The fact that I am Cajun and all my DNA matches are Cajun makes it a little bit more difficult to do searches. One of the reasons I did DNA was to be able to separate people who are related to me on my mother and my father’s side. Well, in Cajun DNA land, that’s not possible. We all actually share ancestors that go back to the 1700s in Nova Scotia. They came to Louisiana, they were a small community, they married within each other. It’s called endogamy.
Religion or an area that is isolated, people tend to marry their neighbors, marry their distant cousins. In some instances, they marry close cousins in the past. And so, when we build a family tree, you realize that once you get back a couple of generations, things to really start to intertwine and it makes it very difficult to separate.
And once I started searching for adoptees’ parents, the first cases I did didn’t involve Cajun DNA. It was someone related to my daughter-in-law, who’s from Virginia. But once I got involved with the Cajuns, I realized that it wasn’t so easy to find shared ancestors. You have to dig deeper. You have to dig harder. Someone who is a second cousin to someone who has no endogamy in their heritage may match at 220 centimorgans, but a 220-centimorgan match to someone with Cajun heritage might be a third cousin or a fourth cousin. So, you have to go back another generation. You have to search harder. You have to look at one more generation, one more set of children. Cajuns tend to have a lot of kids, and it makes it more difficult.
In these searches, you may encounter someone of Jewish religion. They marry within their religion. That is an endogamous population. Also, people who live on islands such as Hawaii, areas like that, the hills of North Carolina, very difficult to do searches. Canadian, you know, the Quebec area, Nova Scotia, those people tend to stay in that area in the past and those are all endogamous populations.