Posted by Jake Fletcher on December 7, 2017 in AncestryDNA, ProGenealogists

Few journeys in the world of genealogy are as poignant and challenging as an individual searching for his or her biological family. While all people who pursue genealogy experience some sense of self-discovery and emotion, researchers solving “unknown parentage” questions produce even more passion. With the world of genetic genealogy exploding in popularity over the last four years, these genealogical mysteries are being solved almost daily thanks to consumer tests like AncestryDNA.

Testament to this is the fact that, to date, there are more than 6 million people in the AncestryDNA community, making it the largest database of personal genetic data. Because of this, many families are reconnecting and individuals are finding closure thanks to the vast AncestryDNA network. With the high level of interest in genetic genealogy, many people who were previously hesitant to take the plunge are wondering what is involved in this type of research. If one of your research goals is to solve an unknown parentage mystery, here are some tips to help you get started on your journey.

  • Once you receive your AncestryDNA results, catalog and assess your matches. This is one of the most important steps when you begin to do DNA research. You want to keep a personal record of DNA matches for posterity and also to help with analysis. Start by creating a spreadsheet or catalog for your DNA matches that includes the following information:
    • User name.
    • Amount of shared DNA (measured in centimorgans). This information can be obtained by clicking on the info icon on a match’s profile.
    • The predicted relationship between you and your match.
    • Note whether a tree is attached to your match’s DNA results. It is also worthwhile going to their Ancestry profile page to see if they have a private tree.
    • Make note of surnames included in the tree.
    • Shared matches, which can be found by clicking on the “Shared Matches” button. This will allow you to identify groups of matches, which will better organize your research.
  • Create a match tree. One of the most important steps in working with DNA is to visualize connections between the matches. Groups of matches are often related through a common ancestral couple, so it’s a good idea to chart these out. This will help you in your research as you envision theories for the identity of a biological relative. There are a number of programs that can do this, but I suggest Lucidchart, because it’s simple, intuitive, and cleanly presents your match tree.

  • Carefully weigh all the evidence (both DNA and non-DNA). Success in unknown parentage research does not rely solely on DNA analysis. Traditional genealogical research and documents can provide crucial evidence. Depending on the state, adoptees may be able to obtain an original birth certificate or non-identifying information about their parents from an adoption agency. Another example would be looking at a common ancestral couple. As you do so, you’ll want to obtain all the documents pertaining to that family and their children, because online trees can miss these crucial details.
  • Be prepared for contact. This can be the most difficult part of the journey. It’s exciting when research solves the mystery, but then what does the person do when they decide to make contact with a biological parent or other members of their biological family? More important than the method of establishing contact is the mindset going into it. We are all human and need to recognize that our contact may elicit diverse reactions.

AncestryProGenealogists works with hundreds of clients every year to solve these types of cases. These projects go to ProGen’s unknown parentage team, a group of expert genetic genealogists and researchers. We are just as passionate about finding biological family as our clients are. Over the next few months, members of the AncestryProGenealogists unknown parentage team will share some of our client journeys (and some of our own) to showcase the profound impact AncestryDNA has had on many test-takers’ lives.

Jake Fletcher

Jake Fletcher is an Associate Genealogist at Ancestry ProGenealogists. He specializes in a number of genealogical research areas, including the Northeastern U.S., Ireland, and unknown parentage. Prior to coming to Ancestry, Jake was a self-employed professional genealogist in Massachusetts and was active as a public speaker, blogger, and volunteer. He currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

70 Comments

  1. Bonnie Chaney

    My one son gave me the dna kit for Christmas last year. My other son spent hours researching and following leads. Consequently, I was able to find my birth family. I now have a sister and two brothers in my life. I was able to get background information that has been life changing. Thank you.

    • Member Services Social Support Team

      @Bonnie: That is truly lovely to hear how they were able to help you find your birth family! We can only imagine how you all must feel and we wish you all the best with everything. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, we really appreciate it!

  2. Mary Kay Radnich

    DNA turned up my half-brother this year, confirming the family rumor that my mother had a child long before she met my dad. Now we are preparing to search for his birth father. Its exciting! Thanks for this information!

    • Member Services Social Support Team

      @Mary: That’s fantastic to hear! We’re really happy for you both and we hope you will be able to find this information as well!

      • Sandbar46

        Do you have any suggestion on where to turn when one biological parent you have contacted, and is obviously not interested in you, but also, will not respond to a request only for a fathers name.

