Learning about ancestry from DNA | 23andMe

I believe in open adoption.

I believe in open adoption for many reasons. One of the key reasons is because I know there is within each of us a desire to know more about where we came from. We want to know our roots, what we’ve inherited, traits that were passed down to us, who we look like and where our ancestors come from.

For my 3 boys, answers to these questions can be difficult especially on their birth fathers’ side–we don’t have a ton of contact with one right now (his choice, hoping that changes this fall), another doesn’t know where his ancestors are from and another was adopted internationally as a little boy.

When the opportunity arose for me to work with 23andMe on a DNA project for my oldest, I jumped on it. Learning more about what areas of the world my boys have ties to has been something that’s been on my bucket list for years (item #2).

DNA Testing

About 23andMe was named Times magazine “Invention of the Year” in 2008. Let me tell you why I am naming it Something-Everyone-Should-Do in 2013.


How does it work?

They send you a kit in the mail with really specific, easy directions (with pictures for people like me who have an aversion to reading instructions). Inside the kit is a little vile. The person participating in the DNA project spits into this vial. In our case, we had our 6 year old do it. And friends… it’s kind of A LOT of spit for a 6 year old so you will want to make sure your kids are old enough and you are having a patient parenting moment. 6 years old is probably as young as I would go.

You then seal up the vile and send it back. In about 6 weeks, you have access to over 240 health reports, over a quarter million members (23andMe is the largest DNA-based ancestry service worldwide) with whom they tell you who you have DNA in common with, information about the geographical areas your ancestors came from and much more.


How much does it cost?

When 23andMe was founded, the price of the personal genetic service was $1,000 and over time they have been able to reduce it to $99, making it a widely available information tool.

And if you check out 23andMe on Facebook, you can find information on their promotions as well.


What information does it give you?

Without sharing all the personal details about my son’s DNA, let’s just say I was blown away by the information it provided.

Here are some screen shots of the menu bar that you have access to once your test results are posted…

What results do I get with 23andMe?

Having some more health info will be hugely beneficial to him as he grows, but I’ve spent the most time looking at where his ancestors are from. We know a ton about his birth mother’s side but it was so cool to learn about his birth father’s side and to share that info with him. We really had no idea.

And then there’s the connection aspect…

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As of right now, they’ve located 2 2nd and 3rd cousins of my son. As well as 154 4th cousins and 764 distant cousins. There are features that enable you to send a message to these individuals and connect. How powerful would this be if you part of a closed adoption?

We also learned that our cute little guy is distantly related to famous folks like Chris Rock, Jimmy Buffet, Thomas Jefferson, Genghis Khan, Leo Tolstoy, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mario Batali, Matt Lauer, Stephen Colbert and Yo-Yo Ma to name a few. I mean …how cool is that? Especially for someone who was adopted!

I am really giddy about this service. In fact, at a family dinner earlier this month, we pulled up the results on the TV and discussed them as a family. There is so much information available …although I will admit that I don’t understand it all yet. I’ll be spending some time watching 23andMe’s videos explaining how understand some of the results and what they mean.

They also have some inspiring stories from other clients. I loved this one about Muhammad Ali.

I hope you will find this an inspirations tool for your family. I hope it becomes a helpful tool in connecting biological families. I want to hear about your results when you do!



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


  1. ~n~ says

    Thank you for this! Our little one is well under 6, so this won’t be something we will be doing soon….but it is something we will do. We have no contact with the birthmother or father. We have some info from the birthmother’s side, but that is it. Thank you for making me aware of this!

  2. Sarah says

    This has been in the news lately and I wondered your thoughts on it. Cool to hear that your family has already tried it out.

  3. Tara says

    This is so cool! My husband is adopted, and when he recently looked into finding his birth mother, the agency through which he was adopted wanted about $900! Definitely not in our budget right now, but I’m thinking he would love to do something like this!