Renee Williams is a contributing writer for Augusta Family Magazine. Below is part one of her article about the purchase of two DNA test kits online.

Over the holiday season, I was scrolling through social media and saw an ad for a popular company offering at home DNA test kits. I clicked on the link, read everything included and ordered two kits, one for me and one for my teenage son Dylan. It sounded like the great gift.

Not only would we have access to our ancestral DNA but we would also have reports with information on genetic predispositions to certain health conditions and a character traits analysis to detect sensitivity to bitter tastes, smells and how sensitive our hair was to getting lighter in the summer. “How fun!” I thought.

While I waited for the test kits to arrive, I was eager to start the process and see how excited I thought Dylan would be. I began wondering, “What is this fascinating thing called DNA, why are we so interested in knowing where we come from and what does the amazing ability to detect health issues mean for the future?”

DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.

From the moment of conception, DNA encodes our unique family and racial characteristics which includes skin color, height, shape of nose, eyes, hair color, weight tendencies and a multitude of other characteristics. Research suggests that not only is fetal growth and development scheduled in our DNA but so is our expected life cycle. Our intricately woven DNA can help determine when we will be born and how soon we can be expected to crawl, walk and talk. Although one’s environment and personal habits influence these developments, we are all born with a time schedule that is inherited from both parents. Many studies show that behavior patterns are also influenced by genes, including ‘the big five’ personality traits— extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience— as well as the way we laugh and walk. Genetics can also impact intelligence, when puberty will occur, how soon men will begin to grow facial hair or lose the hair on top, when gray hair will appear and when menstruation will likely occur in girls.

With all this newfound information and my growing excitement, our test kits finally arrived. I opened the boxes, pulled out the instructions and followed the steps provided. I downloaded the company’s app on my iPhone, registered our saliva collection tubes and uploaded a photo of the barcodes to the app so they knew whose tube was whose. We were to spit in the tubes provided, mail it back to the lab and then wait to discover our DNA as the lab analyzed the samples.

But before we provided our saliva samples, what I actually discovered was Dylan had absolutely no interest in taking the test.

I was simultaneously disheartened, disillusioned but full of respect for his decision as he explained his concerns over privacy, safety and his fear of what could be done with his genetic samples and the data collected-both legally and illegally. My son even disclosed that he frayed the cord to his Alexa that sits in his bedroom out of concern for his privacy. I had to laugh out loud because that was also a gift, one I had bought him.

After all, DNA makes you one of a kind, right?

Read part two of Renee’s story and her conclusions about DNA test kits in next week’s Augusta Family newsletter.

Photo by Martin Lopez, Pexels

Renee Williams, contributor of the Augusta Family Magazine.