Have you hit an impasse in your research? It may be time to turn to a pro. We share our top 5 reasons for hiring a genetic genealogist.
When does it make sense to hire a genetic genealogist? What can a genetic genealogist do for me? While the reasons for seeking the help of a DNA expert can vary, here are some of the most common scenarios we’ve seen from our clients:
- You’ve taken a DNA test at a major testing company, and now you’re sitting there looking a list of people who you are apparently related to, but you don’t know how.
- You were adopted early in life, and now you want to know more about your biological ancestry. You’ve tested at all the major testing companies, but your ethnicity results are different at all of them, so you’re not sure where your ancestors are even from. Or perhaps one company updated their ethnicity estimates, and you’ve seen major changes in your numbers and want to know what it means for your ancestry.
- You’ve begun corresponding and collaborating with some of your matches, and noticed some of the same matches at multiple sites, but the amount of DNA they share is different. Is one site right and the others wrong? How do you know?
- You’ve got a family mystery you’re trying to unravel, and have noticed a number of close matches that are related to a family you’re not familiar with. Could these matches be the key to solving your mystery?
Why hire a genetic genealogist?
Running into one or more of these situations can be frustrating, daunting, or even discouraging. Your DNA test results present you with mountains of information, yet very little help is given in interpreting that data and using it to help you with your genealogy research. There are many resources out there to help with this, but where do you start, and who do you trust? Here are five reasons why you should consider hiring a professional genetic genealogist to help you make sense of your test results.
Everyone seems to be running out of time, for work, for family events, for everything in general. As with any new research venture, there is a steep learning curve in learning how to work with and understand your DNA test results. While you can (and should!) do all you can to learn about them yourself, you may also benefit from getting help from those who can work with your results now. A professional can help you focus on what you want to learn first, show you what your test results say about it, and what you can do to further solve your research problem.
All genealogists know that no one can be an expert in everything. Every field has its own nuances, quirks, and hiccups. If your expertise is in Southern U.S. Research, and you find you need help tracing ancestors in Eastern Europe, you would likely seek the help of an Eastern European researcher. Genetic genealogy is no different. If you find yourself staring at a DNA-related problem that you don’t know how to tackle, seeking the advice of a professional genetic genealogist can avoid mistakes in interpreting results.
- Mountains of Data
DNA test results are like an onion; the more layers you peel back, the more you find underneath. DNA test results present you so much information—ethnicity estimates, genetic relatives, shared match lists, SNPs, STRs, triangulated segments, and more. Yet for all this data, there is little instruction to help you make sense of everything you’re seeing. A professional genetic genealogist can sort through the data to find the information that matters to you, and help you interpret it correctly.
For example, a client recently tested at 23andMe, and her closest match was her aunt, who 23andMe listed as a half-sister. The client was understandably upset, and was now unsure whether her biological ancestry was as she had been brought up believing. Analysis of her test results found that she had matches on her maternal and paternal sides that shared appropriate amounts of DNA with her for their expected relationship, so her biological parents were the parents she knew. Additionally, we showed her how a half-sister and an aunt share equivalent amounts of DNA, and that 23andMe had chosen only one of multiple possible relationships as their estimated relationship. What at first seemed like a shocking revelation was found to be a misinterpretation of the data.
- Opportunity Cost
Any family history enthusiast can become an expert in any branch of this field with dedication, perseverance, time, and effort. Unfortunately, those resources are limited for all of us. We can only spend so much of our resources on any given thing. I have ancestry from many parts of the world, and would love to become fluent in the languages and familiar with the history and culture of those regions. But doing so would come at the cost of having less time to do the research I already know really well and can make the most use of and do the best good with. Hiring a professional genetic genealogist to handle DNA-related questions and research problems allows you to spend your resources on other areas of your research.
- Confidence in the Results
As a teenager, I learned how to rotate the tires of my car to keep them wearing evenly. I always felt uncomfortable driving my car afterwards though, as I was never sure I had secured the tire properly, and always feared it would pop off on the highway. I felt much more assured when the rotation was done by skilled professionals trained in the technique and equipped with proper tools. Similarly, by having your genetic genealogy research verified or performed by professionals skilled in the research and equipped with proper tools for it, you can be confident in the results. Legacy Tree Genealogists has an entire team of skilled professionals, trained in both genetic and traditional genealogy research, whose experience and expertise can be utilized for your specific research problem.
The field of genetic genealogy is an exciting, thriving, and constantly evolving area of genealogical research. While not every research problem requires hiring a professional to solve it, many people can and have benefitted from doing so. Whether you need a one-hour genetic consultation or a full-service genetic research project, the professional genetic researchers at Legacy Tree Genealogists stand ready to assist you.
Do you have a genetic genealogy mystery you would like help resolving? Our team is experienced at utilizing DNA evidence from all major testing companies in combination with thorough records research to break down the genealogy “brick walls” in your family tree. Request your free quote now!