To answer all these questions and more, the most effective route to take is an at-home DNA test. With this type of testing, you can find as many as hundreds of unknown relatives out there. Millions of people around the world have taken part in DNA testing, so although you may get lucky and find a sibling, parent or cousin, chances are you will find second or third cousins.
Keep reading for the best DNA test for finding relatives.
DNA Testing to Find Relatives
Follow these steps to find as much information about your relatives and possibly even connect with them.
Ordering a test from the above-mentioned at-home DNA testing companies is your first step to uncover long-lost relatives. Activate your test online and collect your DNA sample. This is either done with a saliva sample or a simple cheek swab. Return the test to the lab and wait for your results. Generally, it takes around 4-8 weeks to get your results back depending on the company and these results will usually be available on the website of the DNA testing company in question.
Before you get those results you may want to start building a family tree documenting any names you know and those you don’t list as “unknown”. This family tree will allow you to fill in any gaps with details you find when your results do come in.
Look at your closest matches. These will most likely be listed by the relationship you most likely have. The higher they appear on your list, the closer your relation to them. The DNA testing company will be able to tell you how related you are. Here are the DNA testing averages so you know what to look for:
- Parents and full siblings: 50% shared DNA
- Grandparents and half-siblings 25% shared DNA
- Aunts and uncles and half siblings: 25% shared DNA
- First cousins 6.25% shared DNA
- Second cousins 1.5% shared DNA
If you haven’t found any matches yet, do not feel defeated, as DNA databases are constantly changing and evolving. Chances are that a match will appear in no time at all.
Contacting your matches may seem daunting at first, but remember it’s OK to take your time. When you decide to take this step, introduce yourself and let the person in question know that you are looking for members of your biological family. Be mindful that a message like this can come as a surprise to the person on the other end. You should know that people may not often check their messages regularly so remember to keep coming back and look for a response.
There is a good chance that you can view your shared matches on the website so check out their family tree and keep an eye out for any surnames, places of origin or specific people that you may have in common with them. If the person in question doesn’t have a family tree built already, consider asking them to, or offer to help them build one.
Look for common ancestors between yourselves and if you happen to find one you can also research that ancestor’s descendants one generation at a time. From there you can go down the list of children they have had and their children, ultimately finding relatives, including parents and siblings you are looking for.
Once you have a list of people you think may be related to you, whether cousins, grandparents, parents or siblings, consider contacting them. Even though you may not be related to them, this step may be able to help you fill in any gaps you might still have.
Always remember that the results you find in relative genetics DNA testing can be surprising for both you and other people that may be related to you. This might intrigue them to take an ancestry DNA test to find relatives themselves. On the other hand, people may not want to partake in this experience. Uncovering such sensitive information about their families could potentially reveal various discoveries they aren’t willing to come to terms with just yet. That is something to be respected and you should always be mindful not to overstep any boundaries.
Don’t forget that there are various things to uncover other than long-lost relatives with an at-home DNA testing kit, such as discovering your haplogroup as well as finding out more about health issues that could affect you. Find out about the best DNA testing kits that we have reviewed here.
Top DNA Tests For Relatives
With over 100 million users around the globe, if you’re going to find your long lost relatives, this is the place to do it. Combining DNA results with family tree analysis, MyHeritage offers some of the best prices when it comes to DNA testing. Although their database size may not be as large as some, you can find out more about your possible ethnic background as they cover over 42 different ethnicities including Jewish, Irish, Native American, Japanese, and others.
After you have sent over your sample, you won’t have to wait long for your results, which will be presented to you in a fun and educational way, with music-backed animation. Their cutting-edge DNA testing in combination with family tree services is what sets MyHeritage apart from the rest.
Even if you have taken part in DNA testing with a different company, but aren’t happy with your results, or are looking further, you can use the MyHeritage service with your previous DNA results. Simply upload your DNA data from any of the other major brands and MyHeritage will look for potential relatives and matches within their database.
MyHeritage has also recently improved their service which means users will have improved accuracy within their results with as many as 10 times as many matches as well as more precise relationship estimates and higher DNA confidence levels.
MyHeritage DNA testing is ideal for:
- Completing your family tree
- Looking for long-lost relatives
- Finding out about your ethnicity
For more information read our MyHeritage review here.
