Social media and its use in finding family

Traditional search for birth relatives has certainly grown beyond the tedium that many have had to endure twenty or thirty years ago. With the compelling ability to take an autosomal DNA test and narrow our search for birth relatives from millions and millions of people to thousands, is really a miracle of modern science.

Add to this a vast amount of information now available within online databases like,, and many other similar digital representations of documentation, finding a place to start has shrunk quite a bit. Still, not everyone can immediately benefit from these organizations if their databases do not contain information needed to narrow their searches. Recent immigrants and those scattered by conflicts across the world, are subject to the region and chaos indigenous to their origins.

There is one case I have been subject to with an adoptee that has no close relatives surfacing from their autosomal DNA tests. AncestryDNA, 23andMe nor FamilyTreeDNA have anything closer than fourth cousins to base our search on. Those we have had the ability to reach either have faulty genealogical trees built, based on family knowledge and weak documentation, or reach into Europe before World War I.

Recently I decided to turn to social media to tap into my growing list of followers and have been provided some tips from the community of genealogists. Certainly my search is not about my own pride as it is more about how I can assist someone with finding the next relative we can substantiate on their tree. Literally posting questions and requests for a specific piece of information can help produce the spark necessary to move forward on a search.

When it comes to Twitter, one must craft the post in a way that provides the audience with a sense that owning the answer can deliver the reader bragging rights. Building up an audience that can help focus “assistance potential” takes time. With some effort I have been able to gather an audience of genetic genealogists, geneticists, science geeks as well as adoptees and birth family engaged in their own efforts. While I am sincere in my posts, my hope is to occasionally position a request for information. I do believe it is important to give the audience information that they find valuable enough to follow.

So while I tap into these people, and try not to bore them with constant requests; instead most of my efforts are geared toward providing them with what they want. An inspirational quote, some scenic photos of geography, and information that might get them thinking about their interests mentioned previously. The quality of advice handed back to me, is really based on the quality of the audience, so I try and take great care to not force any controversial subject past a certain point. While I could easily engage in expressing my opinions, I know doing so sets a precedence that might erode the type of audience I am looking for.

As long as I remain genuine in my efforts to educate, entertain, and provide support for people there is hope my audience will continue to grow and when I am in need of some more assistance, some subject matter expert just might step forward to assist. I will be there at the ready to retell their post, favorite it, and give them the applause they deserve in this verse.

One can never tell what small piece of information could lead to a turning point in the searches I participate in with adoptees and birth family. Seven degrees of separation, is definitely not just a concept, it is a reality one can happen to trip over on the path toward truth. One just has to be willing and able enough to toss our net as far and wide as possible to snag some answers.