Is He Really My Biological Grandfather?

Melanie Mohler

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Is my grandfather really my biological grandfather? Vicky’s DNA test results made her ask this intriguing question. Here are strategies she learned to use her DNA to look for answers.

While looking at her DNA results, Vicky Grover noticed she had no apparent connections on her maternal grandfather’s line. It made her wonder: was her grandfather James really her biological grandfather?

She brought this question to a recent Dive into DNA group coaching event with Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard. During the event, Diahan helped Vicky explore that question using her own DNA test results, while everyone else in the group watched and learned along with them. Here’s a summary of what they did (shared with her permission).

Searching for a biological grandfather

Diahan and Vicky used the Ancestry ThruLines tool to look at best matches from each of Vicky’s great-grandparents, based on her family tree data. Vicky had already sorted and labeled the Best Known Matches for each great-grandparent, except the parents of her maternal grandfather. They then used the Leftover Strategy to find the matches pertaining to this last line, the line in question. Vicky had labeled these leftover matches with a pink dot and made notes.

Through this process, Diahan helped Vicky identify a Best Mystery Match (an unknown match who is related on this mystery branch of the family) and determined the most likely relationship between Vicky and that match. Then…they identified two men who could BE Vicky’s mystery birth grandfather. Yes. You read that right. They did that. DURING the live Dive coaching event!

How to learn these DNA skills yourself

People learn best in different ways. Which one would work best for you right now?

Learn on your own. Vicky’s DNA question required use of a lot of principles from Your DNA Guide–the Book, including checking the genetic relationships of her matches against genealogical relationships; using Best Known Matches; using Ancestry’s dot system and the Notes field to label matches; using the Leftover Strategy to find matches pertaining to an unknown line; and using the Counting Cousins strategy to figure out what kinds of matches will most help answer a question. Get a copy of the book and start teaching yourself.

Learn in a group, with case studies. Our Dive into DNA events are two-hour, online group coaching sessions where Diahan “dives into” DNA case studies submitted by participants. Exploring Vicky’s question during the Dive allowed all participants to learn the same strategies in “real time” and see how they play out with a real question. Join our next Dive–maybe Diahan will answer YOUR question like she did for Vicky!

Learn more and enroll | Dive into DNA

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