Find Your Roots Through DNA
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Can DNA Really Help Me?


We know the basic methodology works and have had numerous successes even when information was falsified or not available.  We believed DNA testing would provide answers and now we have proven it.  We wouldn’t be here if it didn’t work.

Sounds great, but can it help ME?

Currently, we have had our most consistent successes with people of US colonial ancestry.  The keys to success are:

•     Many people from your ethnic group have tested                                                                                    

•     People from your ethnic group have extensive family trees going back at least ten generations    

•     Substantial genealogical resources exist for your ethnic group

The good news is that more people are testing every day and the tools and methodologies are getting more sophisticated.

When you first get your DNA results it may seem overwhelming.  You will get anywhere from a few dozen to a few thousand DNA matches.  We have been working on some methodologies that can help you wade through it all.  While the basic methodology remains our foundation, advances in DNA testing, new providers, new tools from existing providers and third party websites mean that we are constantly refining our methodologies and adding new tools to take advantage of what’s out there.  These methodologies are still works in progress as we learn and develop new tools. The methodology file can be found on the menu on the left. A working knowledge of spreadsheets is essential to organizing and digesting your DNA information. You do not have to be an expert, just know how to read and enter data into a spreadsheet. There are free spreadsheets online if you do not own the software.

A group of us, led by our developer, Rob Warthen, also have worked on and documented tools to extract and analyze data. We have developed programs to get the data from FTDNA, 23andme and AncestryDNA into spreadsheets at and macros to help manipulate your data. Some of these are documented in our methodologies and others will be documented soon. If you need the data extracted, please mention it on AdoptionDNA and someone will help you. Ask again if no one responds.

DNA is not a magic bullet and does not present you with an immediate answer but gives you information that can lead to solving the question of who your birth family is. It is dependent on your matches having family trees available. As you get matches of DNA cousins, then you will try to get a gedcom from them to work with. A gedcom is a standardized output of a family tree that allows you to load it into any genealogy software. Most gedcoms you get will need to be expanded out to include the time frame you are looking at.

Our basic methodology relies upon triangulation.  The idea is to identify the common ancestors among your DNA matches.  These common ancestors are likely (but not guaranteed) to be YOUR ancestors as well.  It’s a concept that takes a while to sink in.  Yes, you have ancestors.

Most of our documentation so far covers autosomal DNA testing results. But we will be adding Y-DNA information and there are several experts in this area who we can direct you to. Ask specifically for help with your Y-test results.

We need to add a caveat. Ashkenazi Heritage and extreme endogamy (close intermarriage) makes it difficult to use the methodology. The combinations of many ancestors with the same names makes the resulting files huge and in some cases unworkable. However, the tools are available for you to try if you wish to tackle the file issues.