Tree roots growing over building foundation

So What Does A Genetic Genealogist Do?

Tree roots growing over building foundation

When I tell people what I do for a living, I get a lot of questions. Genetic genealogy is a new field, and not many people seem to have met someone who does the type of work that I do.

Here's what I do:

I use a combination of DNA data and historical records to help guide curious people on a journey of self-discovery where science meets story. I offer research, analysis, and coaching services to help clients discover unknown ancestors, solve family mysteries, and learn about where they fit into history.

So what does that actually mean? Every project is different, but most of my work falls into one (or more) of the following categories:

  • I help people find their biological parents. Everyone has biological parents, but not everyone knows who they are. DNA now offers a whole new toolkit for people who want to learn about their biological family. I can help you put together the jigsaw puzzle of DNA matches to figure out where you fit into the picture. If you don't know who one or both of your biological parents are, I can help you find out!
  • I solve historical mysteries. I got my start in this field trying to learn the origins of my own elusive great-grandfather. Along the way, I was able to bring closure to another family by discovering the fate of one of their relatives who had disappeared over a century ago. DNA offers clues to help with enigmas that cannot be solved with just the paper trail. If you've got a mystery among your ancestors, I can help you solve it!
  • I teach people how to make sense of DNA test results. If you are one of the millions of people who has taken (or considered taking) a direct-to-consumer DNA test, I can help you learn how to make the most out of your investment. I offer one-on-one coaching (in person or virtual) to help you move from test results to real connections and stories. I also give presentations and teach online classes.
  • I help people discover where they fit into history. No matter who you are, you've got a complex backstory. Just in the last 500 years, you have had tens of thousands of ancestors. Each of them had to navigate life in a particular time and place in order for you to be here today. I can help you learn about these ancestors and the lives they led. I can also guide you in exploring how the historical forces that shaped their lives led to the world you live in today.

Here's what I don't do:

  • I don't process DNA samples. I work with DNA results from testing companies like AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA, and Living DNA. (Some of these are affiliate links.) If you have questions about which test is best for you, please contact me!
  • I don't offer medical advice. If you have questions about your health because of something you've learned from a DNA test, or if you are interested in testing to learn about health conditions, you may want to consider working with a genetic counselor.
  • I can't guarantee that I will find the answer to your questions. All genealogical research depends on factors beyond my control (or yours), including what records were created in the time and place where an ancestor lived, which of those survive, and how those records can be accessed today. For DNA analysis, a lot depends on who else has done DNA tests. Fortunately, DNA databases are growing rapidly! Every day new test-takers add clues that can help solve your mysteries.
  • I don't waste my clients' time or money. While I can't guarantee results, especially within a certain number of hours of service, I also don't waste your time or money. If I'm not the right person to help you get closer to your answers, I'm happy to help you find another professional better suited to your project. And while I require a minimum number of hours on most projects in order to assure that I can make real progress, the maximum investment is up to you.

What can I do for you?

If you are curious about where you fit into history, and how DNA can help you learn more, I would love to help you along your journey! Please contact me if you would like to schedule a free consultation.

Image credit: "Roots" by Tim Green (aka atoach), licensed under CC By 2.0

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