  3. Michael

    Could you please talk to Ancestry.DNA product management about this? It’s crazy that this has to be all manual when Ancestry could readily provide tools like XLS download to help automate the process.

    • Member Services Social Support Team

      @Michael: We will definitely pass on your feedback in relation to this to the relevant department for consideration. We really appreciate you taking the time to provide this.

    • Joyce

      Michael ancestry USED to provide an xls download…they discontinued it when they did “NEW” ancestry and IMO it was a mistake. BUT

      You say make a list of family names in your spreadsheet for matches—that will make a spreadsheet quite cumbersome with all the names in many good trees…

      We STILL need at LEAST 4 different colored stars Ancestry, many more would be better…and a file to sort our matches into various files.

      WHY should we have to do all this manual labor when all we need is stars and filing cabinets to sort them, and make notes about what we see in matches trees? It would be better organization for US and face it, many of us are older and not as computer savvy as younger folks. Every time I touch a spreadsheet someone sends me I mess it up if I try to sort it or do anything to it…

      I know a LOT of people who have trouble even using your website to do trees. You are not taking into account the experience level of your average users Ancestry.

      I see a LOT of people having problems even finding their folks, and often help them…I don’t think you understand the scope of just how computer illiterate a lot of your users are…

      BUT if you give them a simple filing system, and different colored stars, they might be able to function with that…Tell them to go create a spreadsheet and you are talking WAY over their head. I even took a class in excel years ago, and I still get lost in them…

      It can be so much easier than that, if you just give us a filing system for DNA matches and different colored stars to help us sort out lines.

      • Sharon

        I just got my results today and I have to say it was a big waste of money. Not only do I have to pay for the test but also another $99 every 6 months to see results and updates? I have over 1,000 cousins and I’m supposed to click each and every one and try to figure out how we are related? This was nothing like I thought it would be.

      • Mercedes McVey

        The idea of doing a spreadsheet is so overwhelming to me. I work on my tree finding docs, and with the genetic genealogy a bit, testings on every site possible and uploading to Gedmatch. I don’t know many people that are willing to put the time and (sore back from sitting at the computer so long,) into something like this, and even for me, a spreadsheet seems like tellling me to take an advanced math class. I love to learn new things, but that is just so tedious. It’s not practical. Who could sustain that level of sheer boredom. I have a passion, tolerence, the discipline to record every detail, search in a ton of different ways.. There has to be a better way than doing a spreadsheet by hand. It’s 2018.
        For now I star anything with a shared match, or high interest, and make notes. I never knew about different colored stars.

  4. Linda

    I agree that Ancestry should provide the ability to use XL without having to manually transfer the DNA match information.
    Additionally the ability to download the ‘last of all people’ and sort the list by its headers.

  5. Carmel McMullen

    I have been lucky to be a part of 2 occasions in past 12 months where people have found their missing family because they matches my tests. It has been an amazing experience to know they have missing part of their families because of my research. The first one came about because I already knew so much about the family and most potential candidates considering amount of shared DNA 3rd cousin range would not have been in the area where conception took place. Knowing family background was a big part of solving the puzzle there. The other one I had likely father in mind but that involved research into all shared matches to convince the match that I had the answer. I don’t think ancestry could provide the tools to create all that knowledge as it really does requure a lot of hours to gain the necessary information

    • Member Services Social Support Team

      @Carmel: That’s amazing to hear that you have been able to help them find their missing family and we can imagine how much they appreciate all the extensive research you have done. It’s really nice to see how our members can help each other solve these puzzles and family mysteries and we appreciate you sharing this.

  6. Janet Ahrens

    I echo what has been said before about being able to download info via XLS. Using screen shots and/or somehow making note of the information is a big waste of time. It generates bad feelings about Ancestry every time I have to do it.

  7. Debbi Barnes

    DNA turned up a cousin of mine on my maternal side. It was rumored that my grandmother had a child out of wedlock, and thanks to my DNA match, my cousin was able to confirm who her biological grandmother was. And, thanks to Ancestry’s record, she was able to find out who her biological grandfather was.

