As a person who was put in foster care as a baby, the genealogical side of me has always been a mystery. I love my parents who raised me but there has been a void inside of me due to not knowing who I came from.
Growing up, I was mainly around people who had their biological family in their lives. I would hear things about family resemblances as well as genetic risks they had. This fueled my interest in finding out information on my genes and maybe even meeting my biological family.
Then came 23andMe
In 2011 I found out about 23andMe through a forum I frequented. One of the threads in the genealogy subforum mentioned African Americans being given free kits for a limited amount of time. I jumped on this opportunity and was ecstatic to see the box in the mail a few weeks later.
I sent my kit back in the mail and had to wait two painful months for results. I was thinking about it everyday! My ancestry results did not really matter to me as much as the health ones did but I was excited to learn about both anyways.
When I saw that the results were in one day, I actually screamed out of happiness. It was a little confusing navigating the site at first but it did not take me too long to figure it out. The fact that my hands were shaking from excitement did not help anything.
I went to my ancestry results first and it said that I am 86.9% African! I was not surprised about that high number because I have strong West African features. At this time in 2011 there were no details when it came to the specific countries that make up my African ancestry so I was left wanting to know more. I was still happy though.
A couple years prior to getting the test done, I had been trying to learn about the West African countries. It was so interesting seeing the women in the countries because it looked like I would be able to blend right in.
As far as the health results go, I learned some odd things. Some of which included that I have a gene for light colored eyes, I am supposedly more likely to have straight hair, less likely to need braces etc. Upon further look I read that the results were only applicable to white and Asian people in some cases. Looking back on it, the fact that my son ended up with blue/green eyes is an indicator that some of it could be true.
I was actually hoping and praying that one of my biological parents or half siblings would be on there. That was not the case however. Sigh. Most of the relatives listed were of northern European descent and only considered to be my 5th cousins.
Maybe someday a closely related relative will join the site. I am not holding out too much hope though. It has been almost eight years since I got the test done and it has not happened yet.
The new results!
Recently the 23andMe company changed everyone’s ancestry reports and added some detailed information. They are now able to pinpoint more specifically where your ancestors came from. It was immensely exciting for me to see my African ancestry broken down after all these years.
The majority of my African heritage is from Nigeria. I have been mistaken for a Nigerian a few times in my life so this was no surprise to me but still wonderful to learn. I am really proud of my heritage!
You should get it done too
If anyone is interested in finding out more about themselves they should definitely check out 23andMe or the other companies that are like it. It is amazing to see how far scientists have come in understanding genetics.
Here are a few links:
You can look at my results here: https://you.23andme.com/published/reports/a8122a1df1054a84a9a2fa599e303a74/?share_id=a7662ad8c09848ef
Have any of you gotten tested by 23andMe or any of the other genetic testing companies?