Ancestry DNA testing
April 25, 2018 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Looking for reviews of Ancestry's DNA test, specifically focused on finding relatives.

I'm an adoptee hoping to find some biological relatives. I've already tested my DNA at 23andMe, and uploaded my data to GedMatch as well. Unfortunately, Ancestry doesn't allow uploading of your own data. They are having a sale for DNA Day, and the test is down to $59 for a few more days. Has anyone taken this test and found it to be helpful? I'm not so much interested in my ethnicity breakdown, just wondering if Ancestry's larger user base would help with my search, especially considering the subscription required on their site.

Thanks!
posted by cozenedindigo to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have personal experience with this, but my understanding is that people who are on Ancestry are there because they want to find family too, so at a minimum, if you did find any relatives, there is a greater likelihood they'd be open to connecting.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:56 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who is also adopted and she got some very valuable info from her Ancestry results, including familial matches, to the point that she has contacted people who seem to be her actual relatives.

I am not adopted but I have taken the Ancestry test and it did match me to a relative, the only one I know of who's actually taken it—my first cousin's child. So it works, for sure. I haven't paid for a subscription, which is where I think you probably get the most value. This was just what I found out right when I got my results back several years ago.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2018


I am not adopted, but I did the Ancestry DNA test earlier this year and got some really close matches; lots of first and second cousins, and 1 uncle. My mother took the test a few years back and it directly matched her as my mother, no question. I think this is a huge advantage to you and you'll get somewhere with it.

Have you ever seen the show Long Lost Family? They often use AncestryDNA testing to help find long lost relatives for adoptees and people who places children for adoption also.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 9:06 AM on April 25, 2018


I know two people who found half-siblings their parents had kept secret on Ancestry. When you sign up, they give you a choice of whether you want to know about relatives, so people who don't want to be contacted can opt out. Not everyone on Ancestry wants to find relatives. I signed up for Ancestry, and I thought seriously about opting out because there's a side of the family I want nothing to do with. I chose Ancestry over 23andme for other reasons.
posted by FencingGal at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2018


I myself have had minimal luck finding anything other than 4th cousins or beyond, but there are still a few promising links to parts of my family that I've been hoping to get in touch with.

One of my relatives did find a half-sibling through the site, and was able to get in touch.

The catch is, are your relatives going to hang around and be active on the genealogy part of the site or even see/respond to email alerts if they come in? Lots of people just get the DNA test, go 'hmm that's neat' and move on.

I have several people that I've left messages for, hoping to get in contact, but they haven't been back to the site in months or longer.

It really depends on their usage style and investment in it, too.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:13 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have done lots of genealogy work, and IMHO it will be quite long odds to find your blood relatives through DNA testing. Of course the greater the number of sites you are active on increases your odds, and with the DNA it should at least be interesting to find your ancestral roots. You can have a free account at Ancestry and build a public tree with as much information as you have. Best luck!
posted by ArnoldLayne at 9:21 AM on April 25, 2018


Ancestry matched some uncles and aunts that have also used the DNA service for me. I knew about them already, but the DNA matching does work. And I've traded a couple of messages with 4th and 5th cousins that surfaced from the DNA matching. Still waiting for it to prove I'm royalty though :)

My subscription lapsed last year sometime and I still get the updates about matches. I just can't contact anybody through the site without being a subscriber.
posted by COD at 9:44 AM on April 25, 2018


I'd say go for it.

I've tested for genealogy reasons at 23andMe and Ancestry (and transferred to Gedmatch). I do have a family member who does not know anything about one of their parents. Through Ancestry, they'll use DNA and other users' family trees to put you into "DNA Circles" - this helped a huge deal. We noticed that they were suddenly in two DNA circles of ancestors we'd never heard of. It took a lot of math and contacting strangers, but we think we narrowed down who the person's parent is.

Everyone is right, the problem is some people take the test and never come back to read their messages, but you never know. I think it's best to test everywhere you can.
posted by jdl at 9:47 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've met several second cousins and become fairly close to one via Ancestry.