  8. Mrs. Davies

    Well written. However, not everyone would want to learn to do a spreadsheet and input surnames from other trees – many of my matches (4th-6th) on 4 persons all have 10,000 plus names. Too many that is just too much to deal with. I do however, use the Shared Matches extensively and that truly does help tell if the match is on the maternal or paternal side. For example – my husband’s mother is a Gallagher from Lanark County Ontario – and through shared matches I learned that a Wallace surname connected to the Morman church kept popping up and she was from Lanark County also. Now I do record all the shared matches from this and it will help connecting his mother to the Wallace line. But for my British born half sister – it is rather a dead end. No more DNA matches really appear and I know which ones are connected to our mother – all the others may be her birth father, had a couple replies but basically no one has family names listed or because it isn’t connected to Americans from 1600-1800 they aren’t interested in talking. Sharing, talking and learning will help but Lordy I sure do need many more DNA matches for my half sister. She will be 80 next year!

  9. margaret

    I’m not techy enough to do spread sheets. Can you simplify this for those of us who are old-fashioned pencil and paper users? Why can’t ancestry with the 6 million x $100.U.S. invest some $ to give us tools to help in organizing our info? Thanks.

    • Jake Fletcher

      Margaret,

      It doesn’t have to be on a spreadsheet. I just prefer that because columns help me to organize and filter information. It’s more of the point that I recommend cataloging your matches in some form, just as any genealogist should keep notes on their research. Paper and pencil certainly works fine!

  10. Vicki

    I have discovered that I had a different Dad and I have a 1/2 brother by doing AncestryDNA. But, I am so frustrated when I send a message to a match and they don’t respond…don’t they want to know more. If they don’t care…why bother with the test.

  11. Stephen Schmideg

    Ancestry is probably the most expensive of the testing companies and the least user friendly with the worst analytical tools. Not surprisingly when I get a likely match, I don’t get replies, because 80% of the 6 million don’t know what to do on the DNA site.

  12. Tom Boyer

    Jake, you mention Lucidchart in your article. Is there some interface between DNA matches and Lucidchart? I looked at the Lucidchart link but it seems I would have to manually import names and relationships which could lead especially in my case to erroneous info even if it is displayed really well.

    • Jake Fletcher

      Hi Tom,

      Lucidchart does not import any data from Ancestry. Lucidchart is a diagram tool that assists with research and analysis of DNA matches. You will have to create a chart of your matches manually, but it’s very simple to use.

  13. David Sobel

    I bought the DNA package months ago and I have not heard from the DNA Lab. I just looked at my family tree and there’s a hint form someone who is not a family member. I am beginning to think that this is a scam.

  14. Brian Schuck

    I had to chuckle as I read this article.. First recommended step is to catalog your ancestors in a spreadsheet – and yet Ancestry makes this extremely cumbersome to do and I find when I do it, that it immediately becomes obsolete.
    Some recommendations – Give us a way to search the notes. Give us more options for marking matches other than with a star or without a star – far too limiting. Improve the search function for finding other users – Can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to find a username in a directory and can’t because of how picky the search parameters are – if you don’t spell the username perfectly, won’t show up. Give us options to decide on shared matches if we want lower thresholds for matches – like 15.0 cm. How can you get more people doing tests to actually build a tree and connect themselves to the tree? Can anything be done in the way you send e-mail messages – I get about a 10% response rate using the send a message feature. I use ancestry because it has the most people on it, not because it’s easy to use for hard core DNA research. It’s really cumbersome for that.

  15. Patti Pryer

    I’ve a close family match and somewhere on this site it suggested two other tests we could take to further check our connection. Now poof I cant find the page where those tests were suggested. Can you help, please.

  16. Darlene Silva

    With so many people taking the DNA tests and many of us have well over 1000 cousin matches, it would be extremely helpful to have additional flagging options, such as marking whether from Maternal or Paternal side, assigning a surname for the family line, etc. (all we can do now is ‘favorite’ a match and add notes–that’s fairly simple). Being able to sort by additional flags would be great as well. Since it doesn’t look like we will be getting a chromosome browser any time soon, additional tools really are needed by those of us that want to do the research on our own. In addition, the ability to download our matches into a spreadsheet for those that may want to would add so much to your product. As much as I love Ancestry, the addition of more versatile tools really is long over-due.

  17. Susanne E Laflin

    Thanks to Ancestry.com DNA testing, I found a niece I didn’t know existed ( she was put up for adoption at birth), and within 4 days of my contacting her, she had not only found, but also talked with on the phone, both of her birth parents. Within 2 months she had met not only her birth parents, but also several half siblings! I finally was able to fly to CA to meet her last month. The Ancestry DNA test has been life changing for several of us!

