I’m always asked by friends and family what DNA testing company to use. There are many sites with their own recommendations but predominately they are US based sites, so he’s one from an Australian Adoptee Genetic Genealogist’s point of view in order of preference:
- AncestryDNA – I’ve been using Ancestry.com to trace my adopted family’s ancestry and everyone I know uses Ancestry.com. So when I saw posts fly past my Facebook wall with stories of adoptees finding family using AncestryDNA, I was 100% on board and ordered my kit immediately. The DNA tests had only just become available in Australia so I was an early adopter, pun intended.
Ancestry as well as all the DNA testing companies listed below offer Autosomal DNA tests. Autosomal DNA tests can confirm relationships between other members who have submitted their DNA. This test can tell parent/child relationships and up to second cousin level with a great deal of accuracy.Since first submitting my DNA to Ancestry, they have introduced some very cool features, at least I think they are cool. They are:
- Shared Ancestor Hints – show you how you’re related to cousins who have also submitted their DNA and who has an extensive family tree that include your most recent common ancestors – I love this feature.
- Genetic Community – show you where many of your cousins originate from because they descend from a population of common ancestors.
- DNA Circles – if you and other cousins have the same ancestor in your family trees the circles will identify the common ancestor.
- FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA)– This site has the 2nd largest database. What FTDNA does offer over AncestryDNA is additional testing other than Autosomal DNA tests, they include:
- Mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA) – provides information about the direct female ancestral line as it preserves information about our female ancestors that may be lost from the records because of the way surnames are often passed down.
- Y chromosome testing (yDNA) can be used to explore ancestry in the direct male line. This test can only be done on males because only they have a Y chromosome.
The best feature FTDNA offer is you can upload your DNA results from Ancestry, 23&me to FTDNA and just recently from National Geographic where you will see any relatives who have either uploaded their results or taken the FTDNA test. I had a 3rd cousin pop up on this site. Other features I found helpful during my 18 months of trying to find common cousins include the:
- Chromosome browser – allows you to compare your matching DNA segments with your genetic matches
- In common with – this tool was far better than Ancestry’s cousin matching.
- 23andMe – after almost 18 months I decided to take the plunge and order a kit. 23&me has predominantly Americans on the database but all the adoption groups suggested to test with all three major companies. 23&me’s ethnicity report is more extensive than Ancestry and it tells if you have Neanderthal DNA, which all the research suggests everyone who lives out of Africa probably does, at least <1%. Had I not had my 1st cousin match using AncestryDNA, I may have cracked the mystery with the 2nd cousin match I had on 23andMe. So if you’re adopted do this test too so you cover all bases.
- Gedmatch – provides DNA and genealogical analysis tools for amateur and professional researchers and genealogists. Most tools are free, but they do provide some premium tools for an small cost.
Gedmatch doesn’t provide the kits for testing your DNA but it does allow you to upload your DNA results from all of the above recommended sites and also MyHeritage. The beauty of Gedmatch is you can do far more analysis on your DNA. Using Gedmatch will require a bit of a learning curve but nothing you won’t handle if you’ve managed to upload your results in the first place.