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Talk to me, please!

Dear DNA cousins,

You know who you are.

johnny_automatic_girl_prayingYou’re the ones who’ve recently tested with 23andMe. Your results have only just come in within the last little while.

One of you is projected to be The Legal Genealogist‘s second cousin. I know you’re female, and your mitochondrial haplogroup is J1c8.

I first saw you as my match in April and, except for my genealogy buddy and first cousin Paula and my nephew, you were my closest match ever on 23andMe. So I immediately sent you an invitation to share information:

Hi! Just logged in to 23andMe tonight and see that we’re projected to be perhaps as close as second cousins! I’d love to share information and see if we can identify our common ancestors. My father was a German immigrant, my mother’s family entirely from the US south (she was born in Texas). Hope to hear from you soon!1

And I haven’t heard from you.

That was really disappointing.

Then just this past week I logged in to 23andMe and there was another match appearing for the first time in my results. This time, the system projects you — my new cousin-match — to be potentially as close as a first cousin. I know you’re also female, and your mitochondrial haplogroup is I1a1.

Once again, except for my known first cousin and my nephew, you’re now my closest DNA match at 23andMe, and I shot you off a sharing request too:

Hello, there! 23andMe is showing us as very close relatives — maybe as close as first cousins! So… since I don’t know of any first cousins who’ve decided to test, I’d love to chat and compare notes. My direct email is (removed here to keep the spammers away).2

And I haven’t heard from you either.

Now I realize that there are a lot of reasons why a match might not leap onto the keyboard to respond instantly, and five days in your case, my new potential first cousin, isn’t very long. And I’m trying very hard to be patient.

But I’m not succeeding very well.

In my world, five days is practically forever. Remember the poster of the two vultures sitting on the branch and one of them says to the other, “Patience, my ass! I’m gonna kill something!”?

That’s me.

The graphic you see here? The prayer for patience that ends with “And I want it right now!”?

That’s me.

My curiosity about both of these cousins is about to kill me.

So tell me, cousins of mine… what’s up with the no response?

And is there anything I can do about it?


I wonder what else I need to put into my contact request at 23andMe to convince you that (a) I may be a little odd3 and certainly a bit driven4 but (b) I’m really harmless and getting in touch will not be a bad thing. More information? And, if so, what kind of information?

Do you need to know more about the background I think we might share?

Do you need to know more about me?

Do you need some sort of assurance about what I might do with anything you tell me?

What can I do to help facilitate a conversation?

Perhaps you’re that cousin from out west that I never met because of her parents’ divorce. If that’s the case, I can understand you might want to be cautious about sharing information that might seem disloyal to the parent you were raised by. I can work with you on that, and honor your concerns.

Perhaps you’re an adoptee. Perhaps you knew that, or perhaps you always suspected that the folks who raised you weren’t your biological parents. If that’s the case, I can help you find out more about your biological family… and I will honor any conditions you put on sharing information.

Perhaps you’re a first cousin once removed and you’re just discovering your connection to this wild and wacky family that you’re a part of. If that’s the case, we’re all standing by to welcome you with open arms.

What do you need to hear from me? What can I tell you that will help to bridge the gap between “this is cool” and “this is creepy”?

What else can I say in my sharing invitation that can help ease your concerns and your fears?

Tell me, please.

Because my curiosity is eating me alive.


— Your Cousin


Image: Adapted from Johnny Automatic via

  1. Judy G. Russell to projected 2nd cousin, 23andMe internal mail system, sent 15 April 2014.
  2. Judy G. Russell to projected 1st cousin, 23andMe internal mail system, sent 15 July 2014.
  3. Okay, maybe even a lot odd.
  4. Ibid.
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