  18. Melba Ann Barber

    In 1952 when I was adopted names were changed via amended birth certificates to reflect adoptive parents as birth parents. Closed adoptions were the norm for many years so undoubtedly, amended birth certificates reflecting erroneous family history apply to perhaps thousands of people. Original birth certificates have been opened in some states, but remain closed in others. Are there steps that can be taken to encourage all states to open original birth certificates? Besides providing accurate family history, original birth certificates might also be helpful in obtaining medical history.

  19. John Mercer

    Ancestry UK customer service is appalling. Anna who spoke to me was rude in her manner and refused to let me speak to her Manager. Whilst I live in Australia, I am a member of Ancestry UK and pay my annual membership for some years to UK now. I have ordered my own DNA kit through Ancestry Australia. I tried electronically to order a kit to be shipped from Ancestry UK to my cousin who lives in UK. I am told I must have a UK bank account or UK credit card in order to purchased a DNA as a present for my cousin.Anna twice initially said they could not ship across to Australia so wasn’t listening to what I was saying.
    I am appalled that an international company cannot ship within their own country and allow payment through visacredit card that is accepted everywhere including the UK.

    Seems you don’t want business Happy Christmas to you as you are not making mine happy not able to send a DNA kit to my cousin as a present
    John Mercer

  20. Sheryl Lynn Stone

    I joined to see what countries my family originated from and not only confirmed my origins but discovered I had a first cousin I never knew about. My uncle had a child long before marrying and creating the only family I had ever met. We got in touch and met on Thanksgiving day after she flew across the country to meet her only living relatives. Our lives have changed. Her search for family is over and we gained a family member we never knew existed. Thank you Ancestry!

  21. Linda Hindes

    Is this an expensive site? What is the cost to join? Mom passed away Aug. 2016. My birth certificate did not give me a first name and she did not state “father’s name”. I have no way of knowing if the man I knew was my bio father. He passed many years ago.

    • Mercedes McVey

      To respond respectfully to someone asking the question, “Is this site expensive?” (jmho.) I don’t really find Ancestry expensive. It’s been the most user friendly site I have used; I have tried too many to count, this has been, by far, the best for building your tree, and esp. re: having access to other people’s trees. But, there is a limit to what a/one company can provide. I also use Family search, which is free, and irishgenealogy.ie has helped me so much.
      This is simply the best place to build a tree of this size. When I think of the service I get, it’s not expensive, if you ask me, even though I pay for the World (highest level) one, and Newspapers $11.95 a month seperately. I have found so many people through learning how to use the matches. Things happened, connections, learning, finding family members, family secrets coming to light, some of the most intimate rewarding relationships of my life through using the tools here. What does one pay for that, what price? Plus, when we build a tree, it helps others, when I make a breakthrough with a person or record, or unravel a family that’s been incorrectly listed on a tree, it helps many others get unstuck, too. What do you pay for that? in dollars? How much money do we put into leaving a legacy that in not monetary, but beyond that. Many of my family members could care less about this stuff, but some day, that one person might want to know, and to truthfully represent someone’s like, an ordinary person, perhaps, is a great honor for me to do, because their lives mattered. They were important to the whole family, like one cell in a body of cells, but essential, and building this tree is honoring those lives. I mean how much money do I put into that, by mere subscription.
      No other companies broke my DNA down to specific areas for Irish, like Munster or Irish in Limerick & Kerry. They could have better Polish records, but they are always updating and improving services. I think genealogy can be confusing, emotional, hard work, and frustrating, and sometimes the company itself gets blamed for it, expecting too much these days. Genealogy takes a lot of footwork, one can’t expect ancestry to do it for them, and can’t force others to reply to messages, or build a tree, or make it public.
      For me it’s also about truly becoming a better communicater, respectful, honest, succinct, polite and patient. You are intruding into a strangers life, and never know what’s going on in it. They maybe have only taken a test because a family member asked them too, and now they find out things that turns their whole lives upside down.
      I have taken tests on FTDNA, no real complaints, but seriously, to make a tree on there? You can put a gedcom on, but I got a 4.0 grade point average through college, and it was confusing, boring and tedious to me. It’s nothing compared to this site. Or even Wiki tree, amazing idea, more power to you if you want to do that, but talk about tedious and having to learn how to use it. Way too time consuming. Gedmatch you can’t make a tree on there. Each site has something different to offer, but ancestry contains it all. You can put pics or stories on there, so easily uploaded. Where else an you do that? I love this company. The more money we pay into it’s success, the more we get as far as I am concerned. I buy the tests for family members when they are on sale. For that one time fee, they let you take the results other places.
      Maybe people complain about the subscription fee being expensive, but my husband and I can spend that on a meal of take out food in one evening. I can eat some oatmeal and eggs for dinner to pay for this once a month cost instead, give up something else to have this service that is available to me 24/7.
      Besides that, now instead of sitting in front of the t.v. I have no time for it, or it’s boring compared to this research. Thank you ancestry.

