Genetic genealogy has been a God-send for adoptees, especially those who have had no luck unsealing records or otherwise determining their parentage. I write DNA reports for lots of adoptees. There is nothing more rewarding than an adoptee “happy ending,” someone who has found their family. Nothing makes you appreciate your family more than working with people who can’t find theirs.
Men, especially, are fortunate, because the Y chromosome typically follows the surname, which means that they may have a very strong match with a specific surname. Even though this doesn’t identify the specific person, it’s certainly a very large step in the right direction. In more than one case, it has led us ultimately to the right person, confirmed by additional autosomal tests on family members.
Nearly all adoptees take the autosomal tests as well, Family Finder at Family Tree DNA and the 23andMe test. This allows them to fish in two pools and both provide a list of matches. The new Ancestry.com test, even though it’s new and we have no experience working with it yet promises a third pool for adoptee fishing.
Genetic genealogy for adoptees is slightly different than for the rest of us. For adoptees, you’re not so much looking for older genealogy, you’re looking to use common autosomal DNA matches to identify any common ancestor between two matches, then use that information to track the family forward in time. You’re ultimately looking for very recent genealogy, their parents.
A group recommended for adoptees doing DNA testing is AdoptionDNA in the Yahