Wednesday, April 19, 2017

DNA Day Sales 2017


There are lots of DNA Day Sales to chose from this year!


AncestryDNA


USA - 20% off, click here to order, April 21st - 26th




Canada - $30 off, click here to order, April 19th - 25th



UK - 25% off,  click here to order,  April 24rd - 26th




Australia (ancestry.com.au) - No DNA Day Sale announced as of April 20th 



Family Tree DNA

Sales on Family Finder, mtFull and Y-DNA click here to order, April 20th - 27th at 11:59pm CST




LivingDNA


$40 off, click here to order, 12pm GMT April 20th - 12pm GMT April 26th 






MyHeritage

No DNA Day kit sale announced as of April 20th.

DNA kit still reduced to $79, order here.

Free DNA uploads here.

Special deal on Record Subscriptions: You can get a 14 day free trial for the Complete records subscription here, plus more than 50% off for the year if the subscription is continued after the trial. This is for new customers only.


23andMe

No DNA Day kit sale announced as of April 20th. 


**I will continue to update this post if more sales are announced, so please check back.**

Disclosure Statement

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Fourth Pond: MyHeritage DNA

For years we have been advising DNA testers, specifically those searching for birth family and attempting to solve family mysteries, to test at all three of the major DNA testing companies, in other words to “fish in all three ponds.”  These three autosomal DNA databases – AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTree DNA - now contain between about five to six million testers in total. 

For another company to be able to compete in this space, they must offer a test comparable in resolution and features, and be prepared to tackle the challenging proposition of “catching up” with the databases of the other three companies. That is a tall order and, so far, there have been no other companies to earn our recommendation. With that said, I believe the time has come that we must consider revising our advice to include a fourth “pond,” MyHeritage DNA.


When a genealogist or person of unknown parentage is seeking to answer a specific question about their ancestors, near or far, the chance of success, at least, partially relies on luck. Who else has tested at the same company? For unknown parentage this is especially true. For example, an adoptee may test at only one company, while the birth parent or sibling is tested at another. If the attempt to search goes no further, then there will be no successful outcome. Since all of these databases are proprietary and only a relatively small percentage upload to the third party comparison site Gedmatch, it is essential for those engaged in unresolved searches to make sure the DNA is submitted to all databases where there may be a unique match.

Recently, MyHeritage launched their DNA matching service. For most of us, it may be easy to ignore them for now while they work out their questionable matching algorithms and grow their database to a size that earns our interest, but for those of unknown parentage or for birth parents who have yet to find success in their searches, it may not be prudent to do so. In the last couple of weeks, I have been made aware of several unknown parentage cases that were resolved through MyHeritage DNA. These searchers had made sure that their DNA was “fishing in all three of the ponds,” plus Gedmatch, and yet had not found the answers they were seeking in any of those databases. Since MyHeritage offers a free upload of the raw data files from the other three DNA testing companies, this has encouraged some in my DNA Detectives Facebook group to try it out.

Well, it turns out that MyHeritage is having success at attracting its own unique group of testers who are not at the other three companies. Lo and behold, for some, what they have been looking for is in that database and nowhere else. Since it is, undoubtedly, still the smallest database, the odds of finding a close match are presently low, but they are clearly not zero.

Consider these three recent MyHeritage DNA success stories.

STORY ONE

From Robin:

The father was my first love, high school sweetheart. He was three years older.  We had talked about getting married but something happened…he turned and suddenly didn’t want anything to do with me.  I was devastated and distraught. 

I gave my daughter up through the LDS Social Services in a closed adoption.  At the time they did not do adoptions with pictures or information given to the birth parent after the birth.  I had told my counselor that someday I wanted to meet her.

I had tried everything to try and find her.  I had always thought she was adopted in California.  It wasn’t but about 20 years ago that I found out it was actually in Davis County, Utah.  I had been looking in the wrong place.  I tried to register in the Utah adoption registry, but they wouldn’t let me because the birth had to be in that state.  I tried to register in the Hawaii adoption registry, but they wouldn’t let me because the adoption had to be there.  The birth was in Hawaii and adoption in Utah -- just opposite from their rules.  I tried to send for the amended birth certificate hoping someone would screw-up and send it to me.  I got the original one….  I tried talking with people in Hawaii.  I tried talking with people in Utah.  I tried writing the court to tell them I had cancer in 2003 and it was imperative that I get a hold of her to let her know the medical history.  They never wrote me back… I even had a friend attorney try to find a loophole the in Hawaii law code that would permit me to have the records open. No luck, nothing.  I was pretty discouraged.  My mother passed in 2001 and I had always wanted her to meet my daughter but it didn’t happen.  I even would say, ”Mom, I know you know who she is now and please just whisper her name in my ear.”  If I had a name I knew the chances of finding her were pretty good.

