Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What exactly does Find Your Branch Genealogy do? 

Find Your Branch Genealogy helps clients build their family trees and helps them find their roots. Find Your Branch Genealogy takes everything you know about your family and builds your entire family tree to the furthest generation I can trace. Ancestry.com is where client trees are built.

In addition to this, I can research a specific period of time within your family or a particular ancestor. If you would like your family history organized, I can do that as well.

2. Why can’t I do this myself?

Genealogy is an incredibly time-consuming task, which one can feel overwhelmed by when they are first starting out. When doing genealogy, you must look at each record and every piece of information you have, using every tool available in order to trace your family. It took me about a year to feel comfortable in my skills to start helping others find their families. Simply, I do all the work so you don’t have to. I work with the individuals who don’t have the time or patience to track their entire tree. Often times, people will give up early in the game, leaving their trees with only 10 people (or less) and they end up not logging into Ancestry.com for over a year or more. While people have good intentions for building their trees, I call these trees the “I give up” trees. When this happens, it’s time to call a professional. 

3. What makes Find Your Branch Genealogy qualified to help me?

Find Your Branch Genealogy has many years of experience helping people across the United States find people that clients have been searching for for years. When I began the search for my father’s birth family, I spent my evenings researching the family nearly every night for a year. Throughout this time, I not only tightened my research skills, but I took the time to learn how to do genealogy from seasoned searchers who had been doing it a lot longer than I had. In addition, I also learned about the science behind DNA and how that helps with the search process. Once that first year ended, I began helping people find their families and ancestors.

4. How far back can you go when researching my family? 

I go back as far as the paper trail goes. For my clients, I’ve gone as far back as the 1400’s and as late as the 1800’s. While each family and ancestor is unique, it also depends upon what country your family is from. For Italian families for example, it’s difficult researching this group online, since Italy has not digitized most of their records. 

 5. Is working with Find Your Branch Genealogy going to be like Finding Your Roots or another genealogy show?

No. While the research on Finding Your Roots and other genealogy shows is accurate, (and fun to watch!) none of those show disclose to the viewer just how many hours it took for researchers and their large team of specialists to assemble the family tree for that particular guest. While the researchers are familiar with many different types of groups due to having different guests on each episode, the genealogists on Finding Your Roots, for example, put in about 600-800 hours’ worth of research per episode, over the course of several months or longer. While it may look like a tree was assembled in minutes, that’s never the case in genealogy, whether a camera is rolling or not.

6. What documents do you need to assemble my family tree, look for my relative, etc.

The answer is everything you have. The more information I have on your family, the more successful I will be in creating your tree or searching for who you are looking for. I will only accept copies of your family documents and I will not take any originals.

7. I would like to hire you to find a particular relative. Can you guarantee that you’ll find them? If you don’t find my relatives, do I get a refund?

As stated on the pricing page, I cannot (and won’t) guarantee that I will find who you are looking for. I emphasize this in my consultations, in my client agreements, and on my website. In genealogy, what you’ll find is totally unknown at the time you begin searching. When you hire a genealogist, you are hiring them for the time researching and gathering information. You are not hiring a genealogist to get a specific result, and a good genealogist will never guarantee clients anything.

Since you are hiring a genealogist for their time, expertise, and research skills, refunds are not allowed.

8. Is there an area that you specialize in or do not research? 

I am open to speaking with all clients looking to trace their family history, though do know that some areas of genealogy may require a specialist, due to certain times in history, different languages, etc. My main area of focus is adoptions (open and closed) and helping adoptees build a birth family trees, and if they wish, discussing the best method to contact their family.

The one area I will not work with clients on is Sephardic Jewish ancestry, as this area requires an extensive knowledge of Spanish history, culture, and language while being an expert on the history and customs of Sephardic Jews. If you need to work with a specialist in any area, I will try my best to find you someone who can assist you in the area you are needing help with.

9. Is a genealogist the same as an heir finder?

No. An heir finder is responsible for finding someone’s heirs who may be entitled to an inheritance. In the state of Texas, you must be licensed to be an heir finder which falls under private investigation. This is not the same as building a family tree or finding someone’s birth family.

9. I am adopted. What information do you need from me to start my search? 

Great question! If you have information concerning your adoption, please provide copies of any documents you may have. In adoption cases, I highly encourage clients to take a DNA test if they haven’t already, as this can be a crucial piece of the puzzle when searching for family. 

10. Is a DNA test required to work with Find Your Branch Genealogy? 

As stated on the pricing page, a DNA test is not required to work with Find Your Branch Genealogy, though we do encourage it in circumstances of adoption and situations where someone may not know who their father is. DNA testing can help you break down walls that cannot be broken by doing traditional research. 

11. Are you affiliated with Ancestry or 23 and Me?

No. Find Your Branch Genealogy does not have a professional relationship with either company. Find Your Branch Genealogy is a completely independent company. 

12.How accurate are the DNA tests on the market today? 

The DNA tests available to the consumer today are 100% accurate. I always tell my clients that DNA does not lie. What you spit into the tube comes from you, and no one else. The numbers you receive from each heritage group are estimates of the heritage you receive from your ancestors. You may have a little more, or a little less, but if it says you are German for example, you are in fact German.

13. But wait! My uncle came back as a first cousin! What happened?

Whenever you test with a company such as Ancestry, the predicted relationship that is given is just a generalization of the amount of DNA you share with someone, it’s not an exact answer. If you would like to see a more accurate representation the amount of DNA you share with your matches on AncestryDNA, you can find this by clicking on your matches profile, where it says (ex. Jimmy and Sue share 850 Cm’s.) Note: cM’s is short for centimorgans, the units measuring DNA between two people.

In the above scenario, if Jimmy and Sue share 850 cM’s they would be either: a first cousin, a half aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, great grandparent and great grandchild, or a great aunt or uncle, niece and nephew. 

When figuring out how you are related to your matches, taking the predicted relationship as fact causes many people to confuse relationships on their trees or get relationships entirely wrong. Since relationships can often fall into a few different categories, research may be needed in order to untangle how you may be related to a certain match.

14. What are the best matches to have when testing and figuring out these new relationships? 

With the exception of parent and sibling matches, the closer cousin relationships you have the better. A first cousin is significantly better than a second, and a second cousin is better than a third. By fourth cousins, the DNA becomes more watered down, so I usually don’t recommend contacting a fourth cousin unless you see a common ancestor (a relative that both you and your match would recognize) for both of you in their tree. 

Do you have a question that’s not answered here? Feel free to send me an e-mail at: lauren@findyourbranchgenealogy.com