Can I use an ancestry DNA test to find my father?

Can I use an ancestry DNA test to find my father?

Can I use an ancestry DNA test to find my father?

Every week, there are stories of people finding lost family members, or discovering that their biological parents are not who they thought they were – or even that their biological father is a rogue fertility doctor.

With all these stories of hope and heartbreak, you may be wondering how you can use an ancestry DNA test to find a lost parent or other family member. Odds are that whichever test you choose to take, you will probably have some relatives in the database, even if the closest are only third or fourth cousins. It may be that you have to take multiple ancestry tests in order to find family more closely related to you, or upload your DNA data file elsewhere.

This guide will help you figure out which ancestry test is best for you, and how you can trace an unknown father or missing family member, even if they aren’t in the database you choose.

First things first: which ancestry test should I take?

When it comes to picking an ancestry DNA test to find relatives, what you really want to think about are numbers. Each ancestry testing company has their own database of users, and these databases do not overlap. For instance, if someone has taken a DNA test with AncestryDNA, then they will not show up in the 23andMe family finder feature unless they have also taken this test.

Current database sizes for the major ancestry companies are:

Given the sizes of the databases, you are most likely to find a missing family member – or a clue to your missing family member – in the AncestryDNA or 23andMe databases, since these are the largest. If you can’t decide between these two, we have published an article comparing 23andMe and AncestryDNA.

I already took an ancestry test with one company, but couldn’t find any relatives

Buying multiple ancestry DNA tests can get pricey. If you don’t have any luck finding your relatives in one ancestry database, then before you buy another test it might be a good idea to upload your raw DNA data file (which you can download from most providers) to GEDmatch, a free online database that allows genetic relatives to connect with each other.

If you can’t find any relatives that are close enough to help you on GEDmatch, then it might be worth purchasing another ancestry DNA test.

Also, bear in mind that more and more people are purchasing ancestry DNA tests all the time. If you don’t find any relatives immediately, it is worth allowing yourself to be visible in the family finder database, and switch on notifications so that you will be emailed with any new matches or messages. It might be a long waiting game, so don’t give up hope!

Can I find my father through my other relatives?

Even if you don’t manage to find your missing father, sister, or other relative in the ancestry database(s) you look in, you will often find you have a number of cousin matches. If you connect with a first cousin or an aunt, then you may be led quite easily to your lost parent.

Many people, however, will only have distant relatives in the database: second, third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth cousins. Though these are only distant relations, it is still possible for you to track down a missing father using cousin matches, especially if they are willing to help you.

Filtering by mother's or father's side on 23andMe

Filtering by mother’s or father’s side on 23andMe

First, if it is your father you are looking for, you will want to work out which of your DNA matches are on your father’s side. This is easiest if your mother has also taken an ancestry test with the same company as you. For instance, with 23andMe’s DNA Relatives feature, if you have connected with your mother (or another relative related to your mother and not your father) you can filter your DNA matches to show only relatives on your father’s side of the family.

If your mother or maternal relative is not able or willing to take an ancestry test, then you will need to work out how your cousin matches are related to you through your shared matches. Asking your cousin matches what they know about their parents and grandparents will also allow you to rule out more distant relatives on your mother’s side, and to find a common ancestor on your father’s side.

If you are on Ancestry.com, then you will be able to view the family trees of your relatives, assuming they’re willing to share them. In order to use Ancestry’s genealogical features, you will need to either pay for a subscription, or take advantage of a free trial.

If you can find a relative on any site who has a link to their family tree, this will help to show how you are related to them, and might provide clues about your other relations.

Once you find a shared ancestor – a great-grandparent, for example – with one of your genetic matches, you can start to establish a family tree, working out who the descendants are of that ancestor and how they relate to you. You may have to contact your cousin matches to ask questions, and should try to do this as sensitively as possible, bearing in mind that they might not know how they are related to you or anyone in your immediate family. This will help you narrow down your missing father’s family, until you find his parents, siblings, and finally your father himself.

Can an ancestry DNA test prove paternity?

Once you’ve found your father in an ancestry database, or tracked him down through your shared relatives, you may wonder how valid your findings are, and whether an ancestry test really counts as proof of paternity.

Technically, an ancestry test is not recognized as legal proof of paternity. In order to truly prove paternity, you’d need to take a paternity test. Of course, it may be that if you’ve had to piece together your family tree yourself, you might have hit a wrong turn somewhere, and so it might be worth taking a paternity test with your suspected father, if only for peace of mind purposes.

If you have matched directly with your father (or his sister, or your half-sibling, etc.) through an ancestry DNA service, then you can be fairly confident that he is your father, unless you’ve stumbled across his identical twin. Still, one or both of you may not consider an ancestry test as definitive proof of paternity, and so you may want to take a paternity test together.

When purchasing a paternity test, you are usually given two options: either a peace-of-mind test, or a legal test. Legal paternity tests can be used in legal proceedings (such as changing the name on a birth certificate). Peace-of-mind tests do not require that the parties be observed taking the DNA samples, and so are only for private information and are not legally admissible.

And… if I still don’t get anywhere?

If you are still unable to find your unknown parent or family member, then you might want to think about reaching out to a genetic genealogist. Genetic genealogists use a combination of genetics and more traditional family tree mapping in order to work out your family connections. Often, they are experts in using genetic matches, birth, death, marriage and adoption records, and social media to fill in gaps in family trees and establish connections between biological relatives.

Each genetic genealogist will come at their own price, so you’ll want to think about how much you’re willing to spend. Ancestry.com has their own AncestryProGenealogists service, and offers free estimates on how much it may cost to have one of their genetic genealogists find your missing family member. Bear in mind that finding missing family can be very difficult and time-consuming, and that the price tag may reflect this.

I’ve found my biological parent – now what?

Once you’ve discovered your missing parent, it might be daunting to get in touch with them. You may also discover more family members than you initially bargained for, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, and half-siblings.

You should bear in mind that until you contact them, you won’t know what their family dynamics are, or how open they are to receiving new family members. It’s a good idea to think about what you hope you’ll get out of the new relationship – if you manage to establish one – and how it will impact you if your attempts to make contact are rebuffed. You should be prepared for the possibility that your biological parent may not know of your existence, or may not want to be contacted.

Still, even if you fail to establish a relationship with your birth parent, you may find an aunt, uncle or half-sibling who wants to make contact and get to know you. Again, unless you get lucky and find a close family member in the database, finding your birth family could be a long process. But it will hopefully prove rewarding in the end.

Sharon

March 16, 2019

My husband done a DNA test along with our daughter in hope of maybe finding something out about his father that he’s mother will not say anything about him and as he would now be in his 80s may not even be alive , but still he’s was hoping that maybe he could find a family member . He 1st cousin has her DNA done as well and came back as 639cmM on ancestry then there 2nd cousin on his maternal side .
My problem is all the others seem to be on his maternal side or if not a share with his 1st cousin there are with his 3rd and I not reading it right
I just can’t seem to break it down and find my thing to do with his fathers line ; he’s mother is from Italian descent & his father is Greek descent but his DNA saying 75 % Italian & 20% Eastern Europe and Russia.
Is anyone able to help
Sharon
.

Diane McConkey

March 23, 2019

I am doing research for my brother in law who doesn’t know who his father is. He had a dna test done through ancestry and several close cousins appeared. I’ve communicated with many of the close cousins but no response from others and we are no further ahead. Can you help.
Thank you

Miss Norma

April 23, 2019

My son is 29 years old. We don’t know if his father is dead or alive. What DNA test is best for us.

Gwen

April 25, 2019

I know who my daughter’s father is without a doubt, but she has gone on some ancestry site, and telling me, that he is not her father! She said she found a cousin, also a grandmother they share! How is this possible? I know for a fact, one hundred percent who her father is! And I she’s telling me he is not!

Rosa Elena

April 26, 2019

I got my results from MyHeritage but it does not show any relatives. I don’t know my biological father but I was hoping to find some, any information. I’m willing to take another test, which company should I use?

Sharon

April 29, 2019

I had DNA testing by Ancestry, in hopes that the people I thought were half siblings indeed were. They are not. I am trying to find my biological father, who I am certain is deceased. I have a close DNA match with another man who is also trying to find out who his father is. We have one person in common who has not been very forthcoming. How should I proceed?

Alison

May 7, 2019

I’m a 13 year old girl,I just found out that my father is not actually my biological father, he has been pretending to be my biological father but he’s not! I want to meet my real biological father but I don’t know if he is still dead or alive.I have never met him but I want to!!! I don’t have any information about him at all,all I know is his first name.Somebody please help me.Please,I’m desperate….