Finding relatives is something that you can do with this industry-leading DNA testing brand because it has not only the largest but also the most diverse database in the world with over 10 million users and 17 billion searchable records. The great thing about AncestryDNA is that it will offer you insight about your distant ancestors as well as more recent information regarding your family tree.
Ancestry DNA will not only tell you that you may have a Spanish background, but your results will often be able to even pinpoint the name of a small village found in Spain. When looking for relatives, AncestryDNA is one of your best choices as you will probably get a fuller set of results considering they have the largest database of all. This means you have a higher chance of connecting with possible relatives.
When taking part in an AncestryDNA test you will have access to tools such as Shared Ancestor Hints, Genetic Communities which allows you to interact with your results as well as New Ancestor Discoveries and you can even create DNA Circles of probable relatives.
AncestryDNA is ideal for you if you want to:
- Uncover things about yourself
- Find relatives
- Find siblings
- Build a family tree
For more information read our AncestryDNA review here.
Another favorite brand when it comes to at home DNA testing is 23andMe, especially when it comes to digging up information about your family tree. Opting into their DNA Relatives tool will allow you to connect with other users and possibly even find some long-lost relatives. If you are not sure about how far you want to go, 23andMe have options when it comes to your confidence level in order to reveal a certain amount of information to you.
Remember that there are two tests to choose from, an Ancestry test as well as an Ancestry and Health testing. The latter offers information that will not be included in general DNA testing reports, such as diseases you might be vulnerable to, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as traits you may pass down to your children.
There are various things that you can look forward to in your 23andMe report including:
- Ancestry composition
- DNA relative finder
- Maternal and Paternal Haplogroups
- Raw data
- Neanderthal ancestry
- Genetic health risk report
- Wellness report
- Traits report
- Carrier status report
Another fantastic thing about 23andMe is that they are constantly looking for new ways to improve their service and ask participants if they can take part. Answering a few simple questions now and again when you visit their website may not be a big deal to you, but it helps 23andMe conduct research studies and find out more about people.
23andMe DNA testing is ideal for:
- Discovering long-lost relatives
- Finding out more about your health
- Discovering your ethnicity
For more information read our 23andMe review here.
#4 Living DNA
Another popular choice for those looking to find relatives is Living DNA, testing as many as 650,000 genetic markers in 80 geographic regions. As one of the best DNA tests for finding relatives, Living DNA will test both your maternal (mtDNA test) and paternal (Y-DNA test) lines which are usually offered in different tests going back around 10 generations.
Your results will come about through highly-advanced testing with the help of expert scientists and you will also receive an interactive map showing how your ancestors migrated throughout the ages. The great thing about Living DNA is that you have the ability to take your results and create a table-top book out of them, which will make for a great read.
Living DNA is the ideal DNA test for relatives if you want to:
- Find relatives
- Discover family information specific to England or Ireland
- Build a family tree
For more information read our Living DNA review here.
While a somewhat pricier option, FamilyTreeDNA looks at your DNA more closely than the others, comparing as many as 500 short tandem repeat markers and thousands of DNA snips which can determine whether a potential relative is either from your mother or father’s side of the family. Testing also takes a shorter period of time, with your results coming back within 4-6 weeks instead of the usual wait of 6-8 weeks. Find out if you have any matches with other people who have taken the same test. FamilyTreeDNA will also tell you the possible relationship you have with that individual as well as the number of centimorgans you might have in common.
FamilyTreeDNA is the ideal DNA test to find relatives if you want to:
- Make use of analysis tools like FTDNATiP
- Build a family tree
- Work on collaborative projects to trade your ancestry
You can find out more with our review here.
The Bottom Line
DNA testing is something that is constantly evolving, and as it has become more affordable and accessible to the general public, the possibilities of DNA testing are endless, helping us find out more about our ancestry, ethnicity, possible traits we can hand down to our children, health issues we may face as well as the ability to help advance research in many sectors.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s closed adoptions were very popular in the US consequently leaving many people wondering about their family history. An ancestry DNA test to find relatives is one of the best options available at the moment.
Looking for long-lost relatives can be an exhausting and yet thrilling experience, with rewarding discoveries along the way. Using an at-home DNA testing kit can provide you with many answers to questions that you have had your whole life as to your identity and where you come from.
Other than finding out about your ancestors dating back thousands of years, at-home DNA testing kits have allowed us the ability to search and discover relatives all around the world, including distant and close cousins, grandparents and even parents and siblings.