Not all the discoveries made on 23andMe are quite as profound as Neil Schwartzman finding his half-sister and mother, but even when 23andMe’s Relative Finder links distant cousins together those connections can still be electric.
Gerald Lopez, a customer who found a fourth or fifth cousin and information about his mixed ancestry, said it was like discovering “history that’s not written in history books.”
23andMe’s Relative Finder uses genetic data instead of archived records to identify family relationships. Where written paper records fail, genetic information can sometimes fill in the gaps. Pieces of DNA are passed down from generation-to-generation, so that our genetic data is our own repository of information about our ancestry. Comparing any two people’s DNA can also determine whether they are related.
Customers have identified more than 700 previously unknown family relationships discovered through Relative Finder. They’ve found fifth and fourth cousins like Gerald and a few, like Neil, have even found parents and siblings. Among our more than 100,000 customers, Relative Finder has identified 82,000 relationships that are either 4th cousins or closer.
Recently we updated Relative Finder to make it easier to use and search. Now users can show genealogical information — surnames, family locations, etc. This makes it easier for users to sort through potential matches. We also updated Relative Finder so that users can record notes about their matches, and confirm relationships. And the information available is rapidly increasing.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a genealogist, you might be surprised how fulfilling it can be to discover a common connection. You can remain anonymous if you choose, and only information in your profile that you designate as “visible to all 23andMe members” will be shown to your Relative Finder matches, so you can share as little or as much as you like. And if you need help tracing a connection, many experienced Relative Finder “sleuths” are available in the community to offer tips and encouragement.
If there’s something that binds all 23andMe users together, it is a healthy curiosity about themselves and their DNA. So let Relative Finder broaden your horizons and let your DNA give you more to relate to!
If you’ve already discovered something interesting about your family through Relative Finder, do tell. We’re interested in hearing your stories — simply send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.