Kathy Green

May 29, 2019

Hello everyone, my mother died when I was 17 years old and never told me who my real father was . I took Anscetry dna and fould several blood cousins….I put my story out to them and everyone help me pick through the possibilities….my sister spent hours researching for me . I finely found a possible half brother on Facebook and I got the nerve to talk to him .He asked questions and I answered as much as I could .I asked him if he would take the test and he did ….and we matched …he matched with more DNA then my sister I grew up with ….now I have my answer to who my father is and he has also submitted a test ….53 years of not knowing …has been answered ….thank you for reading my story …..never give up hope …its out there

Shelly J Omasta

June 3, 2019

I’m in the same situation as many of you. I found out my dad isn’t my bio dad. I connect back to 5 people 4th-6th cousins in my biofathers side. I have contacted all of them and none of them can help me to get closer. So, like many of you, I’m waiting and check often to see if someone new has done a DNA.
Shelly
MD

Lauren

June 8, 2019

Can I find my biological dad thru the DNA of my oldest son??

Kathy Duarte

June 12, 2019

I have ancestry dna I found a few second and third cousins . So close yet the won’t talk to me. I have text them ancestry and no answer. They know my biological father through their family tree. Please I am begging please help me. How cruel can they be to just ignore me.

Susy Mae

June 17, 2019

I was pregnant and did not know it for 2 months 13 yrs later DNA test show that he is not the father of my child ,I briefly think back to try to recall name what can I do please

Ciara mcgeoghan

June 25, 2019

Looking for my father his from northern Ireland as far as I know .. my mother will not tell me who he is .. I want t know him meet him I need closure..

Rick

July 1, 2019

My mother took the test and found a 1st cousin. We spoke to them and found out the relative they shared was my mother’s unknown biological father. He lived a block from where my mother grew up and left by joining the Army. He never contact her when he was living and those people that knew the truth took it to their graves. My mother also confirmed who her maternal grandfather was through DNA testing. As you can tell men didn’t stick around on my mothers side. Fortunately my mother was adopted in to a great family that broke the cycle of abandonment.

Deb

July 14, 2019

Recently had an NPE pop upon my relative list. Only showing relationship to 6 immediate family members… showing 1/2 generation involvement. From Ukraine…
Wondering if anyone has seen any info from
possible POW/MIA’s from Cold War/Vietnam era who may have been imprisoned and later released within country… didn’t return to US? Need help with this… thanks!

Josh

July 20, 2019

I’m 38 years old. This year I completed a test with Ancestry, as well as 23andMe. I uploaded my results to 2 other sites. After 38 years going through life believing my dad was my biological father, we found out he is not. It has been a horrible roller coaster. I have identified many second cousins, however, no one knows for sure where I came from. We have two working theories but nothing solid. I spend every few days logging in hoping someone closer has done a test. It would be great just to know where my genes come from… my dad is still my dad but the empty hole inside of me is unexplainable. Women, don’t do this to your children. I know you think you’re saving a relationship, but not telling your child or spouse the possibility hurts so many people when it all comes out. With the existing genetic companies out there, it’s only a matter of time before your secret is found out. Own it, move forward, don’t hide it and destroy your relationships.. anyone reading this, you’re not alone..

Laurie

August 1, 2019

My husband and I took the ancestrydna tests two years ago just for curiosity sake. It was my idea and I paid for the tests. A year later I get an email through the website asking me about my husband as this woman is a match to him. I look at their results and the match indicates parent/child. I was shocked to say the least. My husband was married before me and has a daughter from that marriage. We have two sons. It appears that a woman he was having sex with in the early 70s in Tampa must have become pregnant and never told him as she was involved with another man. The mother and father of this woman are both dead, so they cannot be questioned. My husband had no idea!! Be careful out there folks.

Jackie

August 6, 2019

I can relate to you Josh and others who found out their Dad was not their biological father. I just discovered this thru Ancestry DNA matches. I’m 100% certain. I’m 60 years old and both my Dads are now deceased. The hurt and empty feeling and emotional breaking is incredibly painful. I’ve been lied to all my life when I questioned my obvious physical appearance from other immediate family. Parents are not protecting children by deceiving them. Technology is so advanced which makes it easier to prove or disprove parentage. My heart aches. My mother is still alive in a nursing home and I do want to tell her what I discovered. My fear is she will not fess up which would cause me more pain. The emptiness is sometimes unbearable.

Connie

August 10, 2019

Which test is recommended to locate family on your unknown father side?

