Thursday, January 30, 2014

DNA to the Rescue, I

Connecting Daughter to Military Father
Underwood Surname Project
Surname DNA Project
Mary never met her biological father, a dashing soldier from the 308th Squadron, but his name was on her birth certificate. What she did know was that he at one time was in Tennessee, which is where the 20th Ferrying Group was stationed. She knew his name, his military occupation and not much more. But it didn’t take much research time to identify the soldier her mother claimed was her father. The name was correct, the occupation was correct and the location of his troop. A few phone calls, public record searches and genealogical searches gave us information on his siblings, daughters and wives, plus several of his nieces and nephews. So what’s next?

Contacting the Family
Mary believed and hoped that this 60 year search would lead her to her biological family. Like all clients of “Non-Paternal Events” (NPE), to include all cases where biological kinship needs to be proven (i.e. adoptions, unknown parentage), DNA testing was offered to the known biological daughters of the soldier. The daughters refused stating “We have no interest in meeting anyone who claims relationship with our family, nor will we participate in a DNA test (we know it will come up negative).”  Really?

Next Steps
In about 40% of these cases, further research is denied by the biological family. Surely, Daddy didn’t have a child out of wedlock! (And in this case, it was before he ever married Mommy, but surely Daddy was pure)! In spite of the harsh threatening words that followed in the email, if kinship exists, it can be proven even without consent of the daughters.

How? Still through DNA. It only will take, one grandchild, nephew, niece, great-nieces/nephews, or any cousin (up to 5 generations) of the biological family to prove kinship. That’s a lot of folks that can possibly take a DNA tests and the likelihood is great that someone will. So my advice to Mary and those like Mary who are wishing their (possible) biological half-sisters would have assisted in answering a few questions, take the DNA test and wait. In this case Mary will want to take the autosomal/Family Finder test. We suggest FamilytreeDNA thanks to their large database and Surname DNA Project in this scenario.

Information on Familytree DNA, Family Finder and Surname DNA Project. To connect Mary to her biological father (cross-gender), she must take the autosomal tests, that will include both her mother and father’s line for about 5 generations. She canl upload her family’s pedigree and analyze matches with the correct surname. All she has to do is join the project. Here is the excerpt from the FamilyTree, World website.

I took the Family Finder test. Can I still join a Surname Project?
  • Most Surname Projects welcome Family Finder test-takers, as a way to include you in the family research. However, your Family Finder test results will not be displayed on the project's Results Page, as Surname Projects use the yDNA test to trace the father line, since yDNA is passed down from father to son, just as the surname is passed down.
  • Your Family Finder test tests your autosomal DNA--the DNA you received from all your recent ancestors, going back about 5 generations--but does not trace a particular paternal line.
  • By joining the project, you will be able to provide your family's pedigree and will receive updates whenever there is new information posted on the project's website.
The worse that could happen is that Mary may find new cousins. To read about the ideal scenario visit DNA to the Rescue, II: Identifying the Unknown Soldier.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

(To protect both the client and biological family: Mary’s name has been changed to protect the client, email excerpt is from email sent 29 Jan /2014 to a3Genealogy, surname is not given as we opted to use soldier’s actual unit and location).

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