I realized paid subscribers are at the top of the waiting list for an opportunity to purchase the test, and this is a cost some people just can't afford to pay in addition to the $99 for the test and about $10 in shipping charges.  This isn't a truly first come, first served waiting list.  However, since so much of the advertising seems to focus on the connections to family trees and other members, I can see from a business perspective why Ancestry would prefer paid subscribers at least during the launch and beta phase--they're the only people who could use the full features of the DNA test.  From Ancestry's standpoint, it would make little sense to have all of the initial testers be people unable to use the product fully.  On the other hand, a wait of months as opposed to a week or two seems way too out of line, and I think Ancestry needs to scatter non-subscribers into its initial pool of "invitees" (or do a much better job of it if they're already doing it to some extent).

The AncestryDNA test
About two weeks after ordering the DNA test (you only get one week to decide to order or not- no pressure or anything), I received my testing kit in the mail.  The instructions in side were incredibly easy to understand and follow.  In fact, I kept re-reading them, thinking I was missing something.  The test itself calls for a certain amount of saliva to be deposited in the tube provided.  Closing the cover to the tube releases some sort of stabilizing chemical.  I then replaced the cover with another one provided, seal it up in a provided baggie, put it in the pre-paid envelope, and mail it out.  Afterwards, I went online and activated my kit on the Ancestry website and chose my settings (whether or not to allow my matches to see all of my ethnicities or only shared ones, for instance).  About two weeks later, I received a confirmation email that my DNA sample was received and that my results should be available in six to eight weeks.  I'm very excited to receive my results and see how this works out.

For now, I wait.


  1. Hi Linda, please keep us updated on what happens! I've been considering this test but I'm still on the fence.

    I'm looking forward to reading about your genealogical journeys! Best,


    1. Thanks Marian! I will definitely write an update blog post when the results come in.

  2. Linda, I too, recently sent off my Ancestry DNA test and am patiently, or not so patiently anticipating the results. I've been a member of ancestry for quite some time now, and even though that, when I put myself on the waiting list, it was several months before I was emailed that it was my turn. So, I don't think the wait was due to the fact that you were not a member, but more so due to a high demand. Because of the high demand and a limit of resources and testers, they can only say "Hey, it's your turn, want it or not?" for a limited window of opportunity, then the chance falls to those next on the list if you don't take advantage of it. I've dealt with DNA tests in the past, with dogs, and it's a timely process. No drive-thru windows, there, either. I've also participated in a tribal DNA test,a mtDNA test through my maternal grandmothers side, that of course only measured that line. I am excited to compare those results to this new one, in which I will have my father's side and my maternal grandfather's side included. I'm expecting to find lots of cousins that will hopefully help in filling out my family tree. Living on the East Coast, where family goes back 10 plus generations, I am descended from the ones who stayed behind, while many of the siblings and children of my ancestors migrated west. I am hoping to connect to the descendants of those westward travelers and perhaps take them back several generations more than they have been able to. Welcome to Geneabloggers, by the way. It's always nice to meet others who share this passion, as my husband and kids don't (yet) get it.

    1. Thanks for the insight! I struggled with the idea of it being coincidence, but it sounds like that's what the timing really may have been based on your experience. Best of luck finding some of the western family! I'd love to exchange experiences once we both get results back, especially on how well the member connect portion works for us and whether there are any surprises.

    2. Update: I just got this off of Ancestry's Facebook page- "A quick update on the AncestryDNA invitation list. As a perk, we’re currently sending out invitations to members with a paid subscription first. However, we plan to start sending invites to our other members in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on your inbox. To learn more about the new AncestryDNA test and get a spot on the waiting list, sign up here:"