Which further DNA testing should the following group have?

+4 votes
I have an adopted cousin. I was able to locate her birth mother but she was unwilling to meet. The birth mother's brother however provided info after the passing of the birth mother. From his information she learned she has two half-brothers.

My cousin also did her DNA at Ancestry and from that located a half-sister.

1. The half brothers never met their father. The name listed as father on their California birth certificates is James Rose. The don't believe this is real. Should one of them do the yDNA test? What company?

2. The half sisters have both done autosomal testing. Anything further they should do? My cousin's original birth certificate has no name listed for father. Anything she can do to find out who he might be?

Thanks for the assistance! I didn't want them to spend money doing the wrong things since they don't have much.
in Genealogy Help by Nancy Thomas G2G6 Pilot (219k points)
I did 23andme, ancestry, FTDNA y-37 , and Gedmatch. Found clues everywhere. Y-37 i didnt understand. What helped me on both 23andme and ancestry, if a persons profile is private, you can still see matches, you have with other people. You can get a sense of triangulation. If you opt for the ancestry tree builder, they put you in Family circles. People you share DNA with that also share same grandparents. It was a shocker for me. My Largest family circle has 100 people that i share a 4th great-granparent. They were Mormon Pioneers and most of the DNA matches are Mormons. They are very clannish people, i dont bother contacting them. It was an interesting discovery however. Also I discovered John Alex Rose as a grandfather, killed in Texas, at border of Mexico.

4 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
I have to support Rob's advice here. I've been searching for my father's birth father for several years now and have done autosomal DNA testing for myself, my mother and my sister and I've also done yDNA for myself and mtDNA for my Mom. In all honesty the yDNA (Y37) (and the mtDNA) tests have provided little if any useful genealogical information. The yDNA test basically confirmed that my paternal grandfather was of Scots/Irish paternal descent, something that was fairly clear from the auDNA tests already. Unless you go with the higher STR count test (y67 or y111) or BigY (Big$$$) the tests just don't provide much information in a genealogical time frame and are much better suited to determining deep ancestral roots. Even if you can afford the more expensive tests it's still highly unlikely that you will find close matches since very few other people have taken them. It certainly won't hurt to do a yDNA test (other than your wallet) but it probably won't help much either.

If cost is a concern, my suggestion would be to wait for a sale at Ancestry and have the two half brothers test there (au is all they do). If funds are available you might also have the birth mother's brother test as well to help discern between her parents. Then download the results and upload them to GEDmatch, MyHeritage and FTDNA. If you have reasonably close matches at FTDNA that aren't on the other sites it's probably worth the $19 to get the chromosome browser. If you're reasonably good with a spreadsheet you can then download the by chromosome match results from all three sites (MyHeritage and FTDNA will create a CSV file for you, GEDmatch is either a manual process or you can pay them $10 and use their triangulation tool) and put them all in one spreadsheet so you can build your potential triangulation groups across the three sites.

I'm guessing that your cousin's half sister shares her father since there was no mention of her from her mother's brother? If so, those who match the two half sisters and neither of the two half brothers are likely (but not necessarily) related to her father. Those who match your cousin and either or both of her half brothers are likely on her mothers side. There are always exceptions but these general rules should help sort out the results to some extent.

Of course if you have the mother's brother's results, anyone who matches him is likely on her mother's side (but remember those that don't are not necessarily on her father's side). Every little bit helps. Now find the largest matches most likely to be through her father, build your triangulation groups and go searching for common ancestors among the members of the groups. Be patient and reach out to matches.
by Paul Chisarik G2G6 Mach 3 (34.8k points)
selected by Laura Bozzay

Just to clarify, I'm assuming that the two half brothers are sons of your cousins mother since they were brought to your attention by her mother's brother? If so, then they have a different father, in which case the only thing a yDNA test for them would accomplish is helping to determine their father not your cousin's.

Also, if your cousin's half sister shares her father it could also help if her mother is available for auDNA testing as this would help eliminate matches through her mother.

Good news is that you could have all four people (two half brothers, mother's brother and half sister's mother) auDNA tested for less than the cost of a single Y67 DNA test.

I agree that the best overall test that gets both the mother and father branches data is autosomal.  You have many bigger ponds to fish I so to speak with autosomal testing.  

