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July 5, 2019

Finding a Birth Father

Nancy C. asked Olive Tree Genealogy for advice:

My father, who is now 82 years old, has never known who his father was.  The secret died with his Mother.  I so want to help him in this search.  He doesn’t expect or want anything from the man’s family, he just wants to know who the man was. 
Both my father and I did a 23 and me test.  The results seem overwhelming.  I’ve made contact with a few distant cousins, but have found no answers yet.  Can you advise me as to what to do?

I hope you do find your paternal grandfather, but the task will not be easy. It's good that you took DNA tests and all I can tell you is that with any luck you may eventually find a close match to your father. However note that I said "may eventually". It could take days, weeks, months, or even years. You may not find one. So my advice is keep checking your matches, and contact every match that is fairly close.

Meantime, make notes of every detail of your grandmother's life around the time she would have been pregnant with your father. Whoever the father is, he had to have some contact with your grandmother, so would have been somewhere in the area. These are a few of the questions I would want to find the answers to if possible:
  1. What churches did she attend? 
  2. Where did she work? 
  3. Was she still in school? 
  4. Who were her teachers and classmates? 
  5. Where did she live and what social functions were available to her? 
  6. Who were her neighbours?
When your DNA matches come in, perhaps you will see a familiar surname, or you'll find your dad matches to a descendant of a man who was living near your grandmother. It can be that easy if you are lucky.

Other ideas are for you to trace your mother's siblings down to someone you can ask about this. You never know what tidbit of gossip comes down in a side branch of a family. A sibling (a sister perhaps) might have known who the father was and might have whispered it to her daughter....

We had such a rumour come down in my husband's family over the paternity of his grandfather. And that whispered rumour told behind closed doors was overheard by my husband when he was a young teen. He never forgot it. And it turned out to be true. We proved it through DNA.

Meantime, please take a look at how we discovered my husband's biological great-grandfather through DNA testing, in my article DNA Results Leave us Gob-Smacked! 

Good luck in your quest!


antiquebookworm said...

Increase your chances in finding a close match by uploading your 23andme raw DNA to FamiytreeDNA and MyHeritageDNA. Also, both sites have better tools to make sense of your matches.

goneresearching said...

Nancy should check out the various resources listed at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy ISOGG and the DNA Adoption website

Also the advice most give is to test in as many places as your are able because you never know where that match you seek has tested. AncestryDNA has the largest number of tested persons and is good place to start.

MyHeritageDNA is more international and accepts data transfers for a small fee. FamilyTreeDNA also accepts data transfers for a fee. Data transfers cost a lot less than testing directly at each place.

Linda said...

Nancy and her father should test at ancestry also, if she hasn't - they have a larger database. The facebook group DNA detectives may be helpful for her to join, it is composed of people looking for family via DNA testing and those who are interested in it.

leeanneD said...

Found my 1st cousin with DNA. My Aunt told me a few years before that she passed that she had a baby she put up for adoption, but the records were sealed and no one would ever know. He has found the sir name of his birth father, but are trying to prove who it is. We have the family, but nothing further. I am trying to help him as genealogy is my passion. Leeanne

RonNasty said...

I was contacted through Ancestry by the daughter of a woman in a similar circumstance. She tested her mother's DNA and we are flagged as first or second cousins. Based on her mother's early memories, she is most likely related to my grandfather or one of his brothers. I wish I could help more, but I don't have any contact with any of the brothers offspring, but a DNA test from them would be extremely helpful.

Is there anything I can do to help her?

Anonymous said...

Nancy should also have her dad take a Y-DNA test through Family Tree DNA. This test is specific to the male surname line, whereas autosomal DNA (from 23 and Me and other companies) samples from throughout a person's inherited DNA. I would recommend nothing less than Y-67, even though this test is more expensive, it is also more useful for pinpointing the male surname. It has helped me break open several blocked lines. Happy hunting, Lee

From the Family Tree DNA web site:

Y-DNA67: The Y-DNA67 test includes a balanced panel of sixty-seven Y-DNA STR markers, those from the Y-DNA37 plus thirty more. The additional markers refine the predicted time period in which two individuals are related and eliminate unrelated matches. A perfect match at sixty-seven markers indicates a common ancestor in recent generations. This is the ideal test for matching if a break in the paper trail, such as an adoption, is known or suspected.