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Newbie question - unknown bio father - figuring it all out

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  • Newbie question - unknown bio father - figuring it all out

    I've read the literature, but I'm still not sure whether I'm understanding everything correctly.

    My biological father was an anonymous sperm donor and I have zero information about him. All I know is that he was white, his blood type and that he was in Vancouver, Canada in June of 1981 for my conception.

    A few people told me this test was a good idea to understand my genetic background and potentially find any paternal relatives. However I've since realized that because the knowledge of my maternal is limited - one mystery great-grandfather and the rest we know until about 1850 - interpreting and filtering my FTDNA results for paternal relatives is difficult.

    I can make a guess of paternal matches based on the surnames I know maternally and the fact my mom is from England .... but it's not definitive.

    So, if I got my mom to take the test and compared our results, I should be able to sort through the 3rd and 4th cousins, correct? Or not ? This is where I get confused, because even though I'm my mother's daughter it doesn't necessarily mean I have 100% of her DNA ... or do I?

    One last question: I have 35 distant family matches. One 3rd cousin, the rest 4th cousins. If I manage to sort the paternal from the maternal ... think it's possible I can crack the mystery of the identity of my biological father? I'd be working down genealogically as opposed to up (as in the past - which is what I think most people do) .. it would be a lot of work and research, but worth a try, no?

  • #2
    FamilyTreeDNA has a Donor Conceived project. Other sites exist that try to link half-siblings from the same donor. Some donors contributed many samples so it may be easier than you think to make a connection.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by livimay View Post
      So, if I got my mom to take the test and compared our results, I should be able to sort through the 3rd and 4th cousins, correct? Or not ?
      Yes, you can see who is not in common with your mother and that will be a "probable" paternal match out to the Distant Relatives category but, just a an FYI, not the Speculative Relatives category.

      Originally posted by livimay View Post
      This is where I get confused, because even though I'm my mother's daughter it doesn't necessarily mean I have 100% of her DNA ... or do I?
      Yes you do. 100% of your maternal DNA is from her. 100% of your paternal DNA is from your father. FF is a comparison of two kits. All of your DNA from your mother will match your mother so that equals 100% in the test's comparison. The part you do not inherit, the other half, is not being compared.

      Originally posted by livimay View Post
      One last question: I have 35 distant family matches. One 3rd cousin, the rest 4th cousins. If I manage to sort the paternal from the maternal ... think it's possible I can crack the mystery of the identity of my biological father? I'd be working down genealogically as opposed to up (as in the past - which is what I think most people do) .. it would be a lot of work and research, but worth a try, no?
      Yes it is possible and it will take some work but certainly it is possible but nothing that will happen overnight. Be perseverant.

      If you want to learn a little more about the mother daughter FF comparison you can see information on this PDF file:
      http://forums.familytreedna.com/atta...7&d=1314932141

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      • #4
        Thanks for the replies!

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        • #5
          One thing I've found helpful is triangulation. Contact your 3rd and 4th cousin matches and see if any of them match each other in addition to you.

          I'm adopted. I know my mother's family (and my half-brother has tested) so my father's family is the focus. Given the matches I'm getting, he was of Colonial American stock, most likely in the South Eastern US. My mother is 100% Ashkenazi so it's fairly easy to separate the two sides.

          I have a 3rd and a 4th cousin match who are 4th cousin matches to each other. They also share a recent surname in their extensive family trees. This is the surname I'm researching with their help. Unfortunately, the great-grandmother who has the surname was adopted, although it looks like she was adopted by family. I've also tied that surname to a speculative cousin (who is a speculative cousin to my 3rd cousin match) and I have a possible connection further back in the same surname.

          I think of it as a 20,000 piece jigsaw puzzle for which I have a few dozen pieces and no picture. Every week or so, I get another few pieces. Some are obviously "sky" (Ashkenazi) and some are obviously "grass" (Colonial American) but exactly how all the "sky" pieces fit together and how all the "grass" pieces fit together is still a mystery.

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          • #6
            You carry 50% of your mother's DNA and 50% of your father's. There is the likely possibility that if you get your mother tested (FamilyFinder) you will see which cousins you and your mother share -- but at a different level of cousins, of course. And no doubt your mother will pick up additional cousins you are not as closely related to and who might not even appear on your own list.

            If I can remember all the details of your post, you are a female. That means you don't carry a Y chromosome from your father so cannot rely on Y chromosome testing to give you his Y DNA haplogroup. (If you had been a male, you would have the same Y DNA haplogroup.)

            A word of advice: Pay very close attention to your cousins' lists of ancestral names. When you start to see names repeated over and over again, that's a good indication cousins themselves are related -- and you have probably come across a "branch" of your family tree.

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            • #7
              I like one poster's analogy of DNA results and a jigsaw puzzle. That's exactly what is going on with all of this. We may not understand immediately the exact family connections, but from the get-go, we can start to sort the pieces of the puzzle into piles of similar pieces. Pay attention to cousins' ancestral names, to communication you get from FamilyFinder cousins, information you glean from the chromosome browser, and keep track of the various ethnicities that come up (from the population finder but also from cousin sources).

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mixedkid View Post
                A word of advice: Pay very close attention to your cousins' lists of ancestral names. When you start to see names repeated over and over again, that's a good indication cousins themselves are related -- and you have probably come across a "branch" of your family tree.

                This is very good advice. I'm wondering how to implement it. Do you pull it down to a spreadsheet? I'd like a better method of doing this that what I'm currently doing.

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                • #9
                  GenomeMate

                  Spreadsheets work, but you might want to look at GenomeMate (just Google it) before you put a lot of effort into a spreadsheet.

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