Ready to Contact Your DNA Matches? Here’s What to Say (and NOT to Say)
By Patricia Hartley
DNA testing for ancestry is more popular than ever. Since Family Tree DNA offered the first direct-to-consumer DNA test for ancestry back in 2000, more than 12 million Americans alone have been tested with a variety of companies. At least, this was the total as of mid-2018, and doesn’t take into account the potential millions of tests that were purchased over the holidays (in 2017, Ancestry alone sold 1.6 million DNA tests over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend).
With this many DNA results online in the various databases, chances are very, very good that you’re going to find hundreds of distant cousins when your results are processed. Depending on your test provider and the comprehensiveness of your relative’s profile, you may even be able to identify your earliest common ancestor for some of these individuals.
Maybe your excitement or curiosity about a DNA match will compel you to reach out to your new cousin to introduce yourself, compare research notes, or just learn more about a family unit that was previously unfamiliar. Most DNA services include a secure messaging option so you can send a quick note to the owner of the DNA sample (or the person who is managing the account for them) while ensuring privacy and a certain degree of anonymity.
So how should you approach this message? What should you include? How will you greet your new relative? The rules you follow in business and personal communications also apply to DNA match messages.