K Ward

August 11, 2019

My experience with Ancestry is that I’m trying to find my birth father and his immediate family. My mom is deceased and no one knows who he is or was. I can only find 2 of 3rd cousins on here and they messaged me back once and never again and then ignored me afterwards when I sent more messages to try to get information. All of the 4th cousins don’t know anything a lot of them try to help but it’s so hard. It’s like I’m the only one here in Indiana and I know that he was here for sometime around my mom. It’s just frustrating and I just keep giving up at times. :( :(

Michelle

August 14, 2019

OMG I never new I wasn’t alone in this. I was raised back in the 70’s by my grandparents. My mum was 17 at the time. She told me who my father was when I was 7 years old. I met his brother when I was 16. Any a year or so later I decide 1 Christmas that I wanted to wish my Uncle a merry Christmas and I new the street his parents lived on so I rung and ended up in a long conversation with their sister. I ended up meeting several people in the family. My mother and I don’t get on, never really have. Anyway it never fell right, they are a big wonderful family. Anyway I told the guy my mum named that some didn’t feel right and he felt the same way. So when I was in my late 20’s we got tested and no he’s not my father which was heart breaking. Then I got myself tested with a guy he name and no luck.

So I pretty thought I would have to die and talk to god once I got to heaven to find out. Anyway last December I did the Ancestry test and got my results in January this year. I was hoping to find out a little be more about who I am etc, a little part thought maybe I might finally find out who my father is but at the same time didn’t really think I would. Anyway I got my results and have some pretty close matches but at the time I didn’t really understand them. All of this because I didn’t click on the icon that has the %‘s and how you are like to match.

My closest match is an Aunt and then two great Uncle and Aunt. I met my Great Uncle a week or so ago. Its so unreal. I’m nearly 50 and I have had half my identity missing for my entire life, a great be hole which could never be filled!! I truly thought I was the only one as normally with adopted kids they at least have records to trace. My father has been dead for the past 20 years which is sad. Now I just have a million questions and I just have to be patient which is difficult.

Good luck to everyone looking. :)

Donna Gunnell

September 3, 2019

Want to find my father

Sandra Downing Moore

September 3, 2019

My story is a very sad one my mom was only 15 when she got pregnant with me I never I have never known Who my father Is She finally told me before she passed away that it was between 3 men They were in the Air Force stationed in New Mexico She only remembered one of their names Roy Taylor The other 2 she did not remember I have taken an ancestry dna test Praying I can find some type of familial match people don’t understand how hard it is to not know who half of you is I’m so afraid I won’t find anyone but I’m praying I can find a 1/2 sibling or an aunt or an Uncle or something I’m just glad to know I’m not alone

Brian Springthorpe

September 4, 2019

My mother never told me who my biological father was. She is now deceased. However, I grew up hearing the whispers about my provenance. I have reason to believe his name was Gallagher possibly Alan for a first name and he met my mother in Stafford, UK. Records have shown that a man of this name died in 1977. Would an Ancestry Heritage test show if I was related to this man? I would be satisfied even if the test simply showed that I was not related to the man my mother married and whose name I bear.

Caroline Hobbs

September 4, 2019

My sister and I both had our DNA tested, and it comes out as our cM is 1,679 far too low for us to to be full siblings…I just want to know the likelihood is of this being the case, I’m ok with it either way, what bothers me is not knowing.

Phyllis Tovar

September 7, 2019

A man who did ancestry DNA has come forward saying my husband is his father can this be possible can he tell from this test only? He wasn’t the only brother involved with this lady.

Krycany Chae

September 8, 2019

I received my DNA matches tonight….and immediately found a 100% parent/ child match to myself. Neither one of my (believed to be) biological parents have taken a DNA test? Is this real? I mean to tell someone they are a 100% parent/ child match is a huge deal, and makes me suspicious that this is a scam.

My biggest concern is my parent match is “account managed by 2LINK2”. I have been researching for hours, and cant seem to figure out what 2LINK2 is, or why they would have access to said parents DNA?

I mean am I crazy, or is this really a situation of “ I just found out that my biological father is actually not who I think it is?”

Please Help.

