Find Your Lost Relatives Using DNA
If you are trying to find your father or lost relative and have little to no information about them then utilising your DNA can really help.
About the authors
My name is David Oates, I am the Head Researcher at Relative Connections, you can view my LinkedIn by clicking here.
I am also the director of the adoption support agency which is regulated by Ofsted. I am a highly regarded and experienced family tracer and intermediary. I have spoken about finding long lost family on BBC Radio 5 and was part of the featured team on BBC1’s Family Finders TV series
In this article John, our DNA specialist talks you through a great example of locating a relative with no information and how taking a DNA test through sites such as Ancestry can help find you the answers you’re looking for.
(the names and elements of the personal descriptions are changed to protect he identity of the parties involved)
Elizabeth came to us looking for her dad, she only had a first name, let’s say it was Peter. Elizabeth told us that her Mum had met him in a nightclub but really the information she had was vague. Her mother could only recall his first name and where he was from but that’s all, they had a very brief relationship and as a result of this Elizabeth was born, this was all some 30+ years ago.
Having only a first name, looking for Peter was like a needle in a haystack. The only way to solve this was through DNA. After Elizabeth called and spoke to Jake, our lead trace consultant, he advised we place her on a DNA tracing service as it’s the best way to get her some closure.
We asked that both the mum and the daughter do a DNA test, because what that does is it allows us to remove all the maternal matches and keep the focus and concentration on the paternal line. Anyone that links to the daughter on the father’s side become a key person of interest, our goal then its to cross reference the matches and build on historical family connections to find a common ancestor.
What this allows us to do it work back (in most cases) to great great grandparents to identify which line is the one that directly connects to Elizabeth’s father then we can build on that to move forwards.
Luckily, in this instance we had quite a close match, it was a second cousin. The person who she matched to also has built a small family tree so we had an idea of how old they were. We managed to then perform a trace to locate them. We contacted them directly to ask for their help to elaborate on their family history, they were able to build on their family tree just enough to provide a link.
We knew Peter would have been probably from London and there were only one side of this woman’s family that were from this area. From that, we were able to build out the family tree. We know roughly how old Peter would be based on Elizabeth’s mums age, and of course we knew roughly where he would be, from a geographical perspective so we worked through the DNA relationships and we come up a match that fit the criteria we knew about Peter.
Through our intermediary service and offering the right reassurance, support and guidance, he agreed to do the DNA test. He said “I don’t remember anyone by the mothers name, but it’s certainly possible I suppose. I did go to that nightclub. I did go out in that area too around that time. I’m not saying, it’s not me, but obviously I’d like to prove it.”
When people come to us they always worry about how people will react and how do we get them to be onboard and take part and take tests.
The truth is, most people just are. If its approached and handled in the right way then people will cooperate and try to help to get people answers in anyway they can and in the rare occasion where we don’t get a response then we will find another way. We’re determined to keep pushing to get you answers.
He agreed to a DNA test and it turns out that he was the father. Interestingly, he himself had only just found out who his father was. He said “It’s was only fair that if I’ve found who my dad is and I could be someone else’s dad that I do the test to prove it one way or another. I’m delighted with the results and so happy to get my daughter answers.”
We have since put them in direct contact with each other and they’re developing and building a relationship at their own pace and are comforted knowing they have our support should they need anything more.
If you find yourself in a similar situation or think you don’t have enough information, trust us, you do.
Everyone is out there and our job is to help you find them, with over 12 years of experience we have developed unique and intricate methods to solving even the most difficult cases.
If you need any help finding your father or any other relative for that matter then just call us and speak to our Trace Consultant Jake on 0113 282 5900 or book a call back here at a time that works best for you.