The Match Game

24 May

My parents always joked I should be a lawyer or a politician. After this crazy adventure, I think I should be a detective or maybe even a genealogist. Oh heck, who am I kidding? This genealogy thing has literally made my brain hurt at times!!

Because the DNA tests are “predicting” your relationship, it does not mean the relations they designate you and your match to be is 100% accurate. The more DNA you share, the more confident they are in their predictions. For example, Anna and I are predicted 2nd cousins and the confidence level of Ancestry DNA is extremely high. Shannon Wayne however is a predicted 4th cousin with a confidence level of high. The more distant the relationship (the less DNA matched) , the less confident the prediction.  I have a very long list of people with whom the match prediction confidence level is moderate.

I was curious to see how accurate the matches actually were. If i could crack that code, it might help me further narrow things down in the search for “dad.” Because I still was not sure who my father was, I had no starting point if I used myself so I did the next best thing. I used Anna. I started going through the list of our shared matches. I found the people who shared the closest matches to her who also had information available in their profile (some people had mini to very large family trees in their DNA profile which can really help you find where they link in some cases) and began tracing them on her family tree. The tree that I had built using any information she had given me combined with all the research I had done to expand. If I could do the physical research and formulate a guess as to their relationship, I could then compare my guesstimate with her Ancestry DNA findings and see how close I was.

What I found was that I was far better at this family tree research and DNA analysis than I thought I was. Unlike when researching my maternal side, I was essentially starting from scratch here. But I did it. In fact, I did it so well and pieced together such an extensive tree that I was able to get through several matches in different branches of the tree. When I was all done, I went back to Anna with my guesses to see how well I did.

I was right on point! Using my research I was able to deduce all of her predicted relationships as well as find a pattern. Just because it says you are predicted to be 4th cousins does not mean you are. There are several possible combinations. For example, one of the relatives I matched, ancestry predicted that they were 4th cousins. However, when you draw out the family tree, looking at it visually you can see that they were in fact second cousins twice removed. I looked like they were 4th cousins but because of the generational gap, they were actually second cousins twice removed!

That means the further out your relationship, the more possibilities there are. The closer the relation the fewer the options which means the easier the answer.

Anna and I are listed in the 1st to 2nd cousin range with the prediction that we are second cousins. I have other matches listed in the 2nd to 3rd cousin range that are also predicted to be second cousins. That says to me that Anna and I share more DNA and have a stronger tie than the others. My guess is that we are either 2nd cousins (share great grandparents) or are 1st cousins once removed (which would mean I would be her father’s cousin’s child).

Three. If all the assumptions are correct, I am down to three potential fathers. But which one is it? How did they connect with my mom? How did she know them? Why would she keep them a secret? Did she keep me a secret? Does he know I exist. Does he dread the day the phone rings and I am on the other end? Does he wish for that day? Does he even know it is a possibility? What does he think happened to my mother? Does he know she died? Or does he think she just disappeared?

All of these questions racing through my mind, I decided it was time to take a small break from the family tree research and try to learn a little about these three people. Maybe if I did a little digging, I would be able to unearth something. Another clue…..

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