23andme and Me

Have you 23’d yourself? By that I mean, have you gotten your DNA from 23andme.com?

I did a few weeks ago and I have been having buckets of fun since doing so. I am not kidding when I say fun. I am into this nerdy kind of stuff. I find data, pattern matching, genealogy, science based facts, and other such topics to be highly engaging.

It has been truly fascinating medically. No, 23andme does not provide the health history but it is incredibly easy to download your raw data from 23andme and upload to a service that does. My mind was blown with how accurate my results were. I did not really learn anything new. I know the prevalence of cancer in my family but it was fascinating to see other things confirmed (like my lactose intolerance!). It was really quite insightful. And no, contrary to what the US government might think, I have not run screaming to my doctors for tests or decided to cut off any parts of my body due to possible cancer risks.

In addition to the nerd and health factors, I have been finding the genealogy aspects particularly intriguing. Readers of this blog may recall that we do not know my paternal history. My father was conceived by my grandmother out of wedlock during WWII. His father was captured by the Nazis. I learned his name after my father passed and later found his concentration camp records (and even more info with the help of the Holocaust Museum). My hope is that I can find members of my grandmothers’ family and/or my father’s.   I have already received some great leads/matches through 23andme.

Every day I poke at this stuff I think about my adoptee friends, particularly those hitting brick walls or dead ends with their searches. I wonder if they have considered 23orme.com? I did message a friend this a.m. and suggest she consider.

Some nuggets of info:

Cost > $99 this includes shipping you the test kit, postage to return it and all processing.

Type > Saliva. You spit a certain amount of saliva (no bubbles) into a tube, seal it up and send it off.

Privacy > Is there such a thing? All kidding aside, this really is a personal decision and I urge you to read the privacy notices on 23andme as well as any other sites you choose to use.

Other options > There are other sites/services you can use. FTDNA and Ancestry come to mind. I am not familiar with them (beyond their existence) but you might want to check them out as well.

About that data > Many aspects (all?) can be rather confusing and difficult to understand. Talk of alleles and haplogroups may be a bit much for some.   A good book I read that helped me understand this is The Seven Daughters of Eve by Oxford Professor Bryan Sykes. Consider it an introductory/primer for the layperson.

That Y Chromosome > Females carry XX. To get a complete picture of your lineage (if you are female) you really need XY. My brother is the only person that may be able to help me in this regard and I am hoping to bring him on board this coming weekend when I see him. That is not to suggest you cannot get interesting data without it, you can.

Now that I have shared the nerd and health factors that triggered my interest, let me share a more personal one.

My dad never knew his father. I know he felt that loss and I heard it in his voice the rare times he would talk about it. Mostly he would say things like “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” or “leave the past in the past”. I knew this was deflection of pain on his part as other times he would express interest. After I found my daughter, he and I sat on my parents’ front porch. He was amazed that I found her. He asked lots of questions (my dad liked nerdy things too) and then his voice changed to a tone that resembled a little boy. I wonder if you could find my father, he asked.

I could not answer him immediately for I was struck by the tone of his voice, the longing and curiosity that only my trained and equally wounded heart could hear. I knew the sound of that longing, that loss, the echo the empty hall in your heart makes due to a missing person. I know how it sounds when it erupts out of your soul and into the space between you and another person.

I told him I would try. He died before I was able to.

I am still trying, Daddy.






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