Countless people have lost relatives. Adoptees have birth parents; but many are hidden due to the closed adoption process and sealed birth records. They may also have siblings, who might even be living nearby.
Divorce, remarriage and infidelity can result in half siblings with no knowledge of each other. Furthermore, many adults are discovering, often accidentally, that the man who raised them is not their biological father.
All this leaves people with unanswered questions about their origins, ethnicity, and inherited medical conditions.
Today, many people believe that knowing your biological roots is a basic human right. Instead of just wondering about lost relatives, they are taking action to find them.
If you have a name, then the Internet can be a great tool for finding people. But unless the person you seek has an unusual last name, it may be impossible to pinpoint the right person. In many cases, you don’t even know the names of your lost relatives. So you need another approach to solving your mystery.
As the cost of DNA testing has come down, a new science called genetic genealogy has developed. For less than a hundred dollars, nearly anyone can uncover hundreds of biological relatives through an “autosomal” DNA test offered by just three companies.
Collectively, more than two million people have taken one or more of these tests. You simply order a home test kit and collect your own DNA by rubbing a swab inside your cheek or spitting into a tube. A few weeks after you mail in your sample, your results will be compared to everyone else in that database. You log into your private account and see all your matches.
Some people get lucky and immediately discover a parent, sibling, or first cousin. This will happen more often as the databases get even bigger.
Most likely, your closest matches will be second or third cousins. Second cousins, for example, share a set of great-grandparents with you. By contacting that person and/or examining a posted family tree, you can then do conventional genealogy research to find the branch of their family that includes you.
Here are the three autosomal DNA tests that can solve your mystery. Since each database is mostly different, you increase your chances of success by testing with all three companies. But you can always start with one and add the others later, if needed.
As a bonus, each test includes an overall breakdown of your ethnic ancestry. Besides being of great personal interest, that information may provide a useful clue in your search.
Each test has a different set of features, advantages and limitations. No one test is always superior to the others. The following links will take you to the individual company web sites where you can learn more and place your order.
Once you have DNA matches to work with, there are many places where you can ask questions and get free help with your search. Here are some of them:
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