As an Adoption Angel here on WikiTree we recommend autosomal first.  We also think you should upload your raw data to as many groups as possible and GedMatch.com has data from Ancestry, FTDNA,, 23 and me and others.  And it provided reporting down to the chromosome level which is what you need for actual DNA matching.
+3 votes
It wouldn't hurt to do a Y-DNA test. The only company that actually offers them as far as I'm aware of is family tree DNA. I couldn't say which one to do though - you get more accuracy by testing more markers, but it's more expensive.

As far as the half sisters, they could do a mitochondrial DNA test (also through FTDNA), but given that a) they are already aware of their birth mother, and b) they'd be looking for fairly recent relationships, I don't think it would be all that useful.
by John Trotter G2G6 Mach 4 (43.4k points)
Thanks for the confirmation John!
+6 votes
Nancy, I would stick with autosomal tests.  Remember that for testing to work, you have to have others tested too, and be able to compare with them.  If the brothers take a test that no one else has taken, they can't compare.  All they can do is learn what broad yDNA haplogroup they are, and gain some knowledge of their STR values, which may be useful *someday*, when someone else related to them has tested.  Also, yDNA is more useful for deep ancestry, almost never useful for matching someone.  It can almost never determine precise relationships, just inform you (once both have taken the more expensive yDNA tests) if you share a male relationship, through fathers, their brothers, their grandfathers and grand uncles, etc.  The one thing it's very good at is to *reject* a potential relationship - if their high level yDNA haplogroups don't match, then they aren't related within tens of thousands of years (at least not through the paternal line).

Autosomal tests are very good when it comes to close relationships.  The closer the relationship the better the confirmation that a DNA test can provide.  And you already have autosomal tests for comparison with others.  Plus, it's much cheaper to get others to take an autosomal test, especially if you or they buy them during the annual DNA test sales.

It's true that FamilyTree DNA provides the most complete set of yDNA tests, but you can also get a fairly good yDNA haplogroup from both the 23&Me test and the Living DNA tests.  Their tests cost a few bucks more, but they include autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y chromosome tests if you're a male, in one package.
by Rob Jacobson G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
+2 votes
I recommend a Y-DNA test for one of the brothers you/they can afford it. Assuming that some male from the paternal lineage has done a test, this should identify the paternal line even if  their father himself has not taken the test.  They should take the test at a test facility where the most males have done Y-DNA tests and I believe this would be at Family Tree DNA. You have the same issue with autosomal testing.  If you just do a test at a single test facility, you could miss a match at the other facilities.  If they opt to not do a Y-DNA test, then the next best thing is to upload the autosomal test results to GEDmatch and hope for the best. Note also that you can upload autosomal test results from both Ancestry and 23andMe to FTDNA at no charge.


Good luck,


by Billy Huff G2G3 (3.7k points)
You can also upload raw dna to MyHeritage. Ftdna isn't  very useful to upload to unless you pay the 19 dollars for family finder. I did the Ancestry dna and uploaded raw dna to Ftdna, gedmatch, MyHeritage and 23 and me while they were allowing it. You cant see matches with 23 and me unless you purchase their test. It just gives you a regions chromosome browser and ethnicity percentages. The regions chromosome browser is pretty neat if you do dna painting because you can kind of pinpoint what region falls under each segment. So If you know you have got chr 1 section that is your father's dna contribution and it falls under irish, Then you know your father has Irish blood and anyone else that falls there is related and does too. Not much help when it comes to finding relatives though for adoption cases. DNA painter can be helpful. It allows you to copy and paste related people matching chromosome browser segments  to see who matches where. It can be broken down into maternal and paternal and color coded for common ancestors. Its a more indepth Study, but may be useful pinpointing relatives and maybe a common ancestor or surname.
Misty, some good points.  The bottom line is that if you can afford it, you should fish in every pond so to speak since you cannot know in advance where your possible relative(s) have tested. If you are a male, you really should do a Y-DNA test first, not to find out your haplogroup but to obtain matches. The Haplogroup is way too broad. Even when you find close matches (autosomal or Y-DNA), they may not have listed their family tree and also may not repond to email requests. So, there is no guarantee but it is the best we have.



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