DNA helpful in finding lineage?

+10 votes
Has anyone been able to discover a completely unknown lineage through DNA testing? I recently took the ancestry test and am anxiously awaiting the results. I did it because my paternal grandfather is a complete unknown, a secret my grandmother carried to her grave, a fact I only discovered last year at the ripe age of 35. Family secrets really can be devastating huh. Anyhoo, I was just curious if anyone else has successfully solved any mysteries like mine.
in The Tree House by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 9 (96.8k points)
Hello Summer,

Do you know a living male with your father's surname?  If so, you should Y-DNA test him.

Y-DNA testing is easier to use and is usually more definitive.

Sincerely, Peter
See that's the problem. His surname was from a man who was not his father, only given to "legitimize " him. That man died 2 weeks before my father was born. He was my grandmothers husband but had been terminally ill and bedridden for over a year. My grandmother said the real father was the brother of a neighbor, and lived in another state. No names.

And...my father has no living males who share his DNA. He has only sisters, no brothers, and I'm his only child. I wish I could get him to take a DNA test but he won't do it. He's convinced the government is using that as a front to keep a national DNA database. Yes, I'm serious. <sigh>

5 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

Hey Summer!

I posted this reply in another DNA thread, but this is relevant here as well.

My #1 recommendation to you (assuming that you haven't done this already) is to go on Facebook and submit a request to join this (closed) group:


This Facebook group, DNA Detectives, specializes on working with people like yourself who want to use DNA genealogy in adoption cases.  The group was started by CeCe Moore, a brilliant genetic genealogist who has had incredible success over the years working with adoptees to use DNA genealogy to find their family history:


CeCe started the group so that adoptees could connect with "search angels" - volunteers who enjoy working with adoptees who want to use genetic genealogy in their family history.  They are a really active group and have an entire methodology that you use to help people who have adoptions in their family tree use genetic genealogy in their research.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Best of luck!


by Ray Jones G2G6 Pilot (164k points)
selected by Mel Lambert
This is amazing, thank you!!!
And that made me cry
Ya - CeCe Moore is amazing.  She taught a week-long DNA genealogy class in Pittsburgh last summer.  She is so passionate about using DNA genealogy to help people who have adoptions in their family trees.  She brings this enthusiasm along with her strong technical knowledge of DNA genealogy.
+1 vote
Found my maternal grandfather through DNA testing, when he had been unknown for the most part! So yes. Very helpful.
by G. Borrero G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
+2 votes
It depends entirely on whether any of your unknown grandfather's family have tested. If your heritage is Colonial US or they have been in the US for a number of generations then you are likely to have some success in finding your lineage. For the rest of us (my gt grandfather is an unknown quantity) with lineage in Europe or anywhere else in the world only time will tell if we are able to break this brick wall. The number of people testing is getting bigger but there are some countries where it is illegal for an individual to have DNA testing done.

Share your DNA results in as many places as possible. If you tested with Ancestry upload your results to FtDNA ($39 I think) and have yourself added to their database. Add yourself to GEDMATCH to get more exposure.

And good luck.
by Rosemary Jones G2G6 Pilot (268k points)
Thanks for the tip!!!  I'm pretty sure the heritage is colonial US, as I've traced back every line I could and they all hail from Europe. Of course there is the unknown grandfather, but I have no reason to believe he'd be any different....but stranger things have happened!!!!
0 votes
Found an adopted unknown cousin through DNA. Her parents adopted her out of family at birth and was unknown to anyone else in the family. She is happy she has a family and we are that we are now connected.

My earlier writings about family discovery

by Lori Cook G2G6 Mach 3 (32.1k points)
edited by Lori Cook
0 votes
I have, both the grandmother and grandfather of a cousin. Her mother was adopted and deceased. It was made easy by the fact my cousins father was still living. He was tested and my cousin was tested.  The father's matches were a control to concentrate on everyone he did not match. The remaining matches from Ancestry using surnames and locations led to the discovery of her both of her grandparents.
by Lance Martin G2G6 Pilot (130k points)

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