  22. Deb (Frost) Fischer

    I have just started my search on ancestry. It is so hard for me as I was adopted, my birth mother died when I was 4. The man she married was not my birth father but he is listed as my father in my orginal birth certificate. I know
    (I think) my birth Fathers name but… I am confused as how to put my name on my tree since I was adopted. I put my name that appears on my original before adoption and my my mother’s maiden name. I truly am confused as to how adoptees like myself proceed. I did the dna testing so am trying to work though that. I know I have a whole other family out there and I just want to know them and about my past life and , to fill in the missing pieces. I do not feel whole and at 62 I feel like something (someone’s) are missing in my life. Whew! Thanks for letting me vent as I am frustrated.

    • Joyce

      Deb…there are different schools of thought re what names to put on tree…I am of the opinion that only DNA related people should be on your tree…so in other words your adopted father should not be on the tree…to account for him you might want to do a story to explain…and perhaps give him his own tree, since you may know people related to him who may be interested.

      Until you are SURE of your birth father my personal recommendation is to enter his name on your tree (for now) and keep your tree private and attach your DNA to that tree…research everything you can about his lines, as far back as possible with extended families. Hopefully if you get enough info into your tree you many start seeing shared ancestor hints.

      It is imperative your tree stay private until you know 100% for sure as people WILL copy it…I know an adoptee that did a tree a=n everyone he “thought” was his father and many people copied the erroneous info…you do not want that to happen.

      I wish ancestry would post our user names here, as I would certainly be willing to take a little time to guide you. I hope what I have explained is enough to help you.

      If you are lucky enough to have closer matches…1st, 2nd cousins then make sure you do private trees on those folks and carry the lines out as far as you can, also follow them back a bit…Finding a birth father is not always easy, so keep everything private until you are 100% sure as you don’t want to add to the incorrect info that plagues genealogy these days due to people copying info will nilly

  23. Joyce

    BTW I cannot stress enough that doing extended trees is very necessary if you are to pin down DNA relations…Many researchers, esp if new to genealogy get stuck at points, so if you have not followed lines down several generations, you won’t find them.

    I see too many people essentially going in a straight pedigree line…that does you a BIG disservice. 1st info you need to get further might be found by doing siblings, cousins, etc and following the lines.

    I cannot tell you how many times people have contacted me to ask if I knew how they were related. Because I do very extended families, I am often able to tell them who, what, when where and help them get over their “speed bumps”.

    Today we have the added problem of people without any tree, or those who only put down a few names and then leave ancestry. If you don’t have extended trees, you will never figure out how they are related.

    I have done a lot of mirror trees on folks that give me just enough info to start a tree on their lines…it has been successful in many cases.

    That is what enabled me to find my adopted husbands birth father –I did a mirror tree on a 2nd cousin match and researched entire family. @nds cousin match had been missing quite a few of her grandmother’s (?) siblings…I found them all with a LOT of digging and one of those people turned out to be my husband’s birth father.

    And my favorite saying is “many DNA matches links are hiding behind women’s skirts”…It can be really difficult to discover maiden names of women, but you need to seriously dig for that info as that is key to about 50% of your matches.

    DNA can be rewarding but it can also be very frustrating. I am currently trying to help an adoptee with only 4th cousin matches. No matter what we do we cannot 100% determine the parents. We think we know who the mother is, but until we can get a closer match to test, we cannot prove it. The lady who we think is the mother did not have any other children.

    Using DNA is not for the faint of heart, but if you are to make any progress you need extended trees…VERY extended trees…getting as close to living people as you possibly can.

  24. Rafael Colon-Roles

    My daughter lost the code numbers to three DNA tests that I purchased for this daughter, her son and her mother. I reside in Florida, while they reside in Colorado. These tests were purchased for Mothers Day 2017 on my credit card. Can you help me recover this data?

  25. Mt572

    I would like to be able to query my matches for which surnames are most frequent among them? Which locations? And to prioritize the results based on how close the relation is.

