Daniella’s search

*All names have been changed

Search goal: Find both sets of Daniella’s biological grandparents

Daniella reached out for help finding her biological grandparents on both sides. Both of her parents had been adopted, and she had no information or place of birth for either of them, and only had their birth years and her own DNA test to go on. I was initially wondering if this would even be a possible search, but I was up for a challenge and offered to help!

Daniella’s parents had very similar ethnicity estimates so there was no way of telling which parent was Parent 1 and which was Parent 2. I started to sort the matches as I always do.

The matches on Parent 1’s side sorted into 4 groups:

  • Group 1, the Southgate family line
  • Group 2, the Clark family line
  • Group 3, the McAdams family line
  • Group 4, the Wagner family line

Right away I could see that some of Daniella’s closer matches in Groups 3 and 4 were part of both groups, indicating a connection. I also noticed that Daniella’s top match Priscilla was part of Groups 1 and 2, indicating those groups were likely connected too. Awesome, it looked like we had grouped two of the grandparent families already.

Priscilla was a close match at 996cM, and looking at her tree I could tell that Daniella had DNA from both of Priscilla’s parents- and also, Priscilla’s siblings were all in the age range I would expect Daniella’s grandparents to be. As I started tracing the siblings, I noticed that one of Priscilla’s sisters had married a man from the Wagner family! I started to think perhaps we had already found one set of grandparents. I decided to set them aside for now and take a look at the other parent.

Parent 2’s matches split into three groups:

  • Group 1, the Binns family line
  • Group 2, the Sherman family line
  • Group 3, the Rankin family line

Daniella’s second highest match Sam was also matching Groups 1 and 2. Daniella had DNA from both of Sam’s dad’s parents, and again, his dad was in the age range that Daniella’s grandparents would be. Sam was also matching Daniella decently, so I figured he was going to be a first cousin once removed.

I built out the Rankin tree and narrowed it down to a set of siblings again in the age range that Daniella’s grandparent would be from. To my surprise, there was only one daughter, and she had actually been married to Sam’s uncle the year after one of Daniella’s parents had been born. So I knew we had found one set of grandparents for sure. (This was later confirmed further after Daniella began communicating with her matches.)

The next day I went back to look at Parent 1 side to see if we could narrow it down further. At this time, Daniella’s Gedmatch results had come in, and I looked for X DNA matches, seeing if that would help us out with Parent 1. And it did!

Daniella had a match from the Southgate family that shared X DNA with her. From this, we knew that one of Priscilla’s sisters was indeed going to be one of Daniella’s biological grandmothers. I searched around for their ages and marriage dates, and we narrowed it down to two possible sisters. After reaching out to some of her matches, who knew of their sister having a child in the year that one of Daniella’s parents were born, she knew which Southgate sister was her other biological grandmother.

As for the McAdams/Wagner family, since we knew it was going to be one of the brothers, we did the same thing and narrowed it down to two brothers from the set of siblings we had been looking at. Ultimately, additional DNA testing or adoption records would help definitively determine which brother it is. Daniella is very happy to have confirmed the identities of three of her four biological grandparents, and is looking forward to learning more.

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