My husband and I also wanted to do our DNA even though we had a fairly good idea of our roots and where we were from. For Christmas 2016 we decided to both do our DNA through AncestryDNA.  My friend Jennifer was helping me… and in the process I told her my story about having a child at 15 and giving her up for adoption.  She said, “You have to meet my sister!!”
Her sister Mckell, came over to my house and told me how she helps people find people.  She told me that I have to upload my DNA data with other sites.  I was a little skeptical at first because that was really putting myself out there, but, oh well, the government knows everything about us anyway, what the heck!  She had me go on this site and that site and to MyHeritage. This was in February 2017.  I was grateful to her but really didn’t think about it much after that day.  Every now and then I would get an email from the sites saying they found my 14th cousin….ok, that’s an exaggeration but you get what I mean.  No big deal, right. 

So on Sunday April 2nd I had received a notice on my phone that I had an email from MyHeritage.  Oh another one of those….  I hadn’t been feeling good so I pretty much lay around, watched TV all day.  That evening I got ready for bed and decided to look at my emails.  It was about 10pm.  I pulled the email up and started to read...

Hi Robin,
Good news! We’ve discovered new DNA Matches for you.
(OK another one….)
Your top new DNA Matches
Becky
Age 40's
From USA
49.1% shared DNA suggest the following possible relationship:
Daughter
(What the heck…)
It took my breath away. 


Robin's MyHeritage Match

I quickly called Jennifer, she didn’t answer so I texted her: "MyHeritage…..Daughter….call me ASAP!" She called Mckell and Mckell called me all calm like.  I told her and she said,  "Robin, that is HER!"  I kept questioning because I just couldn’t believe it. The next two hours Mckell and I were on the phone trying to find out everything I could about Becky.  I still couldn’t find her birthday.  That was the one piece that would cinch this whole puzzle for me to really know if it was her.

At 7:40 am I sent Becky a private message to her Facebook page,
"Hi Becky my name is Robin … and I live in Mesa, AZ.  My Heritage DNA messaged me yesterday and if you are who I think you are, I have been looking for you practically my whole life.  When is your birthday? Please call me 480 -…"

I went to work and stewed all day.  I couldn’t focus and I tried to keep myself busy.  Finally at 2:33pm I got a response:
Hi Robin! What a surprise! Can you tell me the birthdate of the person you think I am? (Winky face)

Me: Yes I gave birth to a daughter January 10, 19xx [removed for privacy] in Queens Hospital in Honolulu Hawaii. I was 15 yrs old.

Her: (Big smiley face) OMGoodness!!! WOW!!! Yes, it’s me (cheezy grin) Forgive me, I’m kind of in shock.  Can we text for a bit before we talk? 

Me: Yes, I found out last night about 10pm.  I have a friend that made me sign up in MyHeritage…I was up till 1am,  got up this am at 6. Had to take a sleeping pill I was so excited….I’m at work but its ok.  Whenever you are ready…I’ve waited this long :)

We continued to talk back and forth until she had to go get ready for work.  I told her we have seven children and that she has five sisters and two brothers.  She was blown away, but in a good way.  She was so excited to have sisters.  She always wanted a big family.  I told her we have 30 in our family -- and that is just my husband and I, our kids, their spouses, and grandchildren. 

Becky had done her DNA through MyHeritage to find out her roots….she got a lot more than she bargained for.

So much more happened…. Then we met….that’s another story….

Robin and her biological daughter Becky meeting for the first time

Robin's daughter Becky had only tested at one DNA company.  

Unlike a person of unknown parentage searching for their birth parents, when a birth parent is searching for their biological child, it is like searching for a needle in a haystack. This is because that one person (or their descendants) has to have also taken a DNA test. Very importantly, they must be in the same database. In this case, if Robin had only submitted her DNA to one, two or three of the DNA testing companies, and if Mckell had not encouraged Robin to upload to MyHeritage, she would not be reunited with her daughter today. 


STORY TWO


Nancy used MyHeritage in her search for her mother's birth parents

From Nancy:

Well thanks to you and a 20/20 piece you did, I took my first DNA test with AncestryDNA last year. (My husband did as well and found his birth father!) I was trying to uncover my mother’s true origins. The story I had heard was that my mom's birthmother had my mom and went away with her. She then came back to the birth father’s house and dropped her off to never be seen again. In the end, my mom was raised by neither birth parent and ended up being adopted by someone else.

