Crowe Genealogy Ireland and the World Pic 1

So your DNA results are not what you were expecting?

First of all, try not to be upset? Every family has inconsistencies in their tree. Before DNA testing came along many a secret and many a story lies behind our modern existance. Today we have theluxury and comfort to be able to know more, understand more and be tolerant of life's often necessary events.

It is through DNA studies that we can find out what difficulties our ancestors faced to survive and continue living, without welfare state and modern medicine. We also live in unprecedented times of good food and working conditions. When you look at rates of disease and rates of childbirth deaths (as many as 1 in 3) you can see our ancestors lives were tougher than we can imagine, more survival than lifestyle. Feel neither guilt nor shame about what happened in your 'past' you had no control over these things, probably your ancestors had no 'choice' in their actions and you are here - the survivor!?

Secondly,I am not a qualified expert. I would always urge the possibility of specialist help and, if possible, a good friend / family network to keep things in perspective.

Thirdly, the problem you have is the same as all genealogists and we are all aware of this issue. You just have not got an easy  starting point, whereas most genealogists have some idea where the end of theball of string is. However, the process is very similar in all other respects.

However, I have helped a growing number of people with these issues andI think there are some good generalities to bear in mind as you, may be the one to help others when you cantact them for DNA results.

One piece of advice I give from the start is get  dna-cousins chart like the one I have made on this site. Then your percentage DNA can be matched to several positions on the chart and give you clues how you are likely related before contacting your matches. Note the variability of DNA for given relatives.

Try to have a balanced view

A personal srtory: As a younger teenager I was talking to a new neighbour who knew my younger sister and he asked about the red hair. My sisters copper red hair is a striking feature. Yes, I said, mine is black and our brother's is what we call 'mousy' (fair -to brown) - we are the milkman's kids I told him and his mouth fell open. In England the milkman from the1860s to the1980s was the person who delivered milk to your door. Over time he also delivered eggs, cheese and other produce. Unfulfilled women could proposition the man to deliver something extra with the morning delivery or perhaps be short of money to pay the bill on Friday and the phenomenon of the 'milkman's kids' became the butt of comedians jokes. Well my dad really was a milkman for some time, so the story is true. However, hair and eye colour follows some tricky genetics, red hair in particular. We therefore need to keep an open mind to get at the truth?

Manage your expectations

If you have unknowns in your mind it is easy to start fantasising about outcomes. At this point you will  have negative thoughts and no answers, this makes the unknow a bigger problem than it is. So, write them down - all of the unknowns, however crazy it may be to write them. Then start to write next to each one what you can you do in a practical way to solve each problem. Next to the solutions write what good things and what bad things might happen.

Overall when looking at the paper what do you want to achieve? Then choose the first of the problems and start the solution. Do not be tempted to attack on all fronts, this is a highly charged action for you and also for the other parties involved. At each stage deal with your emotions first and then repeat the  cycle of problem and solution above, as and when you are ready? Be patient and stay healthy!

Include in your written ideas what it would be like for you to receive your lette and manage their expectations too. Do not be put off by it - it is necessary to get through it, just take it one step at a time and allow time to absorb and recover before the next step. Knowing the truth, even if the outcome is not a fairy tale is easier to live with than never knowing or ever wondering?


Anger? Rejection? Abandonment?

Someone somewhere was not telling the truth.....? Maybe, but it is a difficult decision to tell someone at the 'right time'. Some are lucky and it goes well but some people are not because there is no 'right time'? Adoption agencies in the UK are much better at dealing with this whole scenario and how to explain strategies to adoptive parents and also to deal with possible outcomes. (They have 24hr hotlines for all parties). The public too is much wiser and now as many as 45% of kids are born to unmarried parents - it is normal and the law does not distinguish. However, we still have a legacy of stigma to overcome and genealogists can help overcome that stigma by offering their knowledge and experience.