  26. Michel

    My paternal cousin is interested to find his birth father. But he’s not able to manage anything online. Could I get him a DNA kit and help him, without it affecting my tree? And, is it possible to get a Y-DNA test through Ancestry, since he’s looking for his father? He’s the only male left in my family, I have two sisters and one female cousin. So we have nobody else to take the test with him.

  27. Jim

    I’ve used Ancestry for 20+ years researching and building my family tree and the DNA test that I was hoping to break some “brick walls” lead me to discover that I was adopted! With both (adoptive) parents deceased, it took about a year of head scratching over not finding matches with familiar surnames, a lot of 1st and second cousin matches with Shared Match groups, and finally a half-sibling with her own unique Shared Match groups before I finally put it all together.

    Within 6 to 8 months of my half-sibling match I pinpointed my birth father and my maternal grandparents, and 1 1/2 years later I have “validated” my new family with 22 matches and paper records, 21 of them on Ancestry, and about equally split paternal/maternal.

    I continue to use the Shared Match “groups” as my start point for validating my other matches using the methods in this blog post. The only difference is that I built a new Ancestry tree rather than using LucidChart, because it makes it so much easier to find reliable paper records for my Matches. I have one “speculative” tree that is private to gather records and potential ancestors, and when I am certain that I’ve built a match back through their ancestors and forward to me, I put all of them into a public tree linked to my DNA test, so as to benefit from Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles for leads to DNA Match “low hanging fruit”.

    Now, on to what Ancestry can do to help we adoptees (without resorting to a Chromosome Browser, which I totally understand the reluctance behind)..
    (1) Fully & strongly agree with the need for surname list downloads, for both our trees and that of our matches.
    (2) Fully & strongly agree with the need for better methods of grouping and sorting matches, extra “stars” or group “folders”, etc.
    (3) Allowing us to create “surrogate” maternal and paternal matches using our closest DNA matches (from their unique Shared Match lists) when we can’t test a parent would possibly eliminate the need for some of item (2)
    (4) A DOWNLOAD OF SHARED MATCH LISTS. I’m “shouting” this because it’s been absolutely instrumental for me in defining the ancestral lines of my matches! If there were no way to get this information I would still be trying to connect & validate most of the 22 matches that I have done so far. THANK YOU DNAGedcom Client.

    Thank you Jake Fletcher & the Ancestry Blog for this article and opportunity to tell my story and share my methodology. Ancestry.com movers & shakers… over to you to make the additions!

    • Member Services Social Support Team

      @Jim: We’re very happy to hear that you were able to find all this information and your relatives, that’s really great to hear and thank you for sharing your methodology! 🙂 That is excellent suggestions and we really appreciate you taking the time to give us this specific feedback. We understand how that would be helpful to yourself and our other members and we have passed this along to our developers for future consideration. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

  28. Jessica Mitchell

    My journey into figuring out if I had different father started when I was about 18. I remember asking my dad if he was my birth father and he said yes, which he claims was confirmed by a DNA test in the early 70’s. After he passed away in 1994, I tried to look into this a little deeper. I was born on Easter Sunday in 1972. I was brought home from the hospital the very same day. This was all my family would tell me. Actually, the woman who told me this was an aunt through marriage. She didn’t get the memo that she wasn’t ever supposed to share that story with me. When I tried to get more information they just laughed it off and wouldn’t share anything else. (On my 40th birthday, the uncle that’s married to this woman I just mentioned was arguing with me that I couldn’t have been brought home the same day I was born because the hospital would never released me.. He refused to believe me so he went over to his sister (who knows more than she will ever share), and I heard her tell him that my parents didn’t have insurance and since I was healthy, the hospital released me to who they were told was my father. So, if my parents had no health insurance how could they afford a DNA test in the 70’s??

