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Contacting Your Matches

Contacting DNA matches is one of the activities that you may have to do during your DNA search. This can be intimidating and scary at first.

Important: If you have a match that is a parent or looks like a sibling, before reaching out review Step 9: Prepare for Contact and Step 10: Make Contact and Join our Group for further guidance .  This is the only chance you have to make the first contact with your birth family. Make sure to do it right.

Best Practice:  Before contacting any matches, try to use The Methodology described in Step 7: Pedigree Triangulation and Step 8: Connect the Trees to identify your birth parents / family.  Due to the secrets involved with adoption, donor conception, or misattributed parentage, your matches are unlikely to be able to provide quick answers and could poison a possible future connection.

When contacting a match, the goal is to give them enough detail that they respond but not so much that they are scared off or don’t respond.
Try to be both specific and vague at the same time.

Important: During your first message it’s best not to mention:

  • adoption, donor conception, or misattributed parentage
  • possible relationships
  • that you are searching

Only after building rapport and trying to find out if if your match would be receptive or hostile should you “spill the beans”.
Below is an example of a basic message:

Hi Davie,
We are a match at AncestryDNA.  Our shared matches have Smith, Jones, and Williams in the trees but I haven’t figured out how we connect. Would you help me in trying to find our connection. I can be reached more easily at sarah@email.org  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Practice: Always make sure to mentioned the applicable company(s) where you match
Best Practice: Provide your personal email or other way to get in touch outside of the company’s email system

Consideration:  Sometimes it is best not to disclose your circumstances or why you are searching even after building rapport with a match. Use your best judgement.

More considerations and other message templates for contacting matches can be found below:

Placeholder for considerations or example letter for contacting matches via company email (Ancestry, My Heritage, 23andMe, LivingDNA) vs regular email (FTDNA and GEDMatch)
Placeholder for example letter for match with a good tree
Placeholder for example letter for match with a no or bad tree (use only after first trying to identify your parent using Pedigree Triangulation)

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