Genetic DNA, Patience Is The Word

DNA has been around since…well forever. It will be around forever. What has not been around forever has been our ability to get to it and to understand it. All that getting to it, understanding it and connecting to it takes patience.

I am currently working with a client who is in her late 80’s. She is adopted and she has never been able to find out much about her birth story other than where she was adopted, her name, “Girl X”, and her date of birth. She has patiently spent some of her time trying to gain access from her records via the County Courthouse where she was adopted only to be turned away with, “there isn’t anything in the file and if there was it wouldn’t be available to you if there was.”

Then her kids had some health issues and she wanted to know more. DNA has arrived so she sent away to 23andMe to get her medical information. She did and she seems to be OK with the DNA Medical knowledge, but, she still wants to know about HER story. The one where she came into the world drew breath and was given away for what ever reason.

And that takes patience.

I laughed at myself today and tonight. I sent out letters to people she matches on 23andMe and to people she matches ad GEDmatch. I got a few replies, but one of them? One of the relies has the promise of bigger answers to her questions. This match is so very close to her. But, I worked all day and heard nothing. I ate dinner and after dinner I was scheduled for a webinar through the Association of Professional Genealogists and just as I was getting myself signed in for the said webinar I see my mailbox lights up. It has just received the first of two emails from the match with the bigger answers…Oh the patience it took to stay the course and participate in the webinar. I did it, though I still haven’t opened the emails yet. I was so struck by the little bit of patience I needed to have, just for an hour and a half tonight, that I wanted to write this blog post while it was still such a real feeling for me. And to think my client has been waiting patiently for a lifetime to receive her answers.

Patience is the word.

McElmoyle DNA and One Name Project

Oh the trials and tribulations of administering/managing a One Name Study and DNA Project for a not so popular (it’s not like these people were left out of the prom, is popular really a good word?) Surname (and popular, it isn’t like these people chose to be named this, like it was the most popular name so they took it).

After years of talking to a friend(?)/fb buddy about her husbands family’s possible connection to my family, her husband got a DNA test done. She and he chose to go with Ancestry, so all we have is an Ancestry atDNA test. Since my Dad and I are the only other testers for the McElmoyle family line (that I know of) and our DNA is not with Ancestry, I grabbed her husbands DNA and uploaded it to GEDmatch and BOOM – not a match – Dang.

Yet.

Why? Because Autosomal testing only reveals matches back for a certain distance. I explained this in a previous blog, DNA – Who To Test?

“For other relatively close cousins, that are not in your direct maternal or paternal line, you can test anyone who matches you through your genealogical research. They can take an Autosomal (auDNA/atDNA) test. This is not a deep ancestor test and ‘can be used to confirm relationships with a high level of accuracy for parent/child relationships and all relationships up to the second cousin level. For all relationships other than parent/child relationships additional contextual and genealogical information is required to confirm the nature of the relationship.'(ISOGGAccuracy of tests)”

So this means we have our first male line, McElmoyle surname DNA tester and we can compare him autosomally with other fairly close people, but, he needs to transfer his DNA over to FamilyTree DNA, then at some point upgrade to a yDNA test to reach a wider piece of the DNA pie. To put his DNA into a bigger Gene pool.

Patience, oh Genealogy takes patience.

I was thinking yesterday that not only did our ancestors name their children the same names for generations just to make all of this hard for us, but they also split the family up just across county lines and made undocumented adoptions just to stir the pot of our genealogical insanity a bit more.

DNA – Who to test?

Why, every single cousin if you are a real Gene/Genea-Geek. If you are not a Gene/Genea-Geek and you are just getting started the answer is as simple as:

What do you want to know?

To find information about your Mothers direct maternal line, you would test a male or female family member who is descended from any of your mothers, mothers – going back as far as your would like to go. They would get a Mitochondrial (mtDNA) test. This is a very deep test which can follow a line back for a very long time, it “is passed down by the mother unchanged, to all her children, both male and female.”(ISOGGMitochondrial DNA Tests)

For your fathers line, you can test your brother, your father, and any male cousins who share your LNAB surname. They can take a yDNA test. This is another very deep test which can follow a line back a great distance. “The Y chromosome, like the patrilineal surname, passes down virtually unchanged from father to son.” (ISOGG – yDNA Chromosome DNA Tests)

For other relatively close cousins, that are not in your direct maternal or paternal line, you can test anyone who matches you through your genealogical research. They can take an Autosomal (auDNA/atDNA) test. This is not a deep ancestor test and “can be used to confirm relationships with a high level of accuracy for parent/child relationships and all relationships up to the second cousin level. For all relationships other than parent/child relationships additional contextual and genealogical information is required to confirm the nature of the relationship.”(ISOGGAccuracy of tests)

If you are interested in knowing your ethnic genetic make-up then you would only test yourself. This would give you your specific Haplo Group, “a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patrilineal or matrilineal line.”(ISOGGHaplogroup)

Where to test? You want to have your DNA and the others (the people you want to test) DNA in the biggest DNA Gene Pool(s) as possible. From a recent class on DNA on Triangulation with Kitty Munson Cooper she suggested starting your testing with Ancestry for atDNA, then transferring your results over to FamilyTree DNA and upgrading to other tests for mtDNA or yDNA from there. This way you have your DNA in two big gene pools right off the bat (this as of march 2016).

Now run out and find all the cousins in your genealogical paperwork and talk them into doing a DNA test!