When the odds aren’t in your favor, you need all the help you can get. When the laws are unjust, your personal truth is hidden from you, and the answers you need are available but not to you, any extra assistance you receive could make all the difference. So with all the disadvantages you have going into your adoption search, how do you find your birth parents?
Here are three tools that might help shift the balance in your favor:
1. DNA Testing
With the recent advancement in DNA testing, it is relatively easy now to order DNA tests for the purposes of genealogy. Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry DNA are just a few of the DNA testing services that are available for adoptees to begin their search in earnest. I had been told that I had Jewish lineage on my paternal side, and DNA confirmed it. I was also able to speak with many of my matches to piece together information about my ancestry. While most matches were fairly distant (third and fourth cousins), it has been an interesting journey to learn about and think about what my ancestors were like, where they had come from, and what they may have gone through.
2. Genealogy Websites
Genealogy websites such as ancestry.com, coupled with DNA testing, can prove to be a really powerful tool in helping adoptees to find their birth parents. While it takes patience, probing, and persistence, it can lead to success. On the DNA testing angle, you will receive the names of matches along with how distantly you might be related to them (i.e., second cousin, fifth cousin, etc.). Plugging some of those names into the family tree applications of genealogy websites could help you narrow down and even finalize your search! While I haven’t personally done much work using the family tree angle coupled with DNA testing, I know adoptees who have done it and obtained the results they were looking for.
3. Social Media
Social media is another great tool to use in your search. Perhaps you have little bits of information, certain clues that you can use to piece the truth together. For me, on my birth mother’s side, I was fortunate enough to have a last name to start. When I did a search of the last name, there was only one household within a 100-mile radius of where I was born with that last name. I sent a letter, and it turned out to be her parents’ house!
On my birth father’s side, the search was a little tricky. I had his full name along with his middle initial, and I knew where he went to college. However, his name was a very common one, and it took some work. The alumni database for the college had the name, class year, and state of residence listed, but not his address or other contact information. In my search, I found only one person with his name, including middle initial, in his state of residence. DNA testing further helped me to confirm what I thought to be true because I knew he was Jewish, and my DNA markers came back as positive for Jewish lineage. To find my siblings, I was able to use Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites to connect the dots by finding mutual friends, places of employment, news articles, and other sources. As a bonus, I have been able to learn about what they were like, whether they were married or single, or if they had any kids.
If you’d like professional support in conducting your adoption search, Adoption Detectives can help. Click here for more information.