Using DNA to Your Find Birth Parents: Which DNA Testing Company is Best?
There are several companies selling DNA kits, but by far the best for a biological parent search is AncestryDNA. Not only do they have the largest database, they have those all-important family trees. Some people will strike gold and find a close family member match sitting in their results, but in my experience, more people will find their closest matches are second and third cousins. Don’t discount these matches; second and third cousins are very useful—as long as they have trees.
23andMe is the next best test. They have a large database, a chromosome browser, and allow you to see how closely related your matches are to each other. They offer both an ancestry option and combined ancestry and health profile option. If you can’t find room in your budget for the 23andMe health report, just take the 23andMe ancestry option—you can always upgrade to the health report at a later time. In my experience, 23andMe appeals to a younger audience; they tell you all sorts of fun little things like how much Neanderthal DNA you have. So depending on your age, and who you’re looking for, you may seriously want to consider finding room in your budget for this one. The downside to 23andMe is very few people have family trees, and like all the DNA testing platforms, very few people respond to messages.
The other two main options are MyHeritage and FTDNA. I do not recommend paying for these. Both FTDNA and MyHeritage allow you to upload your raw DNA from Ancestry or 23andMe to their sites for free. The users of FTDNA and MyHeritage tend to be on the older side, which can be fantastic for moving your family trees back a generation or two.
GedMatch doesn’t administer DNA kits, but their platform is setup to allow transfers of any of the above tests. They also have a chromosome browser, matching segment searches, and can tell you if your parents were related. I know people are always telling other’s to upload to GedMatch, which is helpful, but I can’t state it often enough, GedMatch is not a silver bullet, few people are lucky enough to immediately find a close family match, let alone a close family match that is willing to talk. Using DNA to find your biological family often involves work.