I took all available tests out there and transferred my raw DNA data to all sites that were free. My best match was a 4th cousin on AncestryDNA.

About two weeks ago I get an email from MyHeritage about a match with 870.8 cM shared and, at the same time, I got a match on AncestryDNA with 355 cM shared.  The MyHeritage match turned out to be my half-aunt on my maternal grandmother’s side and the AncestryDNA match was my half-first cousin on my maternal grandfather’s side, so each match identified one of my mother’s birth parents! 

My aunt told me that my mom’s birth father and grandmother came and took the baby from her and told her to stay away! She said the family knew about my mom and they would celebrate her birthday and keep her memory alive in the family. Tragically, according to my aunt, my maternal grandmother died heartbroken over losing her daughter.


Nancy's mom and her birthparents

Bittersweet discovery, but finally some answers. 

It turns out that while Nancy's DNA was in all the databases, her aunt had ONLY tested at MyHeritage. 

She explained, "I was bored one day from surgery and I started looking into it. I bought my kit, sent in my DNA, and the rest is history! I have never done this before. I am so glad I did -- LOOK. We found each other, Mija. I am so happy." 

She further explained her main goal in testing was to confirm Native American ancestry. It is difficult to predict why a person might test in one database and not another – even the smaller ones.


STORY THREE


Get your tissues out for this beautiful story of sisters, Morgan and Jennisara, finding each other.


  

---------

These recent success stories have convinced me that for those searching for close biological family members, if all else fails, it is time to give MyHeritage a try. Thanks to the company's offer of free raw data uploads it will cost nothing to do so and the small effort may pay off handsomely. You just never know who it sitting in that database waiting to be matched to you, or who will test there next week or next year. It is worth the effort to make sure we are covering all the bases. 

If you are looking to break down more distant genealogical brick walls, you may also want to consider uploading your raw data while it is still free. Please note, however, that at this time there seem to be issues with the matching algorithms, so I would approach the matches with caution. (Of course, any close family matches like the ones in the story above should be very reliable due to the ease of detecting/predicting these.) For those researching more recent European roots, I believe MyHeritage DNA will continue to grow in importance due to their appeal to testers outside of the United States. 


You can upload here.


Best of luck with your searches/research and I would love to hear about any more MyHeritage DNA success stories in the comments below.


[Edited to add: MyHeritage has offered my readers a free 14-day trial for their genealogical records Complete Plan, plus over 50% off for the year for those who continue after the trial period. This offer is good for new customers only. The trial can be be found here.]

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The New Living DNA Test: A Review of My Results


I mailed in my complimentary Living DNA kit at the end of October. The test is performed using the Illumina Global Screening Array Chip. I took some photos of the kit, so testers will know what to expect. 

The Kit



Living DNA uses a swab for sample collection, as shown here. There are two in each kit. The collection process is relatively easy and involves no liquid. Although Living DNA is a British company, the mailing address for my kit was Eurofins Genomics in Louisville, Kentucky. (Eurofins is one of their partners according to the website, and the testing is done in Denmark.) The decision to use swabs for DNA collection instead of saliva, undoubtedly, makes shipping the samples to the lab from the United States, and internationally within Europe, simpler.


I received my results on February 7th, just as I was leaving for RootsTech. Now that I am home, I have had a chance to finally look them over.

Results
My results include an admixture prediction (percentages of overall ancestral origins based on autosomal DNA) and my mtDNA haplogroup (which was correct - U5b1b2). Males will also receive their Y-DNA haplogroup. 

Currently, there is no relative matching feature, but it is expected to be added in the near future, which will be essential for genealogical and unknown parentage applications. This will be a terrific addition to the U.S.-based databases we already use in our research, since it will have a unique British, and presumably, European market. 


I was excited to receive these results since I have recent English ancestry and they promised to provide a very detailed breakdown of ancestral origins within the British Isles, with 21 separate categories. You can see the descriptions of those categories here

Reportedly, this test is only looking back to where your ancestors were about four to five generations ago, but the What you are made of section on the site states, "A typical profile provides your genetic ancestry going back about six generations." Either way, this is not a deep ancestry analysis and should reflect what we know about our recent ancestors. (Edit: The site has been updated to reflect a ten generation reach, which makes more sense to me.)

Like 23andMe's former version of Ancestry Composition, the admixture results are presented at three different levels: Global, Regional and Sub-Regions. 

Here are mine. 

Global

At 23andMe, I am 100% European. 
At AncestryDNA, I am 99% European.
At Family Tree DNA, I am 97% European.

