My Ethnicity Revealed (sort of)

At the Adoptee Rights sign-making party in Louisville, KY 

So after many hours of sifting through Population Finder at Family Tree DNA, I do have a lot more information about my ethnic background than I ever had before. To give you a little background, Population Finder uses information from the database at Stanford University (Human Genome Project)  using DNA to map out a person's ancestry.  It does not tell you specific countries, but only regions.

Here is a quote from President Clinton about the Human Genome Project:

At the June 2000 White House press conference, President Clinton compared the feat of mapping and sequencing the human genome to the mapping of the Northwest Passage by early-nineteenth century explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark:
"Nearly two centuries ago, in this room, on this floor, Thomas Jefferson and a trusted aide spread out a magnificent map, a map Jefferson had long prayed he would get to see in his lifetime. The aide was Meriwether Lewis and the map was the product of his courageous expedition across the American frontier, all the way to the Pacific. It was a map that defined the contours and forever expanded the frontiers of our continent and our imagination.

Today the world is joining us here in the East Room to behold the map of even greater significance. We are here to celebrate the completion of the first survey of the entire human genome. Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind."
My first inkling that my results were in, was an email from my (predicted) 3rd cousin's husband asking me for information.

So I logged into FTDNA and sure enough, my results were complete -- earlier than projected (by 13 days).  My wait time was almost exactly two months -- not bad and a nice pleasant surprise for me to make my day!

I was ecstatic and started yelling for my son, Matt ... . .who has 25% of my mystery DNA.

Newly Hispanic and Middle Eastern Jewish

This is when I had to break the surprising news to him (drum roll) . . . 

He is Hispanic (Native American - Central American)


Middle Eastern (Jewish)


He just looked at me with this blank expression and said, "So I'm Hispanic?" 

"Yes . . . and Middle Eastern (Jewish)"

Dead Silence.

The pie chart looks like this:

The Northeast European portion was not a surprise as I know that my birth mother's background is German and Scottish.  Why Finish and Russian are included in part (not shown) of my result is a mystery to me but I think it's one of the limitations of the database since it can only give you regions -- not specific countries.

I called my mother first (my husband was sick in bed and wasn't in the mood to hear about my latest discoveries). She was surprised by the results and still adamently insists I look Spanish (from Spain) as she has for 40 years.  

I called up my friend Vaseem who reminded me that from the first moment he met me, he was convinced I was Middle Eastern -- Syrian to be exact.  He said "he knows Syrian bone structure and I have it".   I'm still scratching my head on that one.

For those of you who may recall, Adoptee Steve Jobs' birth father is Syrian.  I've always secretly thought Steve Jobs was hot so now I can blame it on:

Genetic Sexual Attraction

For those of you who don't know what this is, look it up. It's when blood relatives are sexually attracted to each other.  I know it's gross but it's true (a little adoptee humor at 5:00 a.m. never hurt).

This Middle Eastern thing might explain why Middle Eastern guys have always hit on me (another mystery solved by DNA).

What comes as the biggest surprise for me is that I have no proof that I am Italian -- the ethnic group I psychologically most identified with.  These results also disprove what my adoption paperwork says about my birth father (surprise, surprise).  For those who are curious, I will quote what the paperwork said:

"a Citizen of Peru, and thought to be Italian born"

In other words, "we don't know where the hell you came from but this sounds good".


I guess it's possible he was a Citizen of Peru but considering Peru is in South America and there is no evidence that my people are from South America or Italy, I'm thinking it was a big fat lie.  I've always figured it was, but I just have more proof now.

One little side note on Jewish descent:  I have had a few people tell me in my lifetime I look Jewish.  But not as many who have told me I look Italian, Greek, and Hispanic.  The Jewish Genome is over-represented in the database because so many Jewish people have tested and are looking for survivors/relatives of the Holocaust.  I'm not sure yet what that means for my percentage.

So there you have it . . . .a mystery (partially) solved which leads to many more mysteries yet to be solved.

And I think I need more than 4 hours of sleep to continue on this journey . . . .so back to bed.


  1. congrats on finding a bit more of your history =) can you post a link to the dnafinder you used? thanks

    1. Here is the link for the test:

      I also tested with 23 & me but do not have my results yet:

      This is the most affordable option at 99 bucks!

  2. Yes I can (sleep is overrated). It is Family Tree DNA's Family FInder using autosomal DNA. Population Finder is included in the Family Finder. Autosomal DNA is a combination of both your mother and father's DNA. For more information about specific testing for your specific situation go to my DNA page and go to Richard Hill's DNA Testing Advisor. He advised me on which tests to take.

  3. Super interesting! Laura Reilly

  4. Ditto on the congratulations.

    "I've always secretly thought Steve Jobs was hot so now I can blame it on:

    Genetic Sexual Attraction"


  5. What Latin American country are you or your family from?

  6. Your Jewish explains because many Jews from Spain (Sephardic Jews) were forced to convert to Catholicism and abandon their culture during the Spanish Inquisition Or your German ancestors might have been Ashkenazi Jews too.

  7. Dear Israeli, thank you for the information. I have been in contact with a cousin who advised me about the Sephardic Jewish connection. I'm still trying to figure out the mystery of my father's people, but they appear to have gone to Nuevo Leon, Mexico from Spain and migrated into Texas.

    The DNA breakdown does not list Ashkenazi Jews which I understand come from Eastern Europe, but it is possible, but I'm leaning toward the Sephardic at this point since I found cousin who knew the background.


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