Genetic genealogy uses DNA test results to find your biological family.
A new science called genetic genealogy has developed as the cost of DNA testing has come down. For less than a hundred dollars, nearly anyone can uncover thousands of biological relatives through an “autosomal” DNA test.
Countless people have lost relatives. Divorce, remarriage and infidelity can result in half siblings with no knowledge of each other. Furthermore, many adults are discovering, often accidentally, that the man who raised them is not their biological father. Adoptees have birth parents; but many are hidden due to the closed adoption process and sealed birth records. They may also have siblings, who might even be living nearby.
Although my preference is to work with Ancestry DNA test results, many more companies are now offering DNA testing. Find out which companies offer DNA testing.
Collectively, more than 25 million people have taken one or more of these tests. You simply order a home test kit and collect your own DNA by rubbing a swab inside your cheek or spitting into a tube. A few weeks after you mail in your sample, your results will be compared to everyone else in that database. You log into your private account and see all your matches and often an interesting ethnicity estimate too! See my ethnicity estimate from Ancestry.com below.
(See our genealogy services that can assist you in your research)
Your DNA Matches
Once your DNA has gone through the testing process, you are usually provided with a DNA match list. Reviewing your DNA matches is the next step. Some people get lucky and immediately discover a parent, sibling, or first cousin. This is happening far more often now that the databases are so huge. Although you may not find a really close match in your list, you will possibly have a close cousin or many slightly more distant cousin matches. Though a close match or second to third cousin or closer is ideal, it may still be possible to connect with your biological family while learning more about more distant DNA matches.
This is where a NZ genealogist for hire comes in…you will need the help of an experienced genetic genealogist to painstakingly work through your match list, separate your matches into your maternal and paternal lines then examine each match carefully looking for patterns of names, places and dates which could indicate a common ancestor.
Most likely, your closest matches will be second or third cousins. Second cousins, for example, share a set of great-grandparents with you. By contacting that person and/or examining an online family tree, it is usually possible to find a common ancestor and therefore find the branch of their family that includes you!
Some of the DNA cousin matches may have additional information available for you to review online. Additional information may include family surnames, places of origin, or even a family pedigree with names, dates, and places.
The above process is entirely dependent on the closeness of your matches and can take anywhere from hours to days, weeks and many months. Sometimes you don’t get lucky straight away and it is necessary to wait until a closer match tests and shows up in your list.
See an example of Ancestry DNA match data below. Note how matches are ranked in order of closest to my distant… in this example you are only seeing 3 matches. In reality there would be around 10,000 and the match list would go on page after page. Our fictitious “Molly”was lucky enough to have a parent show up on her match list and would have hit the jackpot if she was searching for a biological parent!