My activity on a few websites has really amped up in the last few months, and I have been lucky enough to make some matches on my distant relatives generations back. I am still searching for my maternal grandfather.
The hardest part of all of the DNA information out there is when you are a half anything. (Half sister, half cousin, half aunt, etcetera.)
A half sibling is what we all know...where a sibling group of 2 or more only shares one parent. Half cousins, half aunts, half grandparents are the same, we are just not used to seeing those terms. I only have full aunts and uncles on my paternal side. That is so strange to me, I never even understood all of the half relations out there until I was involved in getting DNA testing done in order to find my biological father.
As I have written about before, I am a 3rd generation bastard. My great grandmother was not married to my great grandfather, nor did he stay around to raise my grandmother.
My grandmother had a fling (?) with someone that was not the man I was raised to know as my grandfather. I did not know this until nearly 3 years ago, when I got the results from the DNA lab. I am still sort of shocked about this, but not nearly as much as I used to be.
Finally, I sort of knew, but not in detail, that the man who raised me was not my biological father.
Through DNA, I found my full paternal aunt, which led me to my biological father. I won't go into details, but suffice to say I have aunties and cousins that I did not have before. I don't know my father, but I know who he is. That is sufficient for now. If we never meet, I still have to thank him for half of who I am through DNA.
Now, the search is on for my maternal grandfather. I have no hopes of him being alive at this point, but I would love to know who he is, and possibly see a photo.
I have tested with Ancestry, 23andMe, FTDNA and GenesForGood. I have uploaded to as many places as I can find that do genetic genealogy.
A tip that I would like to share is to write down everything. Yes, you can bookmark, but what happens if the site that you are using goes down? What if the record gets corrupted or pulled? What if any sort of inconvenience or disaster happens? By having it in writing in a dedicated place for your search, you will heighten the chances of not losing valuable research. I write down everything. The complete web address if it is an online search, the complete source if I am at a library or research center. A tip I found once was in a church recipe book. Had I not written it down, I never would have been able to trace back to it and found it to follow up. The drawing/sketch above was made by me to denote a landmark to get to the library I was going to in England. Anything that will help you get your research done is a tool, and I love to doodle. Those doodles have been valuable for me later on, when I was entering information into the computer.
I also make a photocopy or a print of obituary listings. Be aware, though. Obits are valuable, but they are not perfect. Don't treat them as such.
What are some search tips that you have used to help break through the brick walls in your search?
What a world we live in! With a simple saliva sample and some patience, secrets from the past come out and are there for us to examine.
In an article that I wrote in the past, I speak of being a 3rd Generation Bastard. That phrase is offensive to some, but that is not the intent.
I did not know who my biological father was until I had taken a DNA test. Even then, it was not the first or second test that I took, but the 3rd one that would put me on the correct path.
Those tests did illustrate a lot of facts for me and pushed my genealogical research years and decades ahead of where I had been to that point.
If I had to do it all again, I would do it the exact same way that I did it before, because having those time gaps between each test allowed me to process the information, gather more information and make informed decisions that were worthwhile.
One of the best decisions that I made was to get tested. I cannot emphasize that enough.
The first test that I took was with Family Tree DNA. They had a sale going and I got the test. It was a great deal. In recognition of today being DNA Day, they have a sale going again! Click this link to go to their sale price. I don't get a commission, but it IS a great deal. For $49.00, you get the Family Finder test, which will knock down brick walls and get a great start on your DNA genealogy!
There is no monthly, annual or semi-annual subscription, either. A great deal!
The next test that I took was Ancestry. They are the biggest consumer DNA test provider.
Through today, they are offering $69.00 testing. Their service requires a subscription, which is billed at different intervals. If you are interested in getting a test from them while their sale is going on, this is an excellent time to do it. Click here to get to their page.
My third test was through 23 and Me. Now this one, I DO get a commission if you order AND you get a discount. There is no subscription involved, either. Once you click here to get the test, you can always access your information.