Rudolf

September 17, 2019

Please can someone help me find my father my mother don’t want to tell me anything I need to find my father I don’t have any finances please help someone

Rudolf

September 17, 2019

Please can someone help me find my father my mother don’t want to tell me anything I need to find my father I don’t have any finances please help someone if someone can help I’m in South Africa

jasmine baksh

September 23, 2019

am 63 my daughter is 42 and i dont know her dad how could i fine him

irvin

September 27, 2019

I don’t know if there’s solution for myne , my mother and my father had DNA test late 70s and the result came back positive for my father .I was then taken by my father till now I never saw my mother how can I trace the whereabout of her

Loretha eggleston

October 20, 2019

Hello my name is loretha m eggleston i am looking for my father by the of richard johnson according to my birth certificate he was 34 at the time of my twin sister and i birth which would probrably make him 80 or 81 now my mom who was 27 at the time and she was born in 1945 .we were born in november 19 1972..hopefully someone come accross my message and i get a response.thank you

Coby Rachal

November 6, 2019

I fill am a child that was taking , kidnapped .am women now, I seen a picture that look like me on missing Elizabeth Beth Ann Gill,.and Martha Gill my be my sister ,I don’t know.i can pay for a DNA test to see if they are my family .all I know is hope one day I will know and have pice of mind,

Brian

November 22, 2019

I want to know about my dad’s mom’s, mom. I’ve been told that my dad’s mom lineage is from a native American tribe. My father has pasted and so has his mom as well as his sister. What DNA test would help me and would I need my dad’s sister daughter to take the test. Please help

L

December 22, 2019

I found out the night my father died when I was 15 that he was covering for my mother who had an affair. Raised me as his own and never let up that I wasn’t his. At 33 I did the 23andme test and found my biodad and after agonizing for days over drafting a letter to him I sent it off several months ago and he’s chosen to ignore me. It’s painful to feel that rejection and something people in my situation should prepare for. Apparently I have sisters. I feel robbed of them.

Robert Allen

December 31, 2019

I have no knowledge of any of my blood relatives. I don’t even know what my name was before l was adopted as a baby. My adopted mother is deceased. My adopted father is 93 and cannot help. My birth certificate gives no information apart from the date of birth and place of birth which doesn’t seem to exist. I have felt alone all my life. Would dna testing help me? I don’t know.

Sondra Mack

January 5, 2020

I don’t know my daughter’s father only his first name and where he was from is Boston area she is an adult now but would still like to know how can I do this

Susan Levy

January 30, 2020

I know I am of Jewish decent. My grandfather came to America from Russia and my grandmother came to America from Romania. I would love to do DNA but cannot afford it. Is there any way to do it for free?

Jill O

March 9, 2020

My son is 27 and he wants to find his father. What dna test is best for this situation.

Sharon McDonald

April 30, 2020

My father is William J Boulieu who is deceased since 11/23/2000. His mother deceased never told him who his biological father was. I have a Family Tree online still not been able to locate . He was adopted by his biological Grandparents.
Can you give me idea on how to find his father? One of the Aunts provide my mother with a name that she suspected who his father was. How should I proceed?
Thanks
Sharon (Boulieu) McDonald

Eugenio Fernandez

May 7, 2020

I had a brief relationship with a woman about 20 years ago. About a year later she told me she had a son by me. I was young so I didn’t pursue the matter but now I would like to know if I have a son out there. I only know the mom’s 1st name and possible location where she lived at the time.

Can ancestry DNA help me with this?

Thanks
Eugenio Fernandez

craig kerr

May 18, 2020

Im 34 and i have never known my biological dad,all i was ever told was that his name was David Boyd and he worked for the gas board.!?? My mum and i dont see eye to eye ,we never really have done,and her not giving me more information has put a massive strain on our relationship,can Ancestry DNA help…
Regards Craig.

C Smith

May 31, 2020

I’m 62 with a pacemaker. I’ve never known my biological father. I joined ANCESTRY DNA. There was lots of of 2nd & 3rd cousins on mom’s side. There was 1 or 2 close cousins on dad’s side. We texted back n forth. He said my dad was his dad. Don’t know if he was serious. Never heard from him again. Mom passed away 4/19/20 83 yrs old. Recently, my AUNT said she was told my dad was Doug Hayes from CBS in NYC 1958 “Days of our lives” in front or behind the camera. But mom said his name was Johnny Monroe. I need a genealogist to contact me

patricia burns

June 8, 2020

My daughter did the ancestry dna test and my husband did not show up as her father, I don’t know why. There were 2nd, 3rd &4th cousins that popped up on that side but no way to connect, it says it’s an unlinked tree. My husband’s cousin had done ancestry dna test quite a few years back to trace their family history and all our children were listed as his kids. If I do the dna test will it show more, like my other children? Because it doesn’t even show my other children( brother&sister) as it is.

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