Ancestry.com DNA Kit —
Christian Product Review & Perspective
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Recently I had the opportunity to try out Ancestry.com’s home DNA kit (#Ancestry). I saw the advertisement during a television program I was watching, and the commercial said this: through a saliva-based DNA sample that I perform on myself at home (and then mail back), I could discover my ethnicity and the majority of my past.
Wow. That got my attention. I decided to give it a shot.
The kit costs approximately $100.00, and it’s mailed directly to your home with instructions for accurate use. Here’s how the whole thing goes down from that point:
- The AncestryDNA instructions ask for a sample of your saliva
- The company provides a kit with a vial where you deposit the aforementioned saliva
- You mail it back to them in a scientific, well-prepared, self-returned package type deal (And yeah, that’s the official title they give it: the “Scientific, Well-Prepared, Self-Returned Package Type Deal” from Ancestry.com. No, I’m just kidding. But they should have; it has a nice ring to it.)
- It takes about 6-8 weeks to get back. Mine came back in seven weeks.
- And then, through my Ancestry.com personalized family tree account on the site, I have an icon which directs me to my DNA links. This is the exciting moment where you get to see your results that they’ve been posted on the site.
Much to my chagrin, I discovered that the majority of my heritage was 40% from Ireland, 24% Great Britain, 22% Europe West, 3% Asian and 11% Other. I’m assuming the “Other” means superhero DNA, right? Spider-Man? Hopefully? But seriously, wow, that’s a wide range of ethnicity.
I guess that means I can never be a show dog.
It’s none the less interesting. They’re even starting to link me up with potential family members from all over the globe with accuracy and provability of our relations using these DNA links. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s kind of amazing.
The DNA Process
Now you’re probably curious how they get all that information from a saliva sample? Well, this is a loose translation that I’ve compiled from excerpts from the kit and Ancestry.com website:
“They get your DNA from your saliva, then put it on a chip that looks like a stick of gum. They can test about 12 different people on each stick. They test it at 700,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms, meaning they check your DNA at 700,000 different positions. They then look for random changes that have occurred over time. Every time you pass on your DNA to the next generation, you pass on mostly the same things, but there are minor changes. This creates a unique DNA signature for you.
“Then they go on to create your ethnicity prediction, currently comparing you to over 20 populations from all over the world. That’s how they get your composite numbers. They also compare your stretches of DNA to those of others in the program, determining how likely you are to be cousins, and to people you each have in your Ancestry.com family trees. They can detect a fourth cousin with up to a 95% confidence rate, and then the confidence drops off as the level of cousin goes higher. This is understandable. You can then contact the potential cousins for free, but to look at their documents you will need an Ancestry.com subscription.”
As I began to get connected with potential relatives, I also located a photo of my great-great-grandfather James Madison Belcher with wife Betty Shepard born 1880 in Wilson County, Tennessee. It was amazing to see that.
So what’s the verdict? I give it a thumbs up!
I spoke with Ancestry.com representative Matthew Deighton, who was kind enough to supply me a kit in the name of research for Rocking God’s House (and if you’re curious about our affiliate disclosure, you can find that here):
How far can people usually trace their ancestry?
It really depends on their heritage. If there is someone who is from more of the Ukraine, that is going to be a little bit more difficult because of the record of availability. But someone who has deep American history, or British history, even Irish or Swedish, some of those are going to be a little bit easier. Especially the deep American history because we have been able to collect a lot of historical records in America, people that go back to the Revolutionary War, even the Mayflower.
How does Ancestry.com keep up with all of this stuff?
We are digitizing around and uploading on average about 2 million records a day to Ancestry.com. So we are always having new collections, new records, new discoveries. I would love to say we have every historical record and document — we don’t — but we are uploading and digitizing as fast as we can, and it’s always fun to keep researching the website because we are constantly going to have new hints and new records for you.
How did the DNA Kit idea come about?
We are always looking for new records to be able to help people with their family tree and family tree discovery. One of the most detailed records is your DNA. It’s actually going to show you where your family came from. We actually had a DNA test — we have had one for several years. The older DNA test checked at most 46 markers on your DNA, and the new one that just came out — that you took — checks over 700,000 markers. So what we are doing is no longer, do you have to trace your fathers, [grand]fathers and so on, with one line. Now you can actually trace all of your ancestors from whom you inherited DNA, so you can actually do cousin matches as well. Because we are checking all of the ancestors from your DNA, we can say you are, for example, 50% British Isles, 40% Irish, 16% Cameroon — we can actually show that to you in your DNA results. And we can actually show you a new record of your family history which is stored right there in your DNA.
How many noted famous people have tried your DNA Ancestry kit?
In the TV Show Who Do You Think You Are? the majority of the celebrities have taken the DNA test. I think celebrity or not, family history is one of those things that people care about. It is so unique to you. You find the stories, you dig in, and you learn about your family: what makes you you, where your parents came from, what experiences did your family go through that brought you to where you are today. And that is true for everybody.