Monday, March 23, 2009

Media alert: Seeking DONOR OFFSPRING for new documentary

[Note from Lindsay: This is open to any adult donor offspring, regardless of where you live!]



How do you define identity?  What role, if any, has genetics played in shaping the person you are today?

We’re SEEKING DONOR OFFSPRING to participate in an international high end documentary series on Assisted Reproductive Technology and the link between biological and genetic history and identity.  What makes this documentary series unique is that it is told through the eyes of the offspring conceived through ART; your EYES.

We want to hear your stories; your perspectives; your insights into the impact of the technology that helped bring you into this world and your vision for the future.


Please allow us to introduce ourselves:


Tammi Michelle Faraday is a Television, Feature Film & Documentary Producer, Investigative journalist, Human Rights Lobbyist, Television Presenter, Broadcaster, and one time Senior Associate of an international law firm. 


Tammi recently returned to Australia after being based in London for two years working as a producer on critically acclaimed and award winning feature films and feature length documentaries for the BBC (UK), WGBH (United States), SBS (Australia) and Channel 2 (Israel). These include: "The Insurgency” (a BBC/WGBH feature length documentary about the Iraqi insurgency)“The Nuclear Wal-Mart" (a BBC Panorama investigation about the private international nuclear network); “Yitzchak Rabin - Case Unclosed" (a groundbreaking documentary on the late Prime Minister of Israel); “Rape on Trial" (a BBC Panorama investigation about rape and the criminal justice system in the UK) and the multi award winning feature film in Australia, “Wil".

In 2008 Tammi launched her international film production, media and communications company - Juggernaut Media Management.

Ros Tatarka is an established producer with an extensive track record primarily in television production.   In her early career Ros worked on some of Australia’s most iconic television dramas including Prisoner, Neighbours and A Country Practice.  She later went on to Associate Produce the mini-series Snowy and the first nine telemovies of the successful Halifaxfpfranchise.  As Producer her credits include the first series of Something In the Air, and the telemovie and first series of Good Guys Bad Guys, for which she won an AFI Award.


Ros was most recently engaged as the General Manager, Industry Development and Investment at the State Government Agency, Film Victoria.  In this role, Ros headed up the business unit responsible for stimulating and supporting growth and excellence in the Victorian screen industry. 


In 2008 Ros returned to the independent sector and through her production company, CreatEve Pty Ltd, is developing a slate of projects including feature film, television drama, documentary and new media.

For further information please contact Tammi Faraday on + 61 (0)401 952 962

or Ros Tatarka on either +61 (0)411 567 556 or

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Genetic genealogy and a glimmer of hope for offspring

In my genealogy class, one of our assignments is to create two brochures on genealogy topics of our choice to teach the class about these resources.  The two topics I chose were Ellis Island (because my great-grandparents arrived there in 1909 and 1912) and Genetic Genealogy (because of course I'm a genetics nerd, so I had to throw a plug to my favorite subject!).  

So anyways, this afternoon I've been working on the Genetic Genealogy brochure and I thought that in the past there's been a bit of discussion about the pros and cons of genealogical DNA tests for donor conceived adults, but I have not discussed the topic in-depth, until now!

Genealogical DNA tests provide unique insight into an individual's recent ancestors as well as historical origins.  These tests do not give medical information.  They are meant to find ancestral links to living relatives.  There are two main types of genealogical DNA tests: Y-STR tests and mtDNA tests.  Y-STR tests trace the paternal lineage, while mtDNA tests trace maternal line

Therefore, Y-STR tests are ideal for MALE donor offspring to gain information about their biological father's heritage, and even find possible surnames.  If anything, a male offspring may be able to connect with genetic cousins, even if he is unable to trace his father.

Females, however, are up a creek without a paddle in terms of tracing their paternal side without a male paternal relative - if you have a brother who's from the same donor that's the only way.  Sorry gals........

So back to Y-STR tests...

