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Unexpected DNA Matches: What Should You Do?

So, you’ve taken a DNA test and were surprised with unexpected DNA matches.

Une Dxpected DNA matches. Twin brothers.

Unexpected DNA matches are those of people you didn’t expect to see listed—and you may not have any idea who they are, or how they fit into your family. Maybe you found that your DNA doesn’t match your father. We know that can be a very unsettling feeling! But it’s important to remember a couple of things about DNA matches before you make any conclusions:

  1. Remember that DNA matches are indeed your biological family. You won’t see family members in your list who married in, may have been adopted, or are otherwise not biologically related to you. 
  2. You may have unexpected DNA matches that aren’t listed because they haven’t taken a DNA test, or they took one from a different company than you. If your family members took 123andMe tests while you used Ancestry’s version, you won’t see theirs listed in your Ancestry results.

If you see unexpected DNA matches in your account, it’s always a good idea to double check with family members to find out if they have taken one, and that it was the same test you took. If you still have unexpected matches, keep reading.

(Check out our review of the DNA test titans: 23andMe vs AncestryDNA)

Understanding DNA matches: the basics 

For purposes of clarity, we’ll assume that you’ve taken an Ancestry DNA test and are looking at your list of matches.

What to do if you find an unexpected DNA match

Mom and daughter reunited after unexpected DNA matches

If you and your family members take a DNA test, and you subsequently see that you or someone in the family doesn’t match up as expected, this situation can cause an uproar in any family. To avoid as much uproar as possible, do the following:

  1. Be sure that you are interpreting the data correctly before you broach the subject to others in the family. Stay calm and try to think things through before reacting.
  2. It really helps to seek the assistance of a professional who can help you sift through your DNA results and matches to see how it coincides with your family tree. At Origins Genealogy, we are expert in solving these kinds of mysteries.
  3. Even if a family secret comes to light, try to approach the secret keeper with kindness and respect. At Origins, we are also experts in helping families address the concerns that arise from unexpected DNA matches and the effects on your family.
  4. We know how to be a source of calm and a neutral ground to help you and your family members work through issues that arise from family secrets. Our trained experts have dealt with these situations many times.

The DNA doesn’t lie

DNA is a test tube.

As unsettling as it may be to see unknown people in your list of DNA matches, it is important to remember that the DNA doesn’t lie. Truthfully, there are many instances out there when Ancestry users have been surprised by their results. Long-buried family secrets sometimes are to blame, while other times secret adoptions come out.


As uncomfortable as it may be, DNA always tells us the truth. Try to keep an open mind about new familial relationships that reveal themselves to you, because ultimately finding people who share your DNA can turn out to be one of the best experiences.

For many Origins clients, they say meeting a new family member has been one of the best experiences of their lives. Family is everything!

If you are thinking of taking a DNA test, let the experts at Origins help you. We are a professional genealogy firm and can assist you in setting up your account. Once you receive your results, we can download a copy of your raw DNA and upload it to four other databases. This will ensure the maximum connections.

Origins Genealogy can also assist with finding birth parents and locating adopted siblings.

We also have the best services in tracing your family tree.

New to genealogy? Our analysis of the best free and paid genealogy websites should get you started off right.

Liaison For Adoptee and Birth Family

As an adoptee, it is not always easy to reach out to your birth parent. It can be quite a shock for those receiving the call. After Origins has identified who the birth parents/family are, we can make the initial contact for you. As a neutral party, we can smooth the way for the first contact by crafting introduction letters, gathering photos to send, providing the research, and answering questions to assure the information is accurate. This provides a comfortable and safe environment for all parties that generally leads to a much smoother transition to getting to know each other.

Origins Travel Tour

There’s no place like home. Now that you know your heritage, why not go home for a visit. Origins offers both personalized ancestral tours for those who want a more custom trip and heritage tours for those who enjoy a planned itinerary.