Many of you have already heard the story of our youngest child, Zack, who was adopted from Russia and shared a last name with me. His adoption story is truly miraculous and many within the family have wondered if he could really be related to my long-lost great, great-uncle. When I was in Chicago with Aunt Sandra last month, some of the women that we had dinner with one evening were talking about the genetic ancestry testing that they had completed. That got Aunt Sandra and I talking and with her financial backing, I ordered an ancestry composition test from 23andme.
A few weeks ago, the kit arrived and after having Zack fill up a test tube with his spit, I sent it off and waited for the results. They said it would be a 6-week wait but in under two weeks, the results arrived. And what did it show?
Eastern Europe, represented by people of Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Hungary, is bordered on the east by the Ural Mountains. Although there are no such geographic borders to the west, eastern Europe has been distinct from European countries to the west in terms of cultural and linguistic affiliations.*
Much of Europe was buried under miles of ice ten thousand years ago. As the glaciers receded over millennia, Neolithic farmers from the Near East joined Paleolithic hunter-gatherers to settle Europe.
So again, this didn’t really help me figure out if we were long-lost relatives.
The 23 and me reports also included things like 22 Trait reports.
- Zack is 98% likely to have lighter eyes (he does)
- Zack is 96% likely to have lighter skin (he does, for sure!)
- Zack is 87% likely to have light hair (he does)
- Zack is 72% likely to have straight or wavy hair (I’m not sure if you’d consider Zack’s hair wavy or curly….there’s a 16% chance he’d have big curls so he might fall in that category if you categorize it more curly than wavy.)
- Zack is 81% likely to have no hair loss before the age of 40 years
- Zack is 84% likely to have no bald spot
The report also gave us information such as:
- Zack, is unlikely to flush after drinking alcohol. The alcohol flush reaction is characterized by redness or flushing of the face or neck after consuming alcohol. You likely can break down alcohol normally.
- Zack is less likely to be a deep sleeper. Zack, people with your genetic result tend to have typical sleep depth.
- Zack is unlikely to be a sprinter. Zack, your fast-twitch muscle fibers likely do not have the alpha-actinin-3 protein. Endurance athletes tend to have more slow-twitch muscle, while sprinters tend to have more fast-twitch muscle. Some of the variation in fast-twitch muscle depends on a protein called alpha-actinin-3.
- Zack is likely to exhibit typical or less movement during sleep. Zack, people with your genetic result tend to have about 10 limb movements per hour of sleep.
- Zack is likely lactose intolerant. Zack, you likely do not produce the lactase enzyme.
Finally, 23andMe did not detect any variants for carrier status of 39 different gene disorders, such as autosomal recessive polycycstic kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, glycogen storage disease, phenylketonuria and related disorders or sickle-cell anemia.
Although there was a ton of information, there was nothing really earth-shattering or unexpected in the reports. It did NOT help to solve the question of whether Zack and I are actually related by a common ancestor three generations back. But Zack can bask in the knowledge that he is at least 80% Russian with some other European countries thrown in just for fun.
Thanks for trying Aunt Sandra!