    Back then the internet wasn’t what it is now and I had no idea what Ancestry.com was. Also at this time, I believed my mother might still be alive somewhere even though I was led to believe she died when I was 4. Within these next 2 years I found out that my mother had passed away when I was 6, she was married & divorced before she met my “father” and she had several siblings. I was able to get in contact with my aunt on my mom’s side when I was 23. I asked if I had a different father than my sister and she told me a story about how my “parents” fought after I was born, my mother went to stay with this sister in Florida, and this man (“my father’) was so in love with my mother that he chased after her and brought us back to NJ to his family. They had my little sister two years later. My mom’s sister didn’t come out and say he was not my father but she also didn’t confirm that he was. Sometime in the mid to late 90’s I found Ancestry.com. This is where I was able to find some information on my mother’s side of the family. As exciting as this was, I was very inexperienced with the internet and Ancestry.com and didn’t know what to do with the information found as far as connecting to living relatives. In 2011, a friend of mine purchased the mtDNA kit for me as a Christmas present. We were hoping this would give insight as to where I was from. It wasn’t the kind of test I thought it was. Heartbreak. Eventually Ancestry.com with their current DNA kit. In June 2012 I placed an order. When the results came back I thought it was a mistake. I called my sister and asked her to test as well. I order 4 additional tests for my husband and my kids. Once the results came back on my sister and my kids I knew the results were accurate. Now I had concrete proof that my sister and I do not share the same father. So the search begins to find my biological father. In 2014 I believe, I finally got ahold of my godmother who was best friends with my mother and her sister. I asked her who my father was and she said my mother was a very private person and she didn’t say a word to anyone. My godmother took a picture of me from my christening and showed it to her own mother who supposedly had the ‘sixth-sense’ and she told my godmother that I was an bi-racial child. Still no answers as to who is my biological father is. In July 2016, my mom’s sister passed away. Her only child contacted me and told me she found a number to one of the brother’s and his wife (our aunt and uncle on our mom’s side). I called her and she told me she knew who my biological dad was and that he passed away around the same time as my mother (1978.) At least I had a name I told myself. I searched every spelling to this name but even without a date of birth the search kept coming up “no results found.” I just about gave up as I was literally back to square one. November of this year (2017), I get an email from a woman that shows up as a first cousin. After narrowing it down to which 2 of her uncles could be my father, he orders an AncestryDNA test. Wednesday, December 20, 2017 I found the other 1/2 of me! My father has finally been revealed. I now have an additional 6 siblings!!!! This journey has been so long. My two worst fears were that I would find my biological father but he passed away and the other was that maybe this other family wouldn’t be accepting. So far I have only been in contact with my first cousin & her mother (my biological father’s sister), one of my uncles (my biological father’s brother), my father and one of my sisters. My husband and I are bringing our 3 children to meet some of the family for the first time this summer. If I had the time, I’d share more of this story that lead to this point…but maybe someday I’ll write a book. Thanks Ancestry!

  29. Ann Heatherington

    This is useful for newbies, but for non-newbies it is very elementary.
    When is Ancestry going to implement a chromsome browser so we can really get down to business?

  30. Shawn Rodriguez

    My Grandparents had given up 3 children for adoption to a friend of the family, only reason we could gather is lack of financial stability, no birth control. I have been with Ancestry for quite a long time. A name came up that I never heard before and was a close family member, so I had sent a message months ago and waited for an response. A couple days beforeChirstmas this year, i got several texts on my phone in response to my search. She named my grandmother as her mother and my grandfather as her father. I was so shocked as I thought all of the secrets of the past were all out, not so!! It was my aunt, my mothers sister. We are so happy to find this family member, one of the most exciting time in our lives. Thank you Ancestry I couldnt have done it without you!

  31. Wally Boris

    I have a couple of DNA matches that I would love to trace back to one person. My mom did not know who her father was, these two DNA matches might be offspring of my mother’s father. Is there a way to prove this fact?

  32. paulasievers

    I am in complete confusion, my dna stated a 1st cousin who is 96 years old, I’m 65 and have absolutly no idea what is happening, she has no crossing of family members with mine, what is going on? All people are long deceased in my stated family to help with any answers, something is not right.

  33. Karen Archer

    I found my birth father through Ancestry and found a wonderful brother and 2 sisters who refuse to meet me. It has been a long emotional journey as my birth father did not know about me and I found out he had been murdered many years ago. I do know who my birth mother is but she has blocked me from every having contact. When anyone decides to search for their birth family, be prepared it is a very emotion experience but can be wonderful.

    • Stephanie Rogers

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Maybe it’s best you didn’t grow up around your parents. Best of luck to you. I met my half brother and so far it has been amazing. Still searching for my half-sister.

