Is this adopted DNA match my niece or half sibling?

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• The adoptee and I have an autosomal total segment of 2138.8 cM the largest segment is 122.6 cM. The X-DNA is 115 total with the largest segment at 95.

• My son matched the adoptee with autosomal 1124.1 with the largest segment of 73.0. The X-DNA is 70.4 with the largest segment at 51.2.

• My niece matched the adoptee with 1604.0 autosomal with the largest segment at 181.7. The X-DNA has only one segment of 195.7.

• My niece matched me with autosomal of 1794.6 with the largest segment of 113.2. The X-DNA total is 114 with the largest segment at 94.9.

I would think the adoptee is my niece. Why would I have a higher autosomal total with the adoptee 2138.8 than my niece 1794.6?

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The adoptee is very likely your niece, specifically the half-sibling of the niece you have also tested. The relationship could be diagrammed as follows:

The X-DNA is key to determining this relationship. A useful article to help understand X-DNA matches is X Chromosome Recombination's Impact on DNA Genealogy.

You know that the adoptee is a nearly 100% half match on the X-chromosome with your niece, meaning they share an X-chromosome. A perfect X-DNA match is 196 cM, and she matches at 195.7 cM. By far the most likely scenario for this to occur is that she is the half-sibling of your niece, and that she inherited the same X-chromosome from the common parent (I'm guessing they share a father).

While the conclusions you can draw from the other X-DNA matches are less concrete, it is interesting to note that you share about the same length of X-DNA with your niece as you do with the adoptee. I suspect that you actually share the same X-DNA segments. This would most likely occur because both the niece and adoptee inherited the same X-chromosome from their father (your brother), and no recombination occurred then.

The autosomal matches are consistent with the adoptee being your niece, considering the values given in the Autosomal DNA statistics table. If the above conclusion is correct, the adoptee is:

• your niece (expected to share 1700 cM, actually share 2138 cM)
• first cousin to your son (expected 850 cM, actual 1124 cM)
• half-sister to your other niece (expected 1700 cM, actual 1604 cM)

As you have noticed, you and the adoptee share more than average autosomal DNA for a niece/aunt relationship (thus it is unsurprising that your son has a larger than average match as a first cousin). With autosomal DNA, the average values are just that – there is a wide range of possible values consistent with a given relationship.

Blaine Bettinger has collected data for his Shared cM Project to get a better idea of what the actual ranges of values for a given relationship may be:

According to Bettinger's data, for the relationships above the ranges are:

• Niece/nephew: 1301-2193 (avg 1744 cM)
• First cousin: 533-1379 (avg 869 cM)
• Half-sibling: 1320-2134 (avg 1753 cM)

Your data and the proposed relationships are all consistent with these ranges.

Autosomal DNA inheritance is very much "luck of the draw". The amount of DNA shared, on average, between half-siblings is the same as that shared by an aunt-niece relationship: 25%. The amount a given person inherits is random, which is the main explanation as to why you share more autosomal DNA with the adoptee than her half-sister does. Note that the adoptee and her half-sister share more X-DNA than you do with her however.

Thank you for your help. This has been a roller-coaster ride for the three of us. Sadly my brother passed away several years ago. My new niece will never meet her father. She does have a very large extended family to meet. – Sharon S – 2016-05-23T02:25:41.097

@ Harry Vervet, My niece is wondering if one of my other brothers could be the father of the adoptee. Is it possible that a first cousins could share this amount of X-DNA total of 195.7cM? I think she is still in the shocked stage. – Sharon S – 2016-06-16T01:03:28.553

It is possible that one your brothers could be the father, yes. But statistically, I would assume that any of their sons/daughters would match the adoptee the same way your son did (around the expected 850 cM range). That your niece matched the adoptee at 1604 cM is so above the first cousin range that the probabilities of them being only first cousins is extremely low. – Joao Ventura – 2018-03-05T08:58:36.713

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You would need to compare the DNA of the two Nieces to see if they are siblings or half siblings (25-50% match generally), if they are not siblings you would need to compare the new nieces DNA to your other brothers.