Loss of identity

This can be a driving force in researching family. Apart from adoption and being an orphan this can happen with modern life and is the spur for many a new genealogist who is not adopted nor an orphan. Indeed globalism is leading to new nationalism as people seek to belong somewhere? As genealogists we have already sought the roots of our heritage and will take what we need for our personal identity. We all have this as a basic human trait - no one is alone with this need.

Amongst this subject can be a loss of culture or religion. Once identified it will need a lot of study and probably an expensive trip, to visit and more importantly experience that culture. So, many children have been adopted from East Asia and Africa that people began to realise they were creating a problem. I sat once on a plane from Ethiopia with 17 proud white Italian parents who clearly had little experience with children let alone their brown babies and wondered how they would cope with the cultural differences. When I returned I took the opportunity to talk to people, who might have influence, about the Australian scheme where parents had to agree to fund return trips at least once a year or another scheme to fund the sponsorship of children in thier own country - It cost 60 to70 GBP for a years schooling at that time - roughtly one weeks worth of shopping for me.

Dual identity -another issue is people asking which country /culture you belong to. I had this all my life, English or Irish? Often I would reply that I was born in Zimbabwe and smile at them.... Identity can be all these factors in one, I take the best of all of them! You do not have to choose. Now after my DNA test I have adopted Sweden and Finland too.To the numpty Norman Tebitt, I say- I have many badges and many flags in my life and I am better for having them!


I have met many adoptees in life and a few adoptees online that I have a DNA match with. There are specific websites set up for this and good agencies who handle emotions and expectations about  adoption. However, it is not always necessary to go straight into expensive specialist testing. Many people find their relatives through the ususal Autosomal testing without the need for extra testing. Also, this can have the advantage of not going to the parental line directly, where people may still be keeping secrets. Side relatives may also be as curious as the tester and keen to share results -after all, they took a test too?

You do not match a parent or sibling

I have read some interesting and sensible blogs on one name studies suggesting one in ten/twelve people are the result of the cold term 'non-paternity event'. Others put it nearer one in fifteen. Whatever the rate, it is sure that the issue is a common one. It wasn't always a case of some scandal - there are many good reasons why a child would only match one parent or a child was adopted by a grandparent or aunt/uncle or sibling. This was common in Ireland and elsewhere too. There were no records of these things because it was commonly understood, that wider family would take care of children when parents were unable to or children were orphaned. If a father died all was lost, as it was difficult to re-marry, almost impossible to work and the need to rely on family essential and often lead to desperate measures of need rather than choice?

Your relative was a servant

You will notice in Irish censuses many people are servants - not what you might expect. This is a term for people who lived-in and helped in some way by working in return for board and lodging and was normal. I am sure it would have been abused by some but it was a way to survive and it was also a way for those better off to provide for others - usually family note! In some rare cases the 'servant' might well become one of the host family in name too.

'Wrong' Ethnicity

Immigrants to any country or culture go one of two ways, fit in or stay as we are.

The fit-in immigrant is going to lose their costumes, accent and probably their names, sooner rather than later. The names thing is an issue for us family historians and provides a big hurdle, worse for people working back across the pond to Ireland?

The stay as we are group - are easier to find but many patterns for names will fade depending on how many of the same culture are about and how similar the culture, say in Australia, is to Ireland.

In both cases one of the things that can survive are traditions about births and marriages or events like Christmas. Also, sayings, habits and superstitions. Asking and talking with living relatives can give clues to where the origins may lie and I always ask adoptees these kind of questions as a preparation for more research.


The greatest melting pot on earth! For Irish, mini Ireland continued in New York. Often Irish intermarried here before spreading out across the States. This delays the dilution of Irish genes, something I think black slaves also have as they were obliged to look at their own first. Now of course the situation is much more mixed and I have learned the phrase 'first or second generation Irish'. Most Americans would identify as American first but ethnic too.

Seamus Crowe Website2021