To DNA or Not to DNA?

I’ve gotten more and more into family history over the past several years. Not my own, typically. Most of that has already been done by my extended family on all sides. (Latter-day Saints are pretty gung-ho about family history, and I come from “pioneer stock” on both my mom and dad’s sides. Finding actual new ancestors on those lines is like playing a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.)

No, I’m much more interested in Denisa’s side of the family. She’s a convert, and so it’s all fresh snow as far as they eye can see. (Or to extend the metaphor from earlier, I’m the only hippo in a sea full of marbles.)

Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. The Slovak and Czech church record books have mostly been digitized, but they’re spread all over creation, and they’re written in Latin, German, Slovak, Czech, and Hungarian. Often they’ll switch languages in the middle of a page, even. And each language handles names differently. So what’s Georg in one is Gjgj in another. Last names are even more complicated. But that’s part of why I like it so much. It’s a real challenge, and a lot of fun to do research in,

But I digress.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a DNA test done, and I wondered if any of you people out there have done it (or consciously *not* done it). Up to now, I’ve held off out of caution. Once your DNA is sent off to a company, what sort of control do you have over what’s done with it? Can it be sent to law enforcement? Can they sell it to other companies? What do those other companies do with it? I know the laws aren’t exactly iron clad in this area right now, so part of me wonders if I shouldn’t wait until that uncertainty is smoothed out.

But on the other hand, a big part of me then wonders why in the world I should care about all that. If someone wanted access to my DNA, it wouldn’t be hard to get. All they’re taking is some spit. I’ve got plenty of that, and it’s not like I guard it like Fort Knox. If a shady government organization wanted to get their paws on some Bryce spit, I’m fairly confident they could do it without even needing to resort to any Mission Impossible-style antics.

And yet then there’s the question of whether I’m liable for what I discover. If I find out I’m susceptible to a certain type of disease, would my insurance company potentially deny coverage to me if it turns out I could have done something to be better prepared to handle that disease? I have no idea.

All that uncertainty brings me back to the central question of why I’d want a DNA test done in the first place. Is it basically just a “I wonder” itch I want scratched? What would I actually do with it once I had the results?

That’s where all of you people come in. Anyone want to volunteer their experience with DNA testing if they’ve done it? Were you happy with the process, or do you regret it? I’d like some feedback from people I actually know, instead of the faceless internet horde.

Please share!


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3 thoughts on “To DNA or Not to DNA?”

  1. I got mine done some time ago and it has been fun. At the time I thought, “OK is that all there is?” But, as time goes on they have connected me to relatives I’d lost contact plus people I knew but didn’t know we were cousins. I had the test because it was for medical reasons but it really has been much more. It turns out that I don’t carry genes for major illnesses.

  2. I can talk on this topic for way too long 😉


    Ancestry and 23andMe don’t allow law enforcement to access their data [except with a court order/warrant]. Law enforcement use of the other consumer DNA databases has been split fairly equally between finding criminal offenders and finding identities for Jane/John Does ~ I know I am personally much more comfortable with the Doe identifying than the offenders use, as the law hasn’t really caught up to the technology yet and I’d prefer more judicial oversight of the process ~ have it treated like any other search that needs court/a judge’s prior approval.

    23andMe is the only company doing health-related results, and you pay extra for them.

    I’m happy with the results I’ve gotten, but then ~ I’m a real genealogy geek 😉

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