Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Hidden Emotional Side of Genealogical DNA Testing
This rather long newspaper article from the Deseret News highlights a "hidden" concern that is the byproduct of the current push for general DNA testing for genealogical research. The article points out that the results from a series of DNA tests may not always be positive and may involve some serious family issues and cause unintended disruption.

Ever since genealogically oriented DNA tests became generally available, I have been hearing stories of the sometimes unpleasantly surprising results of the tests. DNA tests work best in determining close relatives: siblings, parents and so forth. The generally vague ethnicity reports are interesting but rarely disturbing or surprising. But as the "Baby Switch" story above illustrates, not all the results can be easily assimilated into our traditional world view.

My own DNA test results have been mildly interesting but not yet helpful in my genealogical research. So far, I have 432 matches from and 159 DNA matches from Two of DNA matches are close relatives that I recognize. Some of the other matches have recognizable surnames, although I have yet to see anyone I have met or know personally. This compares to over 100,000 Smart Matches on and thousands of family tree matches. In addition, on the Family Tree, I can already see thousands of my deceased close relatives. I am not quite sure what to do with the living ones.

So far, I do have one result from a sibling and that probably puts to rest any fears I may have had of being switched at birth or adopted, but there are possibly still some surprises out there.

The real question is what am I supposed to do with the results from my DNA tests? I am not inclined to start contacting all the thousands of relatives listed by just these two programs. To the extent that I can determine, none of these "DNA relatives" have extensively documented family trees. In fact, the family trees I have available to view, do not show that any of these people so far have added sources or tried to documents their online family trees. In fact, some of the genealogical information I have seen from the family trees of the matches is totally inaccurate. At best, the information I have received is an incentive to me to correct the information in my portion of the Family Tree.


  1. What you want to do next, James, is to build a chromosome map, i.e., map the segments of your DNA to the ancestors who you got them from. Once you've done that, then anyone who matches you on the same segment will come from that ancestral line, helping you to find their place in your family Tree. Read Jim Bartlett's and check out Kitty Cooper's tools and blog posts.

    1. Thanks, that helps me get oriented to what I can do.