This at-home DNA kit may make you rethink your family history

Banu Ibrahim
April 16, 2018

Story highlights

  • AncestryDNA is an at-home DNA testing kit that costs $99
  • The kit helps answer where you came from and can connect you to family members

At a certain point, your family tree, no matter how detailed it is, runs out of information. And when it does, it may have you wondering just where your ancestors came from and how they migrated over the centuries. If so, you're not alone. At-home DNA kits have been booming in popularity; last year, on just Black Friday and Cyber Monday, AncestryDNA sold over 1.5 million kits. Over the years, these testing packages have become more affordable and more accurate, so that just about everyone can see where exactly their ancestry lies.

AncestryDNA ($99; ancestry.com), one of the better-known kits on the market, rings in at a reasonable $99. Customers are sent a kit, which they mail back to Ancestry for analysis. They'll get an online breakdown as to what ethnicities make up their DNA as well as "gene matches" from others who have participated, who may be close or distant family members.

I recently tested out the AncestryDNA kit and was impressed with the packaging and ease of use. After ordering the kit, I was promptly mailed the tester, which includes a test tube to be filled with saliva, as well as directions for setting up an online account. From there, you mail back the test tube in a prepaid box and (not so patiently) wait for the results. Bonus: If you're impatient, like me, you can see just where your kit is in the processing, step by step, as pictured below. It can take a few weeks to analyze and process before you can view your results online — mine took about seven weeks to come in. This is where the real fun begins.

After your results are analyzed, AncestryDNA's online portal will show you the breakdown of your ethnicities by percentage and you can start to see how your family has migrated over time. Although my results didn't yield any real curveballs (both of my parents were born and raised in South India and could trace back their family tree quite a bit), it was interesting to see the other areas that played a role in my DNA, most intriguingly Melanesia, which includes Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

The feature that really had my family talking, however, was the DNA Matches, which compares your results against the company's database of other users. It showed that there were four users who were my fourth cousins or closer, as well as dozens of distant relatives, ranging from fifth to eighth cousins. It was a game for us to see how we could link up these strangers into our own family tree.

Of course, I'm not the only one who has been fascinated by what AncestryDNA's kit told me about my family tree. Plenty of others have had their own adventures after taking the test, stumbling upon new family members and new ideas as to where they really came from.

And that sounds pretty priceless to us.

Note: The prices above reflect the listed retailer's price on the date this article was published.