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Family Finder Helps Adoptees Find Birth Parents

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  • Family Finder Helps Adoptees Find Birth Parents

    I found my birth father's surname through a Y-DNA test in 2007. Once I figured out who he was, he was already deceased. So I used a DNA sibling test with his son and some cousins to confirm he was the one. But I was lucky.

    Many people have sent me sibling test results that are simply inconclusive. I now tell people to use Family Finder instead. Autosomal testing can also give males and females another way to find clues to their birth families.

    To help other adoptees learn how the Y-DNA test and autosomal DNA tests like Family Finder can aid their search, I have created the following new page on my web site:

    Tracing Birth Parents by Testing Your DNA

    If you hear of any Family Finder success stories for adoptees, please post them in this forum.

    Thanks!
    Richard
    DNA Testing Adviser

  • #2
    I am an adoptee. When I met some of my birth relatives we took paternity and siblingship tests. Not everyone has a bad experience with these tests. I had a very positive experience in fact using the lab GTLDNA.

    I have also tested with Family Finder but not for the purpose of testing a known sibling but to continue other relationship research.

    Choice of testing depends on the needs. Family Finder is meant to provide a list of relatives from a database and yes if you test an alleged sibling with it you will be able to determine if they are related or not. The problem with doing this is the interpretation as someone inexperienced or uneducated in DNA testing may mis-interpret the results. Family Finder in itself will not provide interpretations regarding paternity or siblingship relationships. If there is a desire to continue further queries against a growing database of others, and if the client is comfortable interpreting their results regarding paternity or siblingship, and if the client does not mind a longer wait and larger cost - then yes this is the way to go.

    Paternity and siblingship testing, including the X chromosome tests are designed for the purpose of testing two or three individuals only, against each other not a database, and interpreting the results of such. If there is no desire to continue comparing to others then these tests are generally faster and cheaper. As to accuracy I'll note that including one parent in a siblingship test greatly increases its accuracy.

    The needs determine the test to take. There are options.

    Comment


    • #3
      Still trying to find my Bio Father

      RichardH, you were lucky. I was adopted at birth, 60 years ago, and knew of the adoption from about age 5. My adoptive mother never provided any information regarding my bio parents and lost her memory before I had a real want to ask. She died 5 years ago.

      Last year I was located by my bio-siblings. They were told a lot about me by my bio-mother at an early age. After trying to rapidly putting the possible fathers in place, I have tested Y-DNA37 and matched to the male families of the only two likely fathers. Both were not matches. In the most recent case I have only received the first 12 markers of the other party, but have only a 3/12 match. I think it is safe to rule out that possible father.

      My Y-DNA37 versus the database is not much better; No 25/25; only a couple 24/25 and only 2 33/37's. I have not decided on the Family Finder yet, considering the lack of close matches on Y-DNA.

      Do you think that it would be worth my time and expense in locating my bio-father through FF?

      Comment


      • #4
        I am also looking for my birth father with similar results in yDNA. Some never tested enough markers or the database needs to grow still, or both.

        Recommending FF is good but being adopted, and still searching, and using FF as one of my tools - I can tell you it's going to be a little harder than it sounds. My experience with Family Finder (FF) is there are a few more things working against me than for me. The trick is to change the playing field when you can and know what to expect.

        First - The FF test is new thus the database is small. That will change. Second - Matches I have do not always respond and/or do not list their surnames or GEDCOM. Many, as mentioned in another post, do not provide their GEDCOM anyway. That probably won't change. Third the information my matches have is not always complete. That probably won't change, in fact some of them are also searching for a birth relative too therefore they don't know their lineage. Fourth and most importantly I do not know which of my matches is from my father's vs. my mother's lineage. That I can change. To that end I already ordered a test for my mother but the results are not in. I have a few other yDNA tests and upgrades in too and the name of the game is wait wait wait. Patience is the most difficult of lessons in this case.