  34. jennifer waters

    I did my DNA last spring and within 3 weeks of getting the results I had found my birth mother alive and well across the world. The remarkable part of this is that I was 63 yrs old. We meet in a couple of months. Since then I have found my paternal relatives . It is the most amazing thing and I feel so lucky to have experienced this. Best $140. I ever spent

  35. Bob Budz

    I’m curious about the accuracy of the Ancestry DNA kit and results. First, is there a way to obtain the raw results of my test … and also will those results be described with haplogroups? Does Ancestry even use haplogroups? Second, if inaccurate, will Ancestry pop for a second test?
    At the age of 70, I took the National Geographic Genome Project DNA test and was able to verify that the man I thought was and was told was my father, was not. I did another test with Ancestry hoping for recent familial connections that NatGeo does not provide.
    All the physical evidence that I’ve discovered in a deep search pointed directly to a man who lived with my family for a year or so. After gathering up all the kids (when I was 3), my mother even left the man I was told was my father, for the one for whom I now believe, and all my evidence proves such, to be my biological father. But that move only lasted 3 months and back we went to fake dad.
    So now I have tons of evidence about the origins of this second man. Along comes the Ancestry DNA test results and does not match me with any of his (Ancestry.com) relatives. Strangely, I am matched with several Ancestry members that come from the same, somewhat rare history/area. But there is NO RELATIONSHIP or DNA match between the two groups. I’ve written almost all members of both groups and have been mostly met with crickets. I thought one joined Ancestry to make connections with family and one’s history. Apparently not in this case. Furthermore, the people in this new matching group have relatives with virtually no internet current or historical presence. And they share just two names among all of their trees. It’s like Ancestry said…”We can’t quite get the paternal DNA correct, so we’ll make something up…and people too.
    Now I know that’s a dumb assumption and I really don’t make it. I’m just saying it SEEMS such because it’s all so weird.
    As an aside, matches to my mother’s side is spot on. So….what’s going on?!
    I do have one very close DNA match (shared grandparent) with this new DNA matching group. But she/he has refused to reply to perhaps 10 different pleas for contact or even brief, general information about her/his family…even though she/he has been to the site a couple of times.
    I love the challenge and the detective work associated with developing a genealogy. But I’m getting lost here with this lack of communication and lack of clarity. I’m desperate to find the truth of my past and the path of my family. But there sure are some strange roadblocks on that path.

  36. Sarah N.

    I was adopted at the age of 11 but know my biological mother and a little of her side of the family. She has very limited information about my biological father which I have been trying everything I can for several years to turn something up. I just ordered my AncestryDNA kit and I am hoping that I can find some family from my biological father’s side, or him. Is this something that has happened before?

  37. Scott

    Just a product suggestion…wasn’t real sure were to put it, so I thought I’d grab a blog entry that was ‘sort of’ in the same area of focus.

    I think it would be great if when viewing your DNA matches, in the LIST of matches, it included any shared surnames with that match, so you don’t manually have to open each match and search for the connection. Often I’ll be looking at matches that I’ve ‘starred’ because we have a shared ancestor, but I have to manually go in and look at the match each time to remember who I connect to through a particular surname. Would be great to be able to just quickly scroll down a list of your matches and see connection surnames there somewhere. Thanks.

  38. Stephanie

    How many relatives should I test. My mom has 5 siblings. Testing a few pick up extra matches, but is testing all 5 necessary? Is there a study showing whether testing more than 2 or 3 siblings actually gets you anywhere? Has anyone tested 5-10 siblings and gotten different matches for each person?

  39. Julie

    I would love to be able to sort and categorize my dna results without having to create a whole new spreadsheet! I feel like I have a bunch of info on the dna page and can’t do much with it! I discovered that my mother was adopted when I got my dna results, and I think I’ve found who her birth mother is. If I could “do something” with the matches it would make this process so much easier.

  40. Tom Anthony

    Thanks to the DNA test, I just found my proverbial “Long Lost Brother” – 70 years after he was adopted. The rest of our family never knew. We will be meeting in person for the first time ever in mid February. Ancestry – wouldn’t that make a great commercial? Feel free to contact me 🙂

    • Stephanie Rogers

      I just found my long lost brother too! Gratefully, I only had to wait 29 yrs. We met a week later and it has been awesome. Best of luck to you and congrats!

  41. Stephanie Rogers

    I wanted to come on and give a big warm thanks to Ancestorydna for connecting me with my half brother. My Mother gave birth to him in 1988 and immediately put him up for adoption. I have been searching and wondering what happened to him all these years. I submitted my DNA and bing! There was a match. It listed him as my first cousin. But we met and shared information and he is definitely my half brother. This has been a dream come true! You are a blessing!

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