Finding Birth Grandparents: One Step Closer

Diahan Southard

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Here’s how one person is using DNA + genealogy research to discover the identities of her biological grandparents. She’s faced with a common DNA question: Which daughter in a family was the biological mother?

Recently I’ve been working with Libby in our Coaching Session program. Libby has been seeking the identities of her father’s parents: her biological grandparents. I share this story with Libby’s permission.

Finding biological grandparents

Using DNA to find Birth Grandparents Biological IO.pngWith the prior help of search angels, Libby had already identified possible related lines. She had a strong theory about the identity of her birth grandfather, which she asked me to double-check. I am confident they found the right man. Yay for them!

Next, Libby wanted my help identifying her grandmother. I began using AncestryDNA’s dot system to identify and isolate the DNA matches that most likely connect to her line.

A handful of these matches all trace back to a particular family group. The question became, “Which daughter of this couple is the mother?”

Who was the birth grandmother?

To answer this question, Libby needs to learn whether each of the daughters had descendants, then perhaps explore targeted testing with them. A few of her fairly close DNA matches (without trees) hadn’t answered Libby’s emails. Knowing the identity of these DNA matches could greatly impact our conclusions. I showed her some techniques from my book for finding living people online and sent her off to DO GENEALOGY (that’s how most of my DNA coaching sessions end!).

While doing descendancy research on the couple we had identified as her great grandparents (whose surname starts with “T”), Libby came across a nickname for one of the descendants, “Waller,” and his birth year. Turns out one of her must-identify DNA matches has a username of WallerT47! (Actually, I’m giving you a pseudonym here, but really, he did create a username with his nickname, surname initial and birth year.)

Yay again! This makes one more match we can add to her What Are the Odds? tree to help Libby figure out how she is related to this family. She still doesn’t have a definitive answer. But that’s okay. She is closer.

Next Steps You Can Try, Too

Are you looking for birth relatives? Find out what else your DNA can tell you with our free guide, 3 Things DNA Can Tell You About Your Birth Roots.

Yes! I want that guide!

Keep Learning!

And what about that AncestryDNA dot system I mentioned? Watch this quick tutorial on how YOU can use it to organize your matches into related groups.

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<a href="" target="_self">Diahan Southard</a>

Diahan Southard

As founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard has been teaching people how to find family history answers in their DNA for several years, and she's been in the genetic genealogy field since its infancy. Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, consults with leading testing companies, is author of Your DNA Guide–The Book, and producer of Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience.


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