Dubious results, emotional fallout, privacy concerns: inside the £7.7bn industry that promises to tell you who you really are
Last year, I did what 12 million people from all over the world have done and surrendered my spit to a home DNA-testing company. I hoped a MyHeritage test would bring me the peace I needed; my Irish mother had never been able to give me any information about my biological father. Raised by her and my white dad, I’d always longed for a country to attribute my blackness to, or for help answering the ubiquitous “Where are you from?” question. I’d spent years making up exotic-sounding combinations to justify my appearance (some days Jamaican-Spanish-Swedish; other days half Brazilian, or half Iranian). But, at 24, I was done with occupying a box of black ambiguity. Could I finally get a clear answer?
The results arrived by email on a summer’s day last year. I clicked on the “ethnicity estimate” link, which offers an analysis of DNA by country, my heart pounding as I scanned the digital map.