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Local mother volunteers her passion for genealogy to unite long lost relatives across US

Cindy Doan of Selah volunteers her passion for genealogy to unite long lost relatives across U.S.

SELAH, Wash. -- One local woman has connected more than a dozen people with long lost relatives through her passion for genealogy, giving answers to those who were adopted, placed in foster care, or who were just curious about their heritage. Action News talked with Cindy Doan about her quest to help families.

“I became very ill when I was a teenager and I was not able to go to school and so I had to homeschool, and at that time I spent a lot of time with my grandparents,” said Doan.

The Selah native and mother of three said her intrigue took off from there, going over photo albums and her family tree, quickly developing an interest in genealogy.

Family and friends soon turned to her for answers about their ancestry.

"For some reason I just became obsessed with, 'I want to learn this and I want to do this,’" said Doan.

Becoming one of 18 "DNA Detectives" in a Facebook group two years ago, Doan has volunteered countless hours of online research, using search engines and four DNA databases.

Doan has connected adopted adults with birth parents, long lost siblings, distant relatives, and more.

“It's just something that I can do and I love it,” said Doan, who was also mentored by a genealogy expert.

So far, she has solved 18 cases - some in a matter of days, others requiring months. Doan has created family trees from DNA matches for people in Washington and spanning the U.S.

“Basically I can narrow it down usually to a biological parent,” said Doan.

She helped one 70-year-old woman who was adopted and searching for her family for more than 20 years. Doan connected her with siblings in Seattle and the Tri-Cities last month.

“I’ve become friends with so many people this way and it’s just so rewarding,” said Doan.

The elderly woman nominated Doan for an award from the people search website Spokeo, which recently designated her one of three 'Search Angels' in the country for all of her hard work, giving her a free year subscription to the site.

But with one in 25 U.S. families adopting a child, Doan said it's especially gratifying.

“I can't even describe the feeling,” said Doan. “It's such an amazing feeling to talk to someone who's been searching for years.”

Doan said she has been included in some of the reunions through pictures and videos. She said DNA is critical to a successful search and said the more people who submit DNA to a database, the more likely a close match can be found.

If this is something you're interested in, you can visit Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, 23andme, or FamilyTreeDNA which are used strictly for search purposes.

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