        This is the experience - not sales pitch. But I'll say this. None of this is a reason not to test - its just facts. Better to be educated on the reality of it. It's not always an easy go take the test and get instant results. But it might be as that's always a possibility.

        If you take the test you'll be in the system should that instant really occur. Who knows as there is that possibly that unknowingly a sibling you have, or a first cousin, may someday take the FF test and a match will present itself.

        Yes FF is something to consider but without a larger database and the fortune of close matches it may be an investment in finding a future match more than a current one.

        And as for my search, I have someone in mind but he passed away years ago. I'll just have to wait for 3 DNA test results and more FF matches to see if I am heading the right direction or not. It's a long road but it goes somewhere I'm sure.
        Last edited by mkdexter; 8th May 2010, 02:44 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          On the Y-DNA tests we all match. 66 of 67. Still waiting for the Family Finder results. Our trees are also posted on YSearch.
          We did our part to help others.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JPHutchins View Post
            :My Y-DNA37 versus the database is not much better; No 25/25; only a couple 24/25 and only 2 33/37's. I have not decided on the Family Finder yet, considering the lack of close matches on Y-DNA.
            Go for it.

            Stats are misleading 25/25 may mean nothing at 37 and 24/25 may end up being 66/67.. You never know without upgraded tests. Unless you have a ton of the same surnames matching already in yDNA you really need to compare matches to yourself at 37 or 67, not 12 or 25. There's too many variables with 12 or 25.

            FF helps because it increases your pool of names to compare to. Some, though only 1 out of 16 or 32 (close matches), may also match your yDNA lists. Over time as you start compiling more close matches you will see names might start repeating between your matches. If names start repeating make note of them and compare to your yDNA list of matches. Once you start seeing the same name in both tests you'll know who to upgrade.

            Yes it will take time and yes this is a lot of work. I know because I'm doing it myself. I'd rather increase my chances than not. See previous comments too. Just an added thought.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by darroll View Post
              On the Y-DNA tests we all match. 66 of 67. Still waiting for the Family Finder results. Our trees are also posted on YSearch.
              We did our part to help others.
              Now this is a true help! These are the ones who will ultimately help a lot of adoptee searches. Thank you, again, thank you.

              Comment


              • #8
                Still looking

                You are definitely right about 12 and 25 markers not meaning too much. I've tested to 37 and received these matches:

                1100 matches at 12/12

                13 matches at 24/25 (but all of these have tested to at least 37 markers)

                When looking at 37 markers, however, my closest matches are:

                2 at 33/37 so obviously all of those 12/12 matches seperated as more markers were looked at.

                It makes me wonder about the sense in upgrading to 67 markers. Even if the current 33/37 matches hung in there, they would still be 63/67, which does not mean too much in the case of an adoptee.

                I have not even tried to make a GEDCOM as I have no knowledge of my paternal line. I could enter the maternal side, but that is about it. Even in the maternal line, my bio-siblings and I have not tested DNA. But with the infor that they had, there is not a lot of chance of not being related.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am amazed at the number and quality of responses to this post. Thanks to everyone. Here are my thoughts on some of your comments:

                  Y-DNA and Family Finder DNA tests are still a long shot for adoptees. You need luck to get a quick, useful match. But compare that to the zero chance you had before these tests became available. Fortunately, the databases keep growing and your chances of getting that useful match will increase over time.

                  A conventional sibling test can work. It worked for me. But it only checks a small number of markers. You can have possible matches on many of the markers and still get inconclusive results unless some of the common values happen to be rare. If you are checking two males or two females you can improve the results by adding checks of the Y or X chromosomes. And testing additional people can help. If you are checking a male vs. female as possible siblings, I think you are better off with Family Finder. To get the most out of a conventional sibling test see this page:
                  DNA Kinship Testing.

                  As for the Y-DNA test, an upgrade to 67 markers will NOT find any additional matches. It's mostly useful if you have too many close matches at 37 markers and need to determine which ones are closer.

                  Richard
                  DNA Testing Adviser

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I know this is a FTDNA-sponsored forum. And I recommend that adoptees use their Y-DNA test (for males) and Family Finder.

