Ancestry.com DNA tests come with unexpected results

Recently, I stumbled upon this interesting article from Ancestry.com about how they are aggregating the data they have collected from our DNA tests and it got me thinking about ‘parallax‘ or expectations being different from reality…

What 770,000 Tubes of Saliva Reveal About America

What does the word family mean to you? What makes someone family? Do your DNA and blood make you family. Well, no, obviously. Sometimes friends are more family than our family. Adoption changes that DNA connection to a family as well. So what about DNA tests is so fascinating to us and affirming?? More importantly, what does it really reveal about us as people, as a society, a culture or a tribe?

For me personally, my last name of McKay is clearly Irish. Or is it? Every time I’ve ever met a Scotsman, they have told me I’m spelling and pronouncing my surname incorrectly. My response is always “then take better records because my sister cannot find that link in our ancestry!”

What about how I identify myself? Well, I always say that I’m Welsh. And I’m not lying. I’m more Welsh than anything because my maternal Grandfather was born there. Yet, in a patriarchal society like ours, I’m typically described as Irish. Then there is the fact that my maternal Grandmother’s family hails from England. They came over on the second boat after the Mayflower, apparently. So does that make me even more American? Irish-American? Welsh-American? American-English? Ah, ancestry! Where does it end?

Shop Custom Wine Labels

Welsh Flag and ancestry
Ancestry.com DNA tests can come with unexpected results

Shop Custom Wine Labels
My eldest sister has been tracing our ancestry for the last few decades and I’ve followed along because I do find stories and history fascinating and intriguing. It’s great to know where a weird chin or a single dimple comes from and it is also really cool to meet distant relatives with the same sense of humor or mannerisms. I have a photo of myself with 3 of my second cousins, all living on 3 different continents and we are all the exact same amount overweight. Yet, I barely look like my own siblings. My Mom looks more like two of her cousins than she does her own sister as well.  So, getting DNA tests was of interest to me.

With the Ancestry DNA results, it was fairly interesting to learn that we have ‘trace’ DNA from Finland (our little brother is fascinated with Finland), the Middle East (hello, Iraq!), Spanish and a tiny bit of European Jewish.

So-many-questions. Did we have a relative that was in the Crusades? The Spice Trade?

Map of Ancestry.com DNA tests for a Welsh and Irish American living in NY

Recently, my genealogist sister took advantage of the Ancestry.com DNA tests and it came back with very unexpected results that shocked our immediate and extended family.

Ancestry.com unexpected DNA test results

Our DNA tests revealed a FIRST cousin!

WHAT????? A FIRST cousin? Really? And this unknown first cousin is in the system?? Wait, they are also using Ancestry.com? Unbelievable.

Now, what to do? Does my sister tell anyone? Does the rest of the family know?

Quickly her brain does the math and figures out where this first cousin belongs on the family tree. It wasn’t that hard to jump to the right conclusion. However, the knowledge complicates things for everyone that the new first cousin is even more related to…. our cousins have a new sibling!

Map of Ancestry.com DNA tests for a Welsh and Irish American living in NY

So, be careful what you wish for and the rabbit hole it may lead you down.

Did this particular revelation cause a ruckus?

Not really.

My affected cousins are all adults with their own families and this new first cousin was just happy to fill in the blanks on who his father was. Everyone exchanged emails and phone numbers and got back to their lives.

So what does it mean that he is ‘family’? And what about the very little known tidbit that one of his new siblings isn’t technically his sibling by blood? Well, we grew up with her as our cousin and not him… so we as an extended family are keeping it that way. Just because she isn’t blood by our paternal side, doesn’t mean she isn’t still our ‘cousin’. Just because he is blood on the paternal side doesn’t mean he just jumps right into the cousin role.

What do you think? Have you had this done and received any interesting or disturbing information? Comment below and let us know.

Are you interested in more about the Ancestry scientist’s results that I mentioned above?

Here is the article:

What do you do with 770,000 tubes of saliva collected from AncestryDNA customers?

Ancestry scientists have an unusual answer: Create a ground-breaking map of America’s history-based diversity using the genetic data from the analysis of the samples.

This unique map shows this country’s great migrations, the echoes of our pioneer ancestors in our genes today.

3 thoughts on “Ancestry.com DNA tests come with unexpected results”

  1. Didn’t know you blogged about this!? Would love to have more of our family do DNA tests [get better hits on ancestor relations], especially the guys since that is our only ‘real’ way of finding out where the McKay’s come from [there are special tests for the patriarchal line, as well as ones for matriarchal line]. Mom’s maternal grandmother is of Irish descent, so there’s more Irish for you 🙂 I always say I’m American of Welsh, Irish, Scottish and English descent [since most of the family has been here for 150+ years] 😉

join the conversation...