These are some of the most common questions we get.  Please contact us if you need additional information.

How do you find unknown family using DNA?

We find connections among the DNA relatives listed by your genealogical DNA testing company.  Those connections usually direct us to your ancestors, perhaps your 2nd or 3rd great grandparents. From there, we work forward in time using genealogical tools, specialized databases, and strategic testing of other people to confirm your biological family.

How long does a search take?

The duration of a search depends on many factors, including how close your DNA matches are, whether they have family trees, the accessibility of genealogical records, whether you are seeking a parent or a great grandparent, and whether you come from an endogamous group with a history of intermarrying. Most searches resolve within 10 to 20 hours of work over several months.

What kind of DNA test should I do?

We recommend that all clients take an autosomal DNA test through AncestryDNA and 23andMe.  The data from AncestryDNA can be uploaded to other databases for a reduced fee.  Men may also want to take a Y-DNA test through FamilyTreeDNA, which can sometimes connect you to your biological surname. Women do not have Y-DNA, so they cannot take this test.  A third type of DNA testing, mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is only useful in specialized cases.

How does DNA testing work?

When you order an autosomal genealogical DNA test, you will receive a test kit by mail.  The kit requires either saliva (AncestryDNA and 23andMe) or a cheek scrape (MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA), which you mail back to the company.  They will analyze the sample and provide you with an estimate of your ethnicity as well as a list of relatives who share DNA with you.  23andMe also provides a variety of medical and trait reports for an extra fee.

Which DNA testing company should I use?

The three main autosomal DNA testing companies are AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage.  The “best” one is always the one that has your closest relatives in their database, but we can’t know that ahead of time.  Therefore, the best strategy is to test with AncestryDNA ($99) and 23andMe ($99, or $199 with medical reports), then to upload your AncestryDNA data into the MyHeritage database (free to upload, $29 to unlock extra features).  If you are on a budget, test with AncestryDNA first, then expand to the other companies as necessary and as your budget allows.  Men who want to take the Y-DNA test should do it through FamilyTreeDNA.

Can you guarantee results?

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we will find your biological family.  The success of a search depends on many factors that are beyond our control, such as how closely related your DNA relatives are, the ease of building family trees for them, and whether you come from an endogamous population.  However, the DNA databases are growing rapidly, and a search that stalls now might resolve quickly in a few months or a year as closer matches are found.

What types of payment do you accept?

Payment can be made by personal check or PayPal.

Do you offer refunds?

We contract with our clients on a pre-paid hourly basis.  Should you decide to cancel our agreement, we will refund payment for any unused research time, minus expenses and minimum hours threshold.