How To Help Your Adoptee With Genealogy

You can help your child know where he or she came from.

Tom Andriola May 24, 2017
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Genealogy is interesting. It’s especially interesting and arguably of much more significance when it is being done on behalf of an individual who has essentially no information about his or her biological and genetic background. Many adoptees are in that position, and many yearn to find the answers to their roots.

If you’re an adoptive parent, how can you help your child with genealogy? You can certainly start by gathering all of the bits and pieces of information that you know from the process and organizing them. In many cases, there is at least some non-identifying information provided that gives some basic descriptions about the biological mother, and sometimes even the biological father. Some of the official documents could also hold some clues. Piece together what you can to help paint a basic picture.

And then there’s DNA. If your child is amenable to it, you can order a DNA kit for him or her. The practice of DNA collecting for purposes of genealogy has been growing at a rapid pace. Databases of information are growing, and the availability of potential matches are increasing as a result. Personally, I used Family Tree DNA, but there are many others as well–just do a simple Google search.

When the results come back, you’ll receive some general information about genetic makeup, where your ancestors were likely from, for example. You’ll also receive specific information on your close matches, including the likelihood of relative distance to that match (e.g., first cousin, second to fourth cousin, fifth to seventh cousin, etc.), and how many generations back you shared a common ancestor. It’s interesting stuff, and it can really be helpful for an adoptee.

To take it a step further, you can help your child build a family tree with the information you received from the DNA results. has a great program for that. You just start plugging in the information, including the relative distance of the matches, and other potential “suggestions” will pop up based on other family trees included in their massive database. It’s trial and error, but can sometimes be pieced together so successfully that you can track down the biological parent or cousin or someone very close.

Regardless, the compilation of this information can be very helpful to your child. It can help them to gain a much clearer picture of where they came from. More importantly, perhaps, the process itself may serve to strengthen the bond you have with them in a much deeper way.

Need some help with your adoption search? Adoption Detectives may be able to help! Learn more.

For addition help, check out these adoption training videos at the new search and reunion website.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.

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