I have not yet tested with My Heritage, but they have affordable testing at only $59.00 for the DNA Day celebrations, they are a test I will be taking in the very near future. Click here to order your test kit, too. (No commission, I think that you should test in as many places as you can!)
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Share below in the comments if you have taken a DNA test or if you are planning to! I want to hear what you have to say! Happy DNA day!
This teddy bear in incredibly sentimental to me. A friend got it for me when we went to a sporting event. My dad, every time he would see the bear in my car would ask if my "hippie bear" was having a good time.
This bear is NOT a beanie baby, though he is about the same size.
Ancestry is having a sale until Father's Day, $10.00 off their normal price. Go and check them out and get a few kits if you are planning on doing multiple tests.
Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and check out the questionnaire to ask the men in your life. It will be up before Father's Day, which falls on the 18th of June this year.
In Honor of National DNA Day, 23 and Me is allowing a FREE transfer today only of test results from Ancestry.com. If you have tested with Ancestry and have wondered what 23 and Me has to offer, this is an excellent chance to have a free look!
This expires tonight at midnight. Share! Download from Ancestry and Upload to 23AndMe!
Ancestry rolled out a fun new feature today-Trading Cards. If you have a membership at Ancestry and have taken the DNA test, go and check out the new feature. It is a lot of fun, and I found my 10 year old stepson asking a lot of questions about it and then telling me that he wanted to have his trading card made!
So, for family members that may be reticent to get their DNA testing done, because they want some tangible proof of "What's in it for me?", the Ancestry DNA trading card may be the very thing that gets them on board.
Downside of the trading card? It will only show your top 7 ethnicities. If you have a greater mix, the lesser percentages will not show up. Other downside, the hashtag is My American DNA. I do not know how or if this feature changes in other countries. If you do, please share your trading card image.
Thanks, Ancestry, for bringing this fun feature out! Although the card is listed as being limited edition, I am hoping that they will leave it as a permanent feature!
Share your thoughts!
Since I have been on my search for my paternal biological family, I have been fortunate enough to come across some really lovely people. I have met some of the most helpful people that you could ever want to meet.
I have also met some people who really did not think that I should be following through on finding my biological family.
I would like to comment on that with some cold, hard facts, and probably some raw emotion as well.
I am not a secret. I have never lived as though I were a secret. I am a person. I have thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bleed when I am cut, the same as everyone else.
I am not a secret. What two adults did to get me here was something that I was a result of, not because I was an active consenting person.
I am not a secret. When I am asked for my complete medical history, I can only make a guess at part of my history. Because I don't know.
I am not a secret. When I look at my family, I know that I have traits that belong to my biological parent that I don't know.
I am not a secret. I never agreed to be in hiding so that someone would not have to confront their actions from the past.
I am not a secret. I am not in hiding, nor should I have to be.
I am not demanding a relationship with my biological family, if that is not what they want. But what I am wanting is for them to know that I exist. For them to know that there is someone else in the world who is carrying their genetic line. For them to know that life is messy, that is how we are made. I don't hold any anger or grudges, but I am not a secret.
For United States Readers, Independence Day Celebrations are nearly upon us. Although July 4th falls on a Tuesday, there are some sites that are offering free access to their records!
Here are the details:
American Ancestors is being very generous with their offer of access for a week completely free. All that you have to do is sign up, and you are able to use all of their databases! Expires July 6th, 2017.
Ancestry is offering access to their 13 Colonies database, ending on July 4th.
Go sign up and enjoy looking at the free databases!
Ellis Island Statue of Liberty Genealogy Portal
As always, good luck on your search!
A problem that a lot of people have when trying to reach out and contact their genetic family via Ancestry and other similar sites is that the family members that they are trying to reach out to don't check their accounts very often.
This can be really frustrating for a person who is trying to discover their family.
Here are some tips that I have used to try and find the family that I am looking for. I hope that these will help you, too!
1. Search the username in a google search, in quotation marks. If the user name is ABC123, I will search "ABC123" to see what pulls up. If I don't get a lot of hits or if I get no hits, I will remove the quotes. Sometimes I get a lot of hits. Sometimes, I am still stumped.
If I am lucky, at one of these posts, there will be an email address or a contact me button. I pretty much know that I have the right person if I find posts by that user name in a genealogy forum or page.
The weirdest one that I have ever looked for? One match only, and it was to a toy boat collector in Europe. Sent an email and heard back from him in less than 30 minutes. He had only taken the test to learn what his genetic makeup was. Never bothered to create a family tree or check back to the site. Imagine his surprise when I united him to a very close family relative.
2. Notice if the user name is a person's name. Some people will just use their name. JohnWSmith, for example would help my search, especially if I had an idea of the city and state that they are in. The more unusual the name, the easier this will be.
3. Notice if the user name gives a clue. JohnWSmithGolferNYC would really help you out in your search. The username JWSNYC tells me nothing, unless there are matches on the initial google search.
4. Make notes of what actions that you take as you go. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find the great lead that you had, only to find out that you can't find it.
5. IF you decide to send emails, take the time to create the same email in a word processing file, such as Microsoft Office or Open Office. That way, you can merely copy and paste over and over to all of the contacts that you find.
6. Make notes of all of the emails that you send out, and if you get responses, make notes of them as well.
Good luck on your search!
This weekend has been one of a lot of housecleaning of my online family trees. I have been ruthless in pruning and cutting away family members who are not related to me. I am not talking about in laws or anything like that. I am talking about family members who I used to believe were related to me and I now know that they are not. Although I want to have a full and robust family tree, I need to prune the "bad branches" to make sure that I am not getting false positives.
First cuts to make it? Step parents and adoptive parents. I still love everyone, none of that has changed. I am increasing my odds of my parental family finding me by removing the people that I have no biological relation to.
Someone sent me an email explaining how we were related based on a surname that is of no blood relation to me. I sent a nice email and I am still pruning the tree, hours after I started this process.
I learned a couple of things that I would like to share.
When you download the GEDCOM file with all of the "bad" information, don't rename it and don't meddle with that file. If you make a mistake, that is your master copy, there for you in case you need it. I got a little crazy deleting people and nearly deleted myself at one point.
This is for Ancestry.com Other sites will be different, of course.
So, here is how I have done it. I hope that: 1. This is not confusing. 2. That you are able to follow all of this. Let me know if you have any question either by emailing me or by commenting below.
1. Download your GEDCOM file from Ancestry. To do this, go to the main page, click on TREES, then manage your trees. Go to Tree Settings. On the right hand column, there is a green rectangular box that says "Export tree". It will take several minutes to do, but less than 30 minutes unless servers are busy. leave that page open, you will be using it again in a moment.
2. Once the file is downloaded, create a new tree with a name that will let you know that this is for your DNA tree. I included the words Autosomal in there so that I will know which tree is the one for my research.
3. Upload the file you just downloaded. (I know, this is confusing.) This file is your GEDCOM file. Note that the name of the file will be the same as the tree that you took it from. Don't change the name of the file, because again, if you make an error, you don't want there to be a conflict.
4. Do you have family members that are no biological relation to you? Parents who are not your parents? We will use a parent who is not a parent for my example. (Referred to as a non parental event) Don't delete the parent yet. Save yourself some aggravation. Go back on their timeline as far as you can go. All the way back as many generations as there are. Start deleting people that are not related to you all the way back there. Don't forget spouses and children of these genetic non parents! Otherwise you will be forever cleaning up!
5. Remove all of the people that need removed. It may take a while, but be patient.
Now, go back and edit any relationships that may be mis-listed. Change siblings to half siblings and things like that. Ancestry has a setting for step parents, but I removed any and all similar ties because I was still having people contact me in reference to having a match to me.
6. When you are done, if you would like, you can download the GEDCOM file, which should show up with the name of the new family tree that you created. You can then use that new GEDCOM file to upload to any of the places online that host a family tree.
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com