My DNA Journey – 23 and Me, GedMatch and a few others

The choice to do a DNA test is one that you should really investigate if you have concerns or questions. I most certainly did that before I started any of this. You should understand how it works and be prepared for whatever you might find in the results.

I probably wouldn’t have bothered with 23 and Me if the Adoption Disclosure case worker hadn’t recommended we do as many as we could. The 23 and Me user interface is not as friendly as either MyHeritage or Ancestry, but like the others it has it’s own data base so I did get new matches.

The DNA Ethnicity Estimate was similar:

23 and Me

The different companies would have different base samples, that likely explains the differences. I know my heritage quite well by now so I can see where there are omissions.

The one important thing I learned from 23 and Me was that everything I previously learned about my mother’s family was correct. More relatives from her paternal side were included in the matches and I suspect some from the maternal as well. Unfortunately, because I found the match part of the site much less user friendly, I don’t use 23 and Me often. The important thing though was that I was able to continue confirming the results of the work I had done to date. The relative I spoke about in my Ancestry post also chose to do a 23 and Me test along with her sister. They are numbers 3 and 4 in my matches. There is zero doubt we are family.

The ‘Traits’ reports on 23 and Me were about 50% accurate. As a note, I also did the Health components of MyHeritage, when you don’t know half of your medical history, you can’t help but wonder. However, I didn’t find it all that useful. I found Promethease much better for medical information, and it was free –

The one thing about Ancestry that put it above all the others with respect to matches was that it allowed me to easily see matches on my mothers side. That made doing research and tree building so much easier. All of these products have pluses and minuses, and I do think it is important to do all of  them when you are searching as we are. I am just glad I didn’t start with 23 and Me.

Another important thing is that these companies provide you with the ability to download your raw DNA data, which you should. The data is yours to do with whatever you want, should you ever delete you account you will still have the raw data.

I uploaded mine to GedMatch – – which is a wealth of information. I found matches there that I didn’t see anywhere else. It is great free spot to do research, but be sure to watch the ‘how to’.

I also uploaded to Geni – – as well as Family Tree DNA – – both are free for matches. Again, doing this confirmed for us that we had the right birth family’s on my mother’s side.  The same names appear on the match lists of so many sites, there is no way they are all wrong.

I can’t tell you how much I wish that one of the half-siblings or their children would do a test. Keep hoping!

Interesting story to share, I worked this week with someone I hadn’t met before and we started talking about adoption and DNA. To my surprise she had her own adoption story. She was from Pictou (coincidentally so is my mother) and was given up for adoption in Halifax. Her mother had been in Ontario and had come back to Halifax just for that purpose. She was adopted by a loving family in another province at about 6 months of age. Adopters are able to legally change the adoptees name, which her birth family did and a new birth certificate was issued in the new province. That new province does not currently have closed adoption records but at the time she found out her details it did, as does Nova Scotia.  Eventually she was able to get her information from both provinces and found out she had half siblings. She reached out and one of them responded. They met and things went well. Then another of the half siblings found out about the meeting and decided she didn’t believe her. The half sibling attempted to get a copy of her birth certificate, which of course she couldn’t. Anyway, she no longer has contact with these half-siblings and has warned them accordingly about trying to get personal and private information. She does keep in touch with an older brother (also given up for adoption) and an Aunt who gave her pictures, stories and a history, which was all she ever wanted to begin with.

These stories make me so angry and in the age of DNA are so unnecessary.  If there’s doubt, do a test. DNA does not lie. People can be related and never interact, happens every day, you don’t need to be friends.  All most adoptees want is a story, a history, something that tells them who they are. Why should anyone have the right to deny them that? Ultimately not all adoption stories will have a happy ending, I would venture a guess to say most probably don’t.

If someone ever knocks on your door, have empathy. These people have been denied their birth identity, blood family, medical and family history and so much more. You don’t have to be friends or even acquaintances, but you are blood family. Nothing will change that.

I’ve now moved on to Tree Building, ancestry mapping and picture searching. It’s different level of challenging that’s for sure!

For more information about DNA tests and testing check out –


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