I’d liken my skin tone to the color of recently bleached teeth, if you can call that a color. I have the kind of skin that… incandesces. My bare chest blinds passing motorists and birds. People tell me “If you don’t like it, just tan.” Nope, doesn’t work like that for me. My sunburns turn an angry red for a few days, then flake off revealing fresh baby skin that is even whiter still. So I didn’t really expect any surprises when I spat into the vial and sent my DNA sample off to be tested.
I’d be lying though if I didn’t admit that there were always little “What If” bubbles flouncing around in my brain.
What if I was of Jewish, Asian, or African descent? Awesome. I’ll be able to get on a plane and visit my new family and there will be tears and good food and a lot of PowerPoint presentations on how exactly I’m related to them.
What if the stories about being Native American are true? So cool. I’ll be able to visit my tribe, and I will ask them to call me Standing Sun or Walks With Sunscreen and they will gently explain to me that Native Americans used words from their own language to name their children, not English words, and then remind me of my perfectly good name.
What if one of my relatives was hiding an adoption or one of the maternity nurses accidentally switched a baby? Then I can’t wait to cast actors in the unavoidable motion picture deal that follows. Emma Stone is a good crier so she will play the troubled nurse. Beau Bridges and Celia Weston will play my parents. Neil Patrick Harris will play me, obviously.
What was my point? Oh, yeah. I got the results back:
99% White. And the other 1% is from an area of the world from which all white people have genetic ties. So my lineage isn’t as diverse as I’d hoped. There are still some surprises in there.
That 2% Iberian Peninsula is intriguing: somewhere in my family’s past was a Spaniard or a Portuguesiard. (Yeah, that’s the Portuguese equivalent of Spaniard.) My lineage being primarily from western Europe (France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands) and not from the British Isles is surprising too. Although, I suppose it was the people of Western Europe that originally populated the islands.
Ancestry also offers this screen:
The “Ethnicity Estimate” is the link to the Ethnicity Map above.
The upper right shows that I now have 104 matches to people on Ancestry. That feature is frustrating to me because most of them haven’t shared their family trees, so our connection isn’t obvious. I took the test to verify my research. For instance, I have a 2x great-grandmother Fanny Romine, whose maiden name—I’m fairly certain— was Grace, but I have no proof. I was hoping to connect to her descendents to prove my theory. To find a connection, I’ll either have to research Grace descendents on my own or contact all 104 cousins and play some Fanny Grace Go Fish.
The bottom of the screen shows a Thomas Hurd and a Dorcas Morris box. My DNA test has proven that I am descended from them. When I click one of the boxes, I see other Ancestry members that share their DNA.
I have so much work to do with this data and as time goes on and the technology improves, I’ll be able to learn so much more about my relatives’ stories.