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Information for Adoptees about DNA Testing


You might be able to identify biological family through DNA testing. Here are a few tips to get started. For detailed instructions on how to turn your DNA cousins into family names, weather you are looking for a father or a 2X great grandfather, see the Breaking Down Brick Walls With DNA quick reference guide.

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Step 1: Get Your DNA Tested

The best place to start is AncestryDNA because they have the largest commercial database. That means you have a greater chance of finding close DNA matches.

Once tested, you can transfer your DNA test results to Family Tree DNA and My Heritage DNA for free.   

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Step 2: Investigate your Match List

The first step in finding names for your biological parents is to evaluate your match list. As soon as you open it, just take a second and realize that everyone on this list is your biological relative. Even if you don't know how you are related, these people are your family.

Start with an evaluation of your best matches: those at the top. First or second cousin matches will often help you identify your grandparents or great grandparents. 

For details on how to use the amount of shared DNA in your analysis, see our Shared cM Project page.

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Step 3: Do Genealogy

If your match doesn't post their chart, you have to go find it. If there are matches that have little or no pedigree, you can research it for them. For more help, you can watch a video on this process by Diahan Southard and Lisa Louise Cooke by subscribing to our Video Tutorial series. In general, you are trying to determine which individuals in their chart are also your ancestors. You then find the descendants of that ancestral couple until you find someone who was in the right place, at the right time, to be your ancestor.

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Step 4: Contact Your Matches

OPTIONAL. Keep in mind: You don't have to contact any of your biological relatives. If you are able to piece together your lineage without their input, perhaps that is enough. If you want to contact them you can by sending them a message through Ancestry's email brokering service.

Please keep in mind that just taking a DNA test does not mean someone is actually interested in finding their biological family.