                    But adoptees need all the DNA help they can get. So I suggest you also test with the Ancestry Edition at 23andMe. That tests includes their Relative Finder, which is similar in concept to Family Finder.

                    Most people only test with one or the other. The key relative with the information you need may be in either database.

                    For a detailed comparison see my page on Family Finder vs. Relative Finder.

                    Richard

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This post is cold.
                      Do you work for 23?

                      With all of these other testing companies, all they are doing is making different data bases that are impossible to use for research.

                      Can I take my hundreds of pages of figures and compare it to other companies? Probably not!
                      Talk about divide and conquer.

                      I am not going to go to twenty different companies to have my DNA tested.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Darroll,

                        I did not know that mentioning another company on this site would cause such a harsh reaction. If I broke some kind of rule, I am sorry.

                        To answer your question, NO, I do not work for 23andMe. If you had read the link I included in my message, you would know that I recommend Family Finder over 23andMe for most people, including adoptees.

                        I did not suggest that anyone go to 20 different companies. There are only two companies that offer a massive autosomal DNA test that tests a half million locations. There are only two.

                        Even then, I was not talking to everyone. I merely suggested that one subset of this forum's audience--adoptees--consider testing at both companies. I am an adoptee myself and I've helped hundreds of adoptees understand DNA testing and what it can do for them. We don't have much to work with and I want adoptees to know about all the important options.

                        I was a Beta tester for both Relative Finder and Family Finder and have found both of them to be valuable. ALL of my other DNA tests have been with FTDNA.

                        You are correct that this was an old post. For some reason, my browser always opens to this thread. It must have been how I saved it. But again I did not realize that adding new information to an old post violated any rules.

                        Richard

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RichardH View Post
                          I did not know that mentioning another company on this site would cause such a harsh reaction. If I broke some kind of rule, I am sorry.

                          To answer your question, NO, I do not work for 23andMe. If you had read the link I included in my message, you would know that I recommend Family Finder over 23andMe for most people, including adoptees.
                          Don't take Darroll's criticism of your mention of 23andMe personally. He's well-known here as a self-appointed defender of FTDNA. Any mention of another company is enough to put him in attack mode.

                          He obviously did not bother to read your write-up about Relative Finder and Family Finder. If he had, as you point out, he would have been pleased to find out that a side-by-side comparison of the two autosomal tests caused you to recommend FTDNA over 23andMe.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Female Adoptees Too

                            Yet another adoptee here!

                            Wouldn't it be much easier if the states (and countries) that keep our records safe and secure from us actually let us have them? I'm not asking for much, am I?

                            I was lucky in that I was able to get names for both parents - after 25 years of trying! I've found my mom but her memory is shot and I don't have much other than a name for my father. Of course, lacking a Y chromosome it's hard to find people on his side - until now.

                            My parents have distinctly different ethnic backgrounds so I can pretty much sort my FF matches into "his" and "hers" with only a few that might go either way. I just got my results this week.

                            I do have a question though - how often does FTDNA add matches? Is is continuous (daily) or weekly or what?

                            Thanks!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MMaddi View Post
                              Don't take Darroll's criticism of your mention of 23andMe personally. He's well-known here as a self-appointed defender of FTDNA. Any mention of another company is enough to put him in attack mode.

                              He obviously did not bother to read your write-up about Relative Finder and Family Finder. If he had, as you point out, he would have been pleased to find out that a side-by-side comparison of the two autosomal tests caused you to recommend FTDNA over 23andMe.
                              I get a little tired of seeing advertisments for other testing facilities on this web site.
                              How many FTDNA advertisments are posted on the other DNA testing sites?
                              No-one bothered to answer me so I will try again. If I take my FF results to these other sites can I look for a match? If not, DNA testing will go down the toilet like genealogy has.
                              I don't care about DNA testing, I just do it to help others.
                              We know our family.
                              Like I asked before on this site:
                              Didn't your parents teach you any manners?

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