Regional

At 23andMe, I am 24.8% British/Irish and 22% Finnish. 
At AncestryDNA, I am 0% Great Britain, 10% Irish and 21% Finland/Northwest Russia.
At Family Tree DNA, I am 27% British Isles and 23% Finland and Northern Siberian.

It is immediately obvious that something is off with the Living DNA estimate, since my grandmother was of full Finnish ancestry and all three of the other companies accurately detect that (21% - 23%). Conversely, Living DNA only estimates 12.6% in their Europe East category for me, which includes Finnish DNA.  (On a side note, I consider this a misnomer. Finland is generally not considered to be part of Eastern Europe.) 

 Results Map


On the "Your Family Ancestry" page, in the How the Science Works section, Living DNA states this:
I do not accept that explanation and I hope their other customers will not be misled by it either. It is absurd to claim that it is realistically possible to inherit 0% of a grandparent's DNA. 

LivingDNA estimates that 81.7% of my DNA comes from Great Britain and Ireland. That is a significant overestimate. I have one great grandfather of full British ancestry (~12.5%) and one second great grandmother of full British ancestry (~6.25%). All of the rest of my known British ancestry, with the exception of two possible Irish 5th great grandparents, is Colonial American.  I do have some genealogical brick walls, but my matches on those lines do not indicate that behind any of them is a recent British ancestor. The other reputable companies estimate I am between 10% - 27% British/Irish. 

CeCe's Family Tree, British Ancestors in Red
Click on Image to Enlarge

I also have a great grandparent of full Norwegian ancestry as well as a significant amount of German ancestry. 

So, let's look at my Sub-regional estimates:

Sub Regions
Click on Image to Enlarge


According to these results, my ancestors came from many different areas of England, which is certainly possible if you look very deep into my pedigree, back to my immigrant ancestors in the 1600's. Focusing on my more recent English ancestors, let's see if these estimates are consistent with their known origins.

My great grandfather, George Henry Allen was born in Australia, but both of his parents, George Allen (b.1851) and Flora Chitts (b.1849) were born in Gloucestershire, England, as were their known ancestors. So, I should have inherited about 12.5% of my DNA from this area. According to this page, Gloucestershire ancestry would fall into the South Central England sub-region. I have an estimated 8% from this category. So, a little low, but not impossible when taking into account the randomness of recombination. 

My third great grandfather Thomas Armstrong was born 1801 in Cumberland (as were his known ancestors). I would have inherited approximately 3.125% of my DNA from him. The area that was once Cumberland is now part of Cumbria. According to Living DNA I have 6.4% in the Cumbria category. 

My third great grandmother Dorothy Hudspith was born 1811 in Northumberland (as were her known ancestors). I would carry about 3.125% of her DNA. Northumberland would be in the Northumbria category. 0% of my DNA is predicted to have originated in Northumbria.  

As I mentioned, I have two unconfirmed fifth great grandparents from Ireland (on different lines). One of them was reportedly born in County Armagh. If this is accurate, then I would expect to have about 1.56% of Irish DNA. I have 2.1% in the Southwest Scotland and Northern Ireland category, so this appears to be roughly consistent. 

What does that leave?
14.5% South Wales Border - no known recent ancestry from this area
14.1% Central England - no known recent ancestry from this area
12.4% Southeast England - This category could be representative of my German ancestry. The site states this about it: 

5.8% Cornwall - no known recent ancestry from this area
5.1% South Yorkshire - no known recent ancestry from this area
1.3% Northwest England - no known recent ancestry from this area
1.1% Devon - no known recent ancestry from this area
11.5% Unassigned Great Britain and Ireland 

12.6% Finland and Western Russia - expected ~25%
4.2% Scandinavia - expected ~12.5%

Conclusions
Due to my large amount of distant Colonial American ancestry, my overall British DNA is likely a challenge to specifically categorize. Focusing on my last six generations, these results were not consistent with my known ancestry. Failing to recognize half of my Finnish ancestry and significantly underestimating my Norwegian/Scandinavian ancestry does not inspire confidence. The site explained that German ancestry could be included in the Southeast England category, so that may explain why none of mine showed up elsewhere. Even with this caveat, however, this does not accurately portray my ancestral origins. 

I suspect that I am not the only one who will see over-inflated British percentages, but that remains to be seen when more results are delivered and reviews published.  

This test's launch has been highly anticipated and has definitely been getting a lot of buzz, but I think it is important to recognize that any time a company is claiming to provide very specific sub-regional percentages, we must take it with a big dose of salt. As always, I support and appreciate the efforts to advance our field. It has to start somewhere and we can't expect perfection. I look forward to improvements and the future of this exciting company. 

If you are interested in seeing what Living DNA will predict for you, you can order your kit here