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Follow Friday - Genealogy DNA Testing with Family Tree DNA

I am no DNA expert. I don’t quite understand all the perimeters and my lack of knowledge makes me sceptical. However, I don’t think I am alone. I think like most I have a very loose understanding of DNA. However, where there are gaps in my knowledge creeps in scepticism. Will the results reveal anything about my genealogy and therefore providing little value in them for the heavy price tag?

My interest was renewed this week when watching Faces of America (see yesterday’s post- Genealogy DNA Testing – Is It Worth the Money?) but I can’t say my faith in these tests were restored. I’m still on the fence.

One such company I have been following is Family Tree DNA. Earlier in February, Family Tree DNA announced they would release a new test called the Family Finder Test. The Family Finder test is going to be able to trace all your ancestral lines in order to identify relationships up to five generations with confidence (their words not mine).

The Family Finder test will allow you to compare autosomal DNA between project members. While surname projects only seeks to document the Y chromosome DNA of males with a common surname, the Family Finder Project is focused on tracing the DNA of all descendents of a single ancestor or a single ancestral couple.

When talking with family historians who have taken a DNA test, I have come to realize that those that who have had the most success are those that use their DNA in conjunction with a surname project.

A Surname Project traces members of a family that share a common surname. Since surnames are passed down from father to son like the Y-chromosome, this test is for males taking Y-DNA tests. Females do not carry their father’s Y-DNA, so the tested individual must be a male that wants to check his direct paternal line.

The Family Finder test will be able to detect your near and distant cousins. If two people share identical segments of DNA then they may share a recent ancestor.

However, it appears to me that the Family Finder test must work in conjunction with the Y-DNA and the mtDNA test and be part of a surname project? Does that mean that you would have to purchase three tests or will they be combined into one test, one price? Still questions to be answered when the test is released later this month. I have also not seen a price on their website for this test yet. Therefore, we will have to discuss price later.

Family Tree is claiming the Family Finder test will extend the power of genetic genealogy to all of your ancestors. You can discover connections to descendants of all sixteen of your great-great grandparents. I’m still not sure this is going to advance my genealogy personally. I am fully aware of all of my great-great grandparents, I have managed thus far to trace back to my fifth great-grandparents on most of my family lines. I have also managed to grow my line wide, which exposes many distant cousins. So will the Family Finder test help me?

There is one situation that it could help me. My great grandfather migrated from Poland in 1905. In Poland, he left behind two sisters and a brother; I would like to uncover their descendants. But of course through these tests that is only going to happen if their descendants have also engaged in taking the Family Finder test and are in my surname project. So as you can see many variables are out of my control.

Yet Family Tree DNA says they place you in control but let’s be real, your test results are compared against their database. Is the price going to warrant sitting on a list in hopes a long lost cousin engages in the same. I want to believe in the tests I really do.

Should you win the lottery and get a match, email addresses are shared with permission and you will be able to share research easily with connected cousins.

If you haven’t noticed by now I am a glass half empty kinda of girl when it comes to DNA testing. A trait I inherited from my father, and I didn’t need a DNA test to tell me that. Therefore, the only recommendation I would make at this time is to investigate Family Tree DNA, and follow along. This website makes understanding DNA for us non-scientists a little bit easier, and then based on your specific genealogy circumstances and your pocketbook, only then can you determine whether the Family Finder test or any other DNA test is right for you.

If you have used Family Tree DNA or any other company please feel free to post your experience or guest posts are welcome on the subject. Your knowledge shared would be valuable to those of us still sitting on the fence.