DNA Testing for Everyday People
It’s that part of the crime show you’ve waited all hour to see. That moment when the police officer or CSI tells the perp, “open up” as he or she then takes a cotton swab and takes a sample of the DNA from inside the perp’s cheek. You smile with satisfaction because you know the DNA will prove the perp did it.
Ah, DNA – it’s making crime shows much more riveting now. How did Perry Mason ever win a case without it?
Of course, DNA isn’t just for crime shows anymore. Now the average Joe and Jane can order DNA home kits, open up and swab their own DNA cells to be analyzed. Why would someone go to the expense of having their own DNA analyzed?
Today many men are having their DNA tested to prove paternity, that is, whether or not they are the father of a particular child. This is often used in child custody cases, where the father believes himself to be the father and wants visitation rights. To be legally admissible in court, however, the test must be performed by a certified testing facility, accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).
While DNA testing for paternity is a simple test, what isn’t simple are the ramifications of such testing, particularly for a child who is being raised by, and considers another man “father.” Before undertaking such tests, a man should consider how a determination of paternity or exclusion will affect himself and the child.
DNA testing is also being used to prove relationships in immigration cases. That’s because U.S. citizens can petition that spouses, parents, children and siblings be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. Green card holders are also allowed to do the same for spouses and unmarried children. Normally the applicants use birth certificates, marriage documents, and medical and school records to provide that proof of relationship. However, if these documents are missing, or fraud is suspected, the Citizenship and Immigration Services may require a DNA test. Again, one should make sure that the testing facility is accredited by the AABB.
Many people have turned to DNA tests to determine from where their ancestors originated. Two types of DNA testing are Y chromosome testing (Y-DNA) and mitochondrial DNA testing. The Y –DNA tests look at paternal lineage while the mitochondrial DNA looks at maternal lineage.
Such tests can be used to determine such things as: which present-day African country you share your ancestry; which European maternal clan you share ancestry; percentage of Native American ancestry. These tests can be performed using at-home DNA kits.
Again, before undertaking any DNA testing be sure you weigh any ramifications of the test results.