Adoption Searches Using DNA

>> Thursday, November 21, 2013

The method some of us have developed in the DNAAdoption group  for working with Autosomal DNA results is pertinent to genealogy searches as well.

You will find a methodology and other documentation on
There is a yahoogroup DNAadoption, that provides interchange of information among individuals working with their DNA results.

Despite what the ads for DNA testing look like, in almost every case, it takes a great deal of work to uncover the connections. However, the methodology does work.

Usually one gets a list of DNA cousins spread over many generations. However, recently one lucky person logged in to see her results and found that her birth mother had been tested and identified! This is everyone's dream of course.

The usual method is to identify the closest cousins. The longer the length of overlapping DNA segments, the closer the relationship. Then we try to get trees for these cousins and identify how they are related. Where the have a common ancestor, the person who is seeking also has that ancestor. Working down through trees looking for a person who might have been in the right place at the right time, it is necessary to follow all offspring of all generations. This can get pretty messy to follow, so I break out a separate tree using genealogy software of all descendants of that common ancestor.

I am working with a woman who has been looking a long time. She went a couple of years without any significant results from her DNA testing, but in the last couple of months has gotten results from 8 third DNA cousins. It is now a matter of hoping for good trees and following down these trees looking for the point where they once again intersect.

I have now been able to add people who tested with all three systems to one spreadsheet for comparison. I do this by downloading the FTDNA and 23andme files from I use data in FTDNA's chromosome browser list and 23andme's FIA list. The only data you will have in the FIA list is that from people who have shared genomes with you. I then ask Ancestry matches to upload to where I can see the chromosome numbers. Now I can compare the data of what once seemed like apples and oranges.

I hope in the next blog to give you some success stories.


The Miracle of DNA for Adoptees

>> Sunday, October 27, 2013

When I first started working with DNA for adoptee searches, I had some skepticsm as to how it could be done by most adoptees. Many of those searching having little computer experience and are older than the average computer user. I can now report that I am pleasantly surprised. In my first couple of months of searching, I asked everyone I came across for an outline of the methodology that should be used with DNA results to find birth family. No one could really tell me, so I finally stopped looking and decided to write down the process as I went. It was a trial and error process that continues to be refined to this day. The original methodology was contributed to by many patient people. Recently Karin Corbeil has been a huge help. With Karin's encouragement, I wrote a class on Working With Autosomal DNA. Karin and I take turns teaching it. Over 100 people have completed the course. The class has been very successful. To our immense gratification the method works. It is really a lot of effort, but it does work and it does identify birth families. You can find out about the class on the DNAadoption server. If you browse through the site index you will see many kinds of papers for various aspects of the search.

When I started working with DNA, we might have had one or two reunions a month at the most. Now we have having multiple ones per week and the rate of solution is increasing.

A few months ago, a core of the DNA Search Angels and technologists moved to a new Yahoogroup - DNAAdoption. This was done so that people who were serious about advancing the ability to use DNA results could communicate more directly with those who were searching and so that we would have a place to make our documentation and tools available for those who need them. You can join this group at DNA Adoption Yahoo Group. Sometimes there are lots of messages but by reading them you will accumulate knowledge of the subject and also find out how to get more information.

There is a third part to our educational system. This is the server where you can download tools and use on line tools to get your data from tests. About our class; it is necessary to learn to work with a spreadsheet to do the work. We are talking about storing and manipulation large amounts of data. We had one lovely lady in our first class who was pretty clueless on spreadsheets and DNA. She is in her late 70s. She worked hard and is now researching her data as well as answering questions for others. We are so proud of her. It can be done!

The process is that you test. You get a set of DNA cousins back. You identify those that have overlapping DNA segments with each other. Then we triangulate these results with you as part of the triangle. We have to use trees to find where people are related. We build a lot of trees. Once we have identified persons who are 3rd DNA cousins (common great-great grandparents or closer), we start to look at all the offspring in every generation, looking for someone in the right place at the right time who generally meets the predicted generation difference. Often this requires another DNA test to confirm or deny. The suspense of waiting for results is intense, but what joy when it comes through.

I hope if you are an adoptee and have been kept from finding your birth parents by lack of information, you will investigate this possibility. We are solving the impossible ones! It truly is a miracle!


  © Blog Design by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Back to TOP