STEPS TO FIND YOUR FAMILY SUCCESSFULLY
- The first step is to start your family tree. This is where you will add important information as you go, such as birth dates, death dates, marriages, children born, newspaper clippings and more. Even if you're adopted, start a tree with what you know, even if that is just your adopted name. There are other steps to follow that will help fill in this tree. Adoptees will probably end up with 3 or 4 trees, researching possible leads, but this is a good way to keep track of what you have already unfolded. Consider your family tree, your work space or billboard of information.
- The next step I suggest is to submit an autosomal DNA test with Ancestry.com, FTdna, 23andMe or My Heritage. I personally prefer Ancestry.com. However, if you are a male seeking a birth father, then I strongly suggest to also invest in a Y-DNA test, which is specifically for the paternal line. This is how you can uncover "surnames" to investigate. Click here to learn more about Y-DNA tests.
- Note: Adoptees, a DNA test will provide you with substantial clues, however, if it is paired with your "NON-ID" information that you obtain from the adoption agency or vital records department in the county you were born in, MAGIC can happen! The smallest clue can lead you in the right direction. Read about my Non ID and DNA case.
Besides, your NON ID is all about you and your adoption. You are entitled to it and should have it! Some states may require a "compilation" fee. I know Wisconsin's fee is $45-75 with an option for you to have them do the search as well (I personally would hold off on that and just request your medical and non id info for now. You can always hire them at a later date. Save some money and see what you can discover on your own first). ALWAYS CHECK to see if your birth parents signed a waiver to release their identity, if you were to inquire to find them. You can also submit a waiver to release your identity to them if they inquire to find you. Click here to learn more about NON ID information.
Understanding the "cousin connection" in DNA results
Ok, so your DNA results are back and you just don't understand how every match is a cousin! Each generation match (2nd cousin, 3rd cousin) has 2 - 5 different possible charts that could fit your match. To determine which chart you should use, pay attention to the age difference between you and your match. Let's say you were born in 1973 and your 2nd cousin match was born in 1954. Considering a generation is about 15 - 20 years in distance, your match would be 1 full generation older than you.
I work these charts backward, so Where it says "YOU", put the name of your match and where it says "your match", put your name. Why....because browsing the family tree that your match provided (work with a match that has a family tree posted), you can work backward in time, to the top left column box (ancestor - usually a grand parent) under the top main centered Grand parent. The top centered box (great (x) grandparent) simply signifies that the top box in each column below are siblings. One of the siblings of the person in the top left hand column box above your match, is the connection that is going to lead down to the person you are searching for. But don't trust just one match...you want to work a chart on a minimum of 4 matches and find the common ancestor, or "proof" that you have the correct branch! I suppose you can work the chart either way, I have just always started with the DNA Match on the left side.
There is a lot of time involved in working these charts, especially the further back in time you get, the more siblings there seems to be. Families were baby making machines back then! (giggle) But be patient and be consistent with documenting your information in that family tree, so you dont research the same person twice! You will find matches that you will just never find out how they connect, and that may be due to an adoption or name change. Records were not kept as accurate then as they are today. This is why WE as researchers today TAKE NOTES. Keep at it and you Will FIND your family member.
One more suggestions I would like to ad, is newspapers.com. I have found so many wedding announcements, obituaries and crime reports that name other family members you may not have know even existed. So be sure to cover all angles. Newspaper articles have been a HUGE resource for my searches. And let's not forget the whole "google it" reference. Try it once and just google your name and location and see what pops up. Or for adoptees, google your birth date, location and the word "adopted". You just never know what may be out there on a world WIDE web!
Hope this helps some of you in your searches. When all else fails.....THERE'S ALWAYS CHAR! 🙂