Most testing companies offer several different levels of tests, based on how many STR markers they look at: 12, 25, 37, and 67.  The 12-marker test will not offer much information at all, other than possibly what ethnicity you might be.  The 25 and/or 37-marker test (depending on the company) is the best bet, because it gives enough information to find a potential surname and match to other relatives in the database, but it leaves room for a larger array of potential.  Since we are starting with a blank slate in terms of knowledge of paternity, the 67-marker test may be too confined to actually make a match.  

For more information about what STRs are, and how they trace your ancestry, please refer to my post "Whatcha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk in you...DNA?" for a more in-depth explanation.

There are some problems with using this type of test to determine paternity, or even surnames.  Because of secret adoptions (or even donor conception!), infidelity, and random mutations in the past, it's possible that the surname that the test tells you is your ancestral surname, may not be the surname of your biological father.  

So, genetic genealogy tests are a fantastic resource for male offspring, but must be used with caution.  Take the results with a grain of salt.  If anything, think of it as a way to learn about your biological father's ancestors and his history - even if it turns out to not direct you towards him.  

In conclusion, I will leave you with some of the benefits of genetic genealogy.  The decision is yours whether or not you wish to enter into this area in your search.

Some cool things that can be discovered in these tests are:
  • Discovering living relatives
  • Surname/clan reconstruction
  • Identifying ethnic group memberships
  • Determining ancestral homelands
  • Identifying Cohanim ancestry (Y-chromosomal Aaron) - Jewish priests and ancestors of Biblical Aaron (brother of Moses) [Cohen Modal Haplotype]
  • Identifying Native American ancestry
  • Identifying tribal groups 
Caucasian -
Eastern European (Slavic speaking of E. Europe)
Finno-Ugrian (Uralic speaking of NE Europe)
Mediterranean (Romance speaking of SW Europe)
Northwest European (Celtic and Germanic speaking of NW Europe)
Near Eastern:
North African (Sahara Dessert and Atlas Mts)
Mesopotamian (Iran, Iraq)
Aegean (Anatolia: Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Armenia)
Levantine (Semitic: Israel)
Asian - 
Central and South Asian (Indian)
East Asian (Chinese, Japanese)
Sub-Saharan Africa - 
South, East, and West Africa
American Indian - 
Native North American:
Arctic, Mexican, Great Plains, Northeastern, Pacific Northwest
Native Central and South American:
Amazonian, Andean, Central, Mayan, Patagonian
Pacific Islanders - 
Polynesian, Aboriginal

Genetic Genealogy Testing Companies:

23andMe ( - also does medical testing, in case you're worried!
DNA Tribes ( - does not do Y-STR tests but autosomal tribal tests

Results from any of these companies can be uploaded onto the Y-Search public database, which allows individuals who got their Y-DNA test done at any company to compare their results and find relatives! 

Any test that is AUTOSOMAL both males AND females can do, and can give some insight into heritage for the paternal side.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm BACK!!!! And with some news.....

Wow, so I know I've been gone for quite a while, and I just want you all to know I'm still here!!  I had midterms the past two weeks, so I practically haven't seen the light of day (except for the past 3 GORGEOUS days here in Cleveland - gotta love that sunshine until it snows again!!!  And Opening Day for the Tribe is only a few weeks away, so y'all know we have to have our Opening Day blizzard........)

I've also been getting slightly obsessed with doing my family's genealogy - thanks to my genealogy course I'm taking this semester.  I've even found TONS (and I'm talking 50-100) cousins on my Armenian side of the family that live in Worcester, thanks to my 3rd cousin who quizzed her father for us, and have possibly found two long-lost uncles (siblings of my g-grandfather, whom everyone assumed was an only child) whose children all live in California!!  Also have been in contact with some cousins who we will hopefully be going and meeting this summer in Boston/Worcester/Providence.  And that's just on my grandfather's side!

In other news, I GOT A JOB!!!!!  WOOHOO!!!!!  I will be starting my new job as a Reference Assistant on April 8th.  

I'm also excited to announce that I had my 10,000th visitor hit this past YAY!!!!

Not much else to report on here.  

In the DC world - I hate to say it but I've been somewhat MIA, but I am going to try to play catch-up over Spring Break and get back into the game.  I have a couple of things on my docket that I want to talk about, so I will get to writing and posting those in the near future.  

Until then, I bid you adieu!!