From time to time I get emails from adoptees who match me, but they tend to be fourth cousins or more distant. I send them a list of my x-great grandparents, which is really all I can do. Most of the surnames are pretty common, although some first names are pretty unusal, but it can't hurt.
posted by jgirl at 10:03 AM on April 25, 2018


It might be worth a shot. I'm in a similar situation, and so far my previously-unknown close relatives have shown up in exact equal measure on 23 and Me, GedMatch, and Ancestry - with the extended biological relatives on Ancestry being the most open to discussing family trees and filling in gaps.
posted by northernish at 10:25 AM on April 25, 2018


My mom matches as my mom through Ancestry. My grandma matches as my first cousin. However, it did help me find a branch of the family I thought was lost forever and confirm that my grandmother is NOT her father's stepdaughter (as was recorded in the 1930 census, which would have put our tribal status in question) but actually his biological daughter. I think for $59 it's pretty worth it. And if you want some help from a random MeFite, I'm really good at researching stuff and am totally willing to assist, if you'd like. Just MeMail me.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:27 AM on April 25, 2018


I did the Ancestor test but am not active right now. Just last week, though, I got a message from my maternal grandfather's sister's son (ha), which makes him my—let's see now—2d cousin 3x removed(?) or whatever. Anyhow, I recognized his mother's name right away, and messaged him back. We may be getting together soon. So, that's interesting. I may go active again soon, just for the fun of it.
posted by MovableBookLady at 10:40 AM on April 25, 2018


A friend's biological father was a sperm donor, and he didn't know about it at all until he found a number of predicted half siblings on Ancestry DNA, and was able to unravel the mystery using the site. He has found 7 half siblings so far through a combination of Ancestry DNA and 23andme. I'd say it definitely works, at least for close relations.
posted by zsazsa at 11:27 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Personal anecdote. My partner is black, and for Christmas I got her an AncestryDNA test so she could determine her African ancestry (she tried the genealogy route years before she met me and reached a dead end with a sale at a plantation that she couldn't find the other side of).

After we discovered (unsurprisingly) that she had ancestors from all over the western coast of Africa, we checked the possible relatives section. And her cousin was at the top of the list.

So yup, it definitely matches people up with relatives pretty well, assuming the people are in their database of course.
posted by sotonohito at 12:03 PM on April 25, 2018


I’m an adoptee too. I did the ancestry dna test a year or so ago when they ran a sale. I’ve connected w/a person who is probably a 2nd cousin. There are facebook groups that can help you once you have a few connections, to find more. Haven’t done that but they are eager to help if you do take the test. I haven’t dug in too much but there seems to be the possiblity for me to get closer to finding identifying info, at least thats what the nice folks in adoption groups I’m in told me.

Side note-if you do connect w/relatives, don’t tell them you’re adopted, it can get you blocked from more info if the person you connect w/is a jerk. The fb groups if you join one, can help you on how to handle that. Good luck!
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 12:22 PM on April 25, 2018


The genetic genealogists I know encourage adoptees especially to “fish in all the ponds,” and the size of Ancestry’s DNA users database is a major plus.
posted by percolatrix at 12:47 PM on April 25, 2018


Thanks everyone! I've decided to go for it.
posted by cozenedindigo at 1:01 PM on April 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


You can also download your results from Ancestry and then upload for free to FamilyTreeDna which has a different set of people on board. Warning - if your background includes Ashekenazi Jews, you will have a gajillion second-fourth cousins on FamilyTree DNA, not so many on Ancestry. Apparently European Jews intermarried enough that you get contributions from different common ancestors that makes you look more closely related than you are.
posted by metahawk at 3:03 PM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was able to verify that the person claiming to be my older half-sister was indeed my half-sister. I have a friend who was adopted, who was able to make contact with her birth family beginning with information from AncestryDNA.
posted by tamitang at 9:27 PM on April 25, 2018


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