Can you help someone who lives in another area?
Of course! I often work with my own distant DNA cousins remotely, and can help people interpret their DNA results through email exchanges or Facetime. Whatever works best for you!
What is the best test to start with?
Ancestry.com – over 15 million people worldwide in the database!
If you tested elsewhere, that’s OK, each company has its strengths. You can get into a few databases for free with your raw DNA file from your testing company: GEDmatch.com, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA.
What is your rate?
My speaking rate for genealogy clubs is flexible depending on the location of engagement, length of presentation desired and the club’s budget. Please contact me with the details, and if I am available that date, I will work it out with you!
My rate for helping adoptees with their DNA is $0, as I am a Search Angel/volunteer for adoptees by choice. A beautiful option is to pay it forward and purchase a DNA kit for an adoptee who can’t afford one (someone you know who is ready to search, or I know several adoptees who need to target test another person to narrow down their search). The best payback for me is hearing that people connected, and/or seeing photos of meetups with biological family, whether immediate family or cousins, aunt or uncle!
How can I learn how to do this, too?
I learned by finding the best people in the business and learning from them. I also learned by reading as many posts as I could on The DNA Detectives Facebook group, attending DNA Boot Camp for a week at SLIG 2017 (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) in Salt Lake City, i4GG in San Diego (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 in Las Vegas, DNA Day at Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, RootsTech 2018 and 2019 and watching selected podcasts or webinars.
I completed the SLIG Academy 2019 course: DNA and the 21st-Century Professional with Angie Bush as course coordinator and Blaine Bettinger and Paul K. Graham as additional instructors and for SLIG Academy 2020, I completed D. Joshua Taylor’s Public Speaking course.
When I called the Dallas Public Library’s genealogy help desk in 2016 about my brother’s birth mom’s adoption, I was connected to a research librarian who told me, “You need to talk to Connie Gray. She is an expert on Texas adoptions.” Connie Gray was a wealth of information! She called me and was so generous with her time and information about adoptions, particularly in Texas.
I knew CeCe Moore was amazing, from her work on TV show search and reunions. Her Facebook group, The DNA Detectives, was fascinating to read to learn what worked for other people. I met CeCe at i4GG in San Diego, a DNA conference she produces, and again at DNA Boot Camp. CeCe gave me valuable advice for a birth mother and daughter reunion for a birth mom I helped get in the databases. CeCe wrote about that reunion on her blog.
Through the DNA Detectives Facebook page, I connected with three of my distant (3rd-4th) cousins, whom I’ve worked with remotely, but haven’t met yet as they live in distant states from me: Teri Roberts Wheeler, Heidi Rae and Bobby Nix. Teri and I have collaborated as genealogists. It was such a blessing to watch Heidi’s and Bobby’s searches, assist a little bit, and see photos of their reunions.
Kathy Fernandes is an expert on Portugal Azores Islands DNA and genealogy. I attended her class about endogamy (where close cousins marry in a limited area and everyone’s related to everyone) during i4GG 2016, thinking I would never need to know about the Azores Islands. But guess what? An adoptee I was helping had many Azores Islands DNA matches. I knew just who to call for help, and Kathy generously built the Azores Islands part of the adoptee’s tree back several generations. She used Spanish church records and her knowledge of surname patterns for the Azores Islands, which are tricky and inconsistent.
At SLIG DNA Boot Camp I met new DNA friends: Shelley Lewis from Canada, Gretchen Jorgensen from Colorado, and I reconnected with Heather Goebel and met many more DNA enthusiasts!
In one of the DNA Facebook groups, I noticed Renee Voegele had a lot of knowledge about Oklahoma and Cherokee genealogy and DNA interpretation, and she has helped me learn more about that.
At one of the East Valley DNA Special Interest Group meetings, I mentioned that if anyone wants to be a search angel volunteer, there is a need for many more. Alyson Johnson took me up on the offer, and for a while we met every couple of weeks to delve into search methods and tools and techniques. There is always something new to learn about genetic genealogy, which is why DNA Boot Camp at SLIG was 5 full days and we still had more to learn!
Blaine Bettinger has a great Facebook group called “Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques” and it has frequent breaking news. I also recommend DNA-Central.com, a subscription site started by Blaine that has webinars and a lot of current information on how to use DNA. My 2019 webinar: “So You Wanna Be a Search Angel” is available to watch on DNA-Central.
Recommended reading for adoptees, birth moms, and adoptive parents and those close to them: “The DNA Guide for Adoptess” by Brianne Kirkpatrick and Shannon Combs-Bennett (2019).
Diahan Southard has a new book coming out in 2020 on DNA, which will be excellent. Her teaching materials are very good and visually interesting.
Also, I recommend “Birthright: The Guide to Search and Reunion for Adoptees, Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents” by Jean A.S. Strauss. This book is not about DNA; it was published in 1994. It has a lot of good information and food for thought on searches, and various outcomes of reunions, and the best ways to approach them. You can find it on Amazon, often for under $5, and sometimes find it as an ebook for $1 or $2.