As I mentioned
, ancestry dot com sells a DNA test which will tell you your ethnic heritage as a set of percentages, which Supersonic Woman bought. But of course, ethnicity is not all that a DNA test can be used for. One of the options on this test is that the website can (if you give it permission) identify other testees who may be related to you, and allow them to contact you. And SSW happened to check the permission checkbox.
And what transpired as a result? A woman named Leslie contacted her, saying that the DNA comparison said they were approximately third cousins. And she asked for help. She had been adopted, and then dumped into the foster-care system after that, and was searching for her birth parents. She had found her birth mother, but that woman turned out to be hostile and unhelpful, making a relationship impossible and adding little but confusion and misinformation to the meager set of data points she had available to track down her father. Leslie didn't have much hope that SSW could do much to help, but she asked for any possible tidbits of clues she might happen to have...
SSW looked at Leslie's picture and saw some resemblance to one branch of her family. She had never before taken any interest in genealogy and knew nothing about how it's done. With practically no useful information from the mother except the guy's nickname and approximate age, and almost nothing else except this bit of facial resemblance and the estimate of consanguinity from the DNA test, SSW set to work tracking down the possible connections in her own family tree. It was frustrating and confusing, with people in different generations frequently reusing very similar names, and several errors to sift out.
And in less than a week... she cracked the case
. She was able to send Leslie the full particulars of exactly who her father was, where he was now residing, what other living family members he had around him -- the whole enchilada. Within a week after that, Leslie had driven several hundred miles and met her father and two brothers and a bunch of other new relatives. And they got on famously.
Leslie was overjoyed, and now thinks SSW is the coolest person around. And SSW, after pulling this off, has essentially gained new family for herself as well, as this whole new group of relatives appears to be full of very warm and accepting people who know how to appreciate someone and show gratitude -- a description that does not fit SSW's more immediate family. As a side effect, SSW got back in contact with an uncle and aunt who she hadn't talked to in years, whom some online family trees had falsely listed as dead. This has been wonderful for SSW; it looks so far like her circle of relatives has received a major upgrade.
We're planning to meet Leslie in September, along with the not-dead uncle and aunt. They happen to live near where Leslie's husband is having a family reunion then. And we might meet the others at some point, as they live in an area that we've tended to visit every few years anyway.
I think this definitely earns the title of Research Badass.