This is an interesting article that discusses how one Chinese adoptee, Jenna Cook, who was born and abandoned in China and subsequently adopted by an American couple, has been trying to find her birth parents in China using media notices and DNA. This story is also relevant for many Australians who were adopted from other countries and I think we will be seeing more use of DNA testing for these kinds of adoption cases.
Here is a great outcome for the tenacious efforts of Kerri Favarato who worked so hard at locating her biological father. Kerri successfully utilised the technique of using ‘mirror trees’ on Ancestry.com to narrow down her paternal lineage.
It is most unfortunate to read a review of Family Tree DNA by a popular young American genealogy blogger, Heather Collins, that is full of misunderstandings about how to use DNA and how to use Family Tree DNA itself. The review criticises the absence of features that are actually available; for example, it is possible to download a spreadsheet of all segments from the chromosome browser. The reviewer criticises the functionality of the chromosome browser as a tool, but does not understand how to use it. It would seem that Heather also has very little understanding of the value of Y-DNA and mtDNA testing as important specialised tests, which she incorrectly suggests are ‘niche’, ‘nostalgic’ and ‘from back in the day when these tests were all the rage’. The comments on the admixture also show a considerable lack of understanding about the limitations of ethnicity results at any of the testing companies. Finally, the comment about using AncestryDNA simply because of the larger database ignores the motivations of the people who have tested with each of those two companies: quantity does not equate with quality.
Whilst I think that DNA has been a wonderful catalyst for encouraging younger people to become actively engaged in genealogy and family history, this kind of misinformation spread by a popular young blogger is very disappointing.
There is also a sale on at My Heritage, with their autosomal test available for US$69. However, please note that the My Heritage DNA database is still very small and I would not recommend it for first time test takers. I would suggest you test first with Family Tree DNA or AncestryDNA and then transfer your results over to My Heritage.
Garrett Hellenthal, statistical geneticist at the Genetic Institute, University College London, gave a very interesting talk at the recent Who Do You Think You Are convention in England on the science of how DNA companies predict ethnicity. Given that ethnicity is the main reason why the majority of clients get their DNA tested at AncestryDNA, it is a very good overview of just how the different DNA testing companies arrive at their ethnicity conclusions.
Gedmatch is now accepting links to WikiTree, which shows up in the new Ged/Wiki column. This is a welcome alternative to uploading a gedcom, which needs to be deleted and reuploaded each time changes are made to the gedcom, because it allows the tree to be continuously updated in the WikiTree community and always the latest version will be available in the link. To learn more about this new feature click here.
A new tool for phasing created by Philip Gammon called Match Maker Breaker. Roberta Estes has written up a description on how to use the tool. This is an advanced tool for helping to eliminate false matches that are IBS. It requires a fresh cuppa and a quiet zone to concentrate