How DNA Can Help with Your Adoption Reunion Search

There have been many technological advancements in the past 40 years that have helped those who are searching for their birth family members. The internet is a prime example: it was created in the late 1980s, universally adopted in the early 2000s, and is responsible for such indispensable tools as email and social media. Around the same time, DNA testing and profiling became more commonplace. In this article we talk about the science of DNA, the technological advancements that have happened in the field, and how it can help those who are taking part in an adoption reunion search.

What is DNA?

Let’s begin by describing deoxyribonucleic acid using the easiest possible terms: DNA is a large number of atoms stuck together that form a molecule shaped like a long, spiralling ladder. Inside that molecule is our genetic 'code' or recipe, and it is found in every living organism. In fact 99% of the DNA sequences in the human genome are identical, and it’s the remaining 1% that offers distinct information related to a person’s heritage. This is because DNA traits are passed down from generation to generation.

Deoxyribonucleic acid was discovered in 1869 by Swiss-born biochemist Fredrich Miescher but it took about 80-years for its importance in genetic inheritance to be fully realized, and another 40-years before DNA testing became an important tool in such things as paternity tests.

How DNA and Adoption Are Linked

Everyone inherits DNA from their parents and sequences of DNA can be shared between relatives. The more DNA that is shared, the closer the relative is to you. Knowing that, let’s consider a scenario where a woman who was adopted as a child is looking for birth relatives and gets a DNA test done. She uploads the data that results from that test to the global adoption reunion registry and it is discovered that her results are a very close possible match to a set of data uploaded by another man. The two reach out and learn they are birth siblings by verifying other details related to the adoption.

It’s important to note that in this scenario, and in all scenarios, a DNA test is one of many tools used by those embarking on an adoption reunion search. Getting a test done isn’t a guarantee you’ll be successful, but when combined with traditional genealogy research and a registry database, your chance of success greatly improves.

For more specific information about how to use an adoption reunion registry, read our article “What is an Adoption Reunion Registry?

What is DNA Testing?

It is very easy to have a DNA test done because deoxyribonucleic acid is found in every one of our cells. Typically, though, DNA is collected using a sample of hair, skin, saliva, or a pinprick drop of blood. The next steps can be simplified down to the following: enzymes are added to the sample and they act as scissors, cutting the DNA into the smaller segments that are different between individuals. Those are then sorted, a stain is applied to allow for visualization, and then all of this is exposed to x-ray film. The resulting pattern of DNA looks like a supermarket bar code and each individual has a signature code.

How to Do a DNA Test

There are now multiple companies that offer affordable, at-home DNA testing kits including:

  • MyHeritageDNA
  • 23andMe
  • FamilyTreeDNA
  • AncestryDNA

You simply need to register, order a kit, follow the instructions, return a sample to the company, and in less than a month you should receive your results.

Should You Have Multiple DNA Tests Done?

There are those who choose to have tests done by multiple companies, but you can expect results will be consistent no matter who does the testing. Our suggestion is to choose one company to do the test and then download the resulting data (available inside your online account). You can upload this data to Adopted.com, who are working to create relationships with all major registries to support your looking for matches across other registry databases without having to test in multiple locations.

What Role Does the Adoption Reunion Registry Have in This Process?

As the adage goes, there is strength in numbers. Adopted.com has over a million registrants around the world—people who are looking to connect with their birth families. There are also supportive elements like community forums, testimonials, success stories, and multiple search options including searching by name. While most DNA testing companies simply provide the service of DNA comparison, Adopted.com offers the ability to upload DNA data and cross-reference the growing database of profiles.

What Are Some Other Benefits of DNA Testing?

The results from a DNA test are not only valuable for adoption reunion searchers, they can also provide valuable information related to your health. For example, DNA results can let you know if you are predisposed to certain genetic conditions, illnesses, and diseases such as cancer. Beyond that, it can be interesting to learn what your ancestry is and to trace its timeline back multiple generations.

How To Incorporate DNA Testing Into Your Adoption Reunion Search

  1. Order a DNA test kit from one of the companies found on your Adopted.com DNA page, or any other company you prefer.
  2. When your package arrives, follow the instructions for taking a DNA sample, and then mail it back to the company.
  3. While you’re waiting for your results, sign up to the global reunion registry (Adopted.com) and create a profile (if you haven’t already done so).
  4. Once you receive your DNA data, upload it to Adopted.com to see if there are any leads for your search.
  5. Remember that a DNA test isn’t a guarantee for success. It’s simply a tool that, when combined with traditional genealogy research and a registry, helps improve your chances of connecting with your birth family.

For More Information

To learn more about DNA testing, visit our info page at adopted.com/dna-matching.