Monday, June 8, 2020

Not on the Father's Day Sales List?

It is now less than two weeks until Father's Day, at least in North American countries. Yet, all I can spot, on the gift-giving horizon, is one single sale for DNA tests. I'm not sure whether that is a sign that DNA testing has gone out of style, or that it has experienced a chill factor due to worries over the current coronavirus. After all, you may be able to spit in the isolation of your own home, but what becomes of the lab technician who runs the risk of handling contaminated samples?

Meanwhile, it looks like only MyHeritage has taken the opportunity to put their DNA tests on sale for this Father's Day. Genealogy Bargains blogger Thomas MacEntee has made sure to report that right away, and just as surely as he brings all genealogical bargains to light with lightning speed, he has been rather silent about any other DNA opportunities. At least, so far.

I've pretty much convinced every relative I can to test, so I'm not likely to purchase any more kits this year. What I do look forward to, however, is the opportunity to gain new matches. DNA matches have done wonders for the mystery branches on my family tree, but that mechanism requires a certain critical mass to benefit customers. After all, it takes two to make a match. No family member testing, no match for you. And it's rather difficult to know who those mystery cousins are, out there in the great beyond, who would make the case for adding that missing ancestor to your tree.

Meanwhile, I'm still fielding questions and comments about ethnicity results. Today is our local genealogical society's DNA group, which meeting we now hold via videoconferencing. I try to ask members ahead of time which topics they would most like to discuss in the upcoming meeting.

For this month's round of emailed requests, one member wanted to know more about the specifics of ethnicity testing. She told me how, upon discovering the surprising assertion that she had a small but significant percentage of her heritage originating from Sardinia, thought it was strange, but decided to do research on the country, of which she previously knew very little. She studied up so much on the country that she rather warmed up to the idea that part of her roots might have been from Sardinia. In fact, she got to like the idea so much that she planned to add it to her list of places to visit.

And then, her ethnicity estimates got revised. Just when she was hoping to someday travel to her "homeland," that country's entry in her DNA estimates entirely disappeared. She laughs at how disappointed she became at that turn of events, but I imagine she is not the only one to find herself in that position.

I find myself sneaking a peek at my Family Tree DNA accounts to see whether I've received their announced ethnicity update yet, myself. Why, I can't say—I trust the paper trail far more than I believe the estimates. There are too many variables that are included in the mix of who we are and how we got to be where we are now, that we really shouldn't put so much credence upon that aspect of those test kits.

But helping people to find the missing link in their brick walls—now, that is a different issue. I can vouch for that, especially with all the tools companies are now developing to help us sort through those myriad matches. Now, that's what DNA is best at doing for us.

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