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I need to know if my maternal grandmother was biologically related to her father.

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  • I need to know if my maternal grandmother was biologically related to her father.

    Hello everyone, it's been a while and I'd like to ask you for advice.

    I am trying to find out if my maternal grandmother is the biological daughter of her father (my maternal great-grandfather).
    There may be a chance that she was adopted and thus not really biologically related to her father.
    Her father had 3 older sons. Thus she had 3 older brothers.

    The problem is that all of them are dead.

    However, my mother is alive and well. She also has a brother. (My maternal uncle)My maternal-grandmother's 3 dead brothers had sons who are alive today. These sons are my mother's maternal cousins. (Males)

    Is there a way to see if my mother is related to these male maternal cousins? If they are related would this mean that my maternal grandmother was a biological daughter of her father?

    If this can be done, what would be the best way to go about testing for this?
    It may be hard for me to even broach the issue with my mother's maternal cousins (Males), and so I may have a hard time collecting saliva samples from them. Is there another option? Such as hair folicle testing. They wouldn't know if I collected that from their hat or pillow etc.
    It is not my style to be so sneaky, but I really want to know the truth.
    Thank you

  • #2
    The short answer to your question is that, if you get your mother and one of her maternal side cousins to provide a DNA sample, FTDNA's Family Finder test would give you the answer. If your maternal grandmother was a biological daughter of her father, her brother's sons would be first cousins to your mother. Family Finder is sensitive and accurate enough to distinguish first cousins from unrelated people.

    However, I wouldn't try to sneak a sample from an unwilling relative. If it became known, it would surely cause problems within the family and possibly even legal problems. Maybe you can enlist your mother to talk to her cousins, since she's probably closer to them than you are.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Hando,

      Stockpile whatever you can while your relatives are alive, for future dna tests. Save hair. What about chewing gum (saliva)? Or old envelopes/stamps (if they licked them)? Hair from a hairbrush? From a pillow sounds good.
      If I knew that these sorts of tests were possible in the future, I would have collected hair.
      If you don't want to risk your mom being treated badly/coldly by her cousins, leave her out of it. You can tell the cousins about YDNA testing and say you want to know the ydna of your maternal greatgrandfather and find more cousins. Ask them if they will take the 23andme test. Then you can also test. They should show up as second cousins to you.
      Good Luck

      Also collect family photos and stories while you can. Of my 8 greatgrandparents, I've seen photos of only 3 of them.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks to both of you. You're right I wont sneak a sample. Rainbow I like your suggestion about asking my mom's male cousins that I want to know the YDN of my maternal great-grandfather. However, we have geneological records of his ancestors, so I need an alternative suggestions to use. Any ideas?

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        • #5
          1) Tell them the truth!!! A sample collected any other way is subject to contamination and the results isn't worth the paper it is written on. If they don't want to help have the courtesy to respect their wishes.

          2) Family Finder can tell you if there is a recent common ancestor but it won't tell you who that ancestor was or the relationship to that person. It is possible it might find one you didn't expect.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jim Barrett View Post
            1) Tell them the truth!!! A sample collected any other way is subject to contamination and the results isn't worth the paper it is written on. If they don't want to help have the courtesy to respect their wishes.

            2) Family Finder can tell you if there is a recent common ancestor but it won't tell you who that ancestor was or the relationship to that person. It is possible it might find one you didn't expect.
            Thanks, but if Family finder "won't tell you who that ancestor was or the relationship to that person" what would you recommend as a better indicator for being cousins? Ie between my mother (or her brother) and their maternal cousin. Ultimately, this will indicate whether my maternal grandmother is the biological daughter of my maternal great grandfather.
            Thanks

            Comment


            • #7
              Another wrinkle

              Do your maternal grandmother and her brothers have the same mother? In other words, do you suspect that your grandmother was adopted by BOTH her parents or only by her (presumably step)father?

              If they all had the same MOTHER, you might not get a definitive result from FF, even if all parties agreed to DNA testing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by GayeSherman View Post
                Do your maternal grandmother and her brothers have the same mother? In other words, do you suspect that your grandmother was adopted by BOTH her parents or only by her (presumably step)father?

                If they all had the same MOTHER, you might not get a definitive result from FF, even if all parties agreed to DNA testing.
                That's a good point. My grandmother and her oldest brother had different mothers. I'm not sure if she shared the same mother as her 2nd and 3rd brothers. But I do know that her first brother and her had different mothers. As for her being the biological daughter or adopted by her father, I had no idea that sharing or not sharing the same mother would make a difference. Now I'm even more confused about what test if at all can help me find my answer.
                Last edited by Hando; 20 August 2010, 11:08 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hando View Post
                  That's a good point. My grandmother and her oldest brother had different mothers. I'm not sure if she shared the same mother as her 2nd and 3rd brothers. But I do know that her first brother and her had different mothers. As for her being the biological daughter or adopted by her father, I had no idea that sharing or not sharing the same mother would make a difference. Now I'm even more confused about what test if at all can help me find my answer.
                  Incidentally, as I mentioned, my grandmother and her oldest brother had different mothers. This oldest brother's son was recently hospitalized for a stroke attack, so my time is short.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How old are you?, Hando.
                    I would use you age, not some speculation before writing a will.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Mothers and Fathers

                      Originally posted by Hando View Post
                      I had no idea that sharing or not sharing the same mother would make a difference. Now I'm even more confused about what test if at all can help me find my answer.
                      Y DNA is a good way to rule out paternity but it only works for male descendants. FF uses all lines. If you can't be sure whether your mother and her cousins had or didn't have the same grandmother, you're not going to be able to determine whether a close/immediate match is because the testees share a grandmother or a grandfather or both.

                      Since the cousins are male, you can't even try a workaround using X chromosomes.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hando View Post
                        Incidentally, as I mentioned, my grandmother and her oldest brother had different mothers. This oldest brother's son was recently hospitalized for a stroke attack, so my time is short.
                        Family Finder can't be relied on to distinguish between full and half relationships (beyond the sibling level), so it would be essential to test the oldest brother's son -- or his children. His children will retain enough DNA to match your mother if they share the common ancestor.

                        This does assume that there is no related male (brothers or cousins) who could have been your grandmother's father.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Hando View Post
                          Incidentally, as I mentioned, my grandmother and her oldest brother had different mothers. This oldest brother's son was recently hospitalized for a stroke attack, so my time is short.
                          Well, an mtDNA test by your mother and her Uncles should suggest if the maternal line is intact or not, showing if your maternal grandmother and her brothers (whichever ones you can get to test at least) all likely had the same mother or not.

                          FF will help determine general relationship (being 1st cousins) and, with enough information MIGHT be useful for narrowing down at least part of the genetic line, but I'm not sure there are any guarantees there for making sure if one one of the parents is not biological but the other is and you may need the assistance of someone who can better help you working through the Chromosome Browser for that.

                          A Y-chromosome test would be useful only in determining the possible general heritage of your great-uncles' father, doing so on your Uncle would only tell you that for your maternal grandfather. Which may or may not be useful to you in making connections up those particular paternal lines.

                          I think that's about all you can get from them for now, but I do think getting samples in to FTDNA would probably be worthwhile since they will store it giving you the chance to do more in-depth testing later. You could always offer to, for example, buy a cheaper test for them now and keep your contact info on their account, if they agree to that, and you could then get a more in-depth test later when yo can afford it or if some new testing method that is more useful pops up later, I would think.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by zarlor View Post
                            Well, an mtDNA test by your mother and her Uncles should suggest if the maternal line is intact or not, showing if your maternal grandmother and her brothers (whichever ones you can get to test at least) all likely had the same mother or not.
                            I believe the problem is that the grandmother and all her brothers are deceased. Testing mother (grandma's daughter) would show grandma's mtDNA but the mtDNA of the brothers would not pass to their sons (the cousins who are testing candidates).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GayeSherman View Post
                              I believe the problem is that the grandmother and all her brothers are deceased. Testing mother (grandma's daughter) would show grandma's mtDNA but the mtDNA of the brothers would not pass to their sons (the cousins who are testing candidates).
                              Oh, you're right. I misread that part.

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