Searching For Birth Family? What To Do With Your DNA Test Results

Don’t get discouraged if there is not an immediate match on the databases to which you shared your DNA profile.

Jennifer Mellon October 28, 2017
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Many individuals who were adopted come to a point in their lives when they seek more information about their birth family.  There are many options to explore in assisting your search process, such as a adoption registries, private investigators, or DNA testing. Advances in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) have made it easy, accessible, and affordable for adoptees to use this technology to search for and find their birth relatives.

DNA Options

Thanks to the new advances in DNA technology, many new companies have come to market over the recent years offering affordable options in testing. They range from $69 to $399 depending on the test and the various additional options you select. Many search and reunion experts suggest utilizing the most popular DNA and ancestry databases to have the best odds in connecting with extended family or birth parents. Some companies to explore are 23andMe, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and FamilyTreeDNA.

How Does It Work

Most of the DNA testing companies in the market today make the process very easy.  Once you place the order online, you will receive a kit in the mail. The kit will include information on how to register yourself online, complete the test, and send it back to their company for the results. Some kits require you to fill a small vial with saliva and others are a traditional cheek swab test.  Most testing sites will send your results back to you via email within a few weeks.

Results Are In

Once you receive your results, which include your ancestry, ethnicity and some genetic markers for future diseases, carrier information, and other medical results, you often have the free option to add your information to their ancestry database. Once you allow your information to be shared, you will see the percentage of DNA shared with individuals who have also taken the test and shared their results. You will have an option to ask people to connect, share more of your profile information, and dialogue directly with DNA matches from the respective site. Most sites also share potential family members based on the percentage of DNA shared (i.e. this person is likely your aunt). This can make it very easy to continue along the search and reunion process by gathering information from matches and getting you closer to finding your birth parents or siblings.  Remember, the more databases of which you are a part, the more likely you are to find matches.

When There Isn’t A Match

Don’t get discouraged if there is not an immediate match on the databases to which you shared your DNA profile.  Just as it took this long for you to complete the process, it may take your biological family members longer. Continue to check into the site and be sure to sign up for notifications via email so you are aware of close matches as they are uploaded to the database.

The DNA testing you completed can also be incredibly helpful if you utilize other avenues in your search and reunion process.  A private investigator, adoption registry, or social media search may connect you with individuals who you believe to be your birth family members.  This can be confirmed by them also completing a DNA test and ensuring the results match.

Regardless of where you are in the process or the outcome, remember to be patient, stay positive, and good luck on the journey!

For more help with adoption training, check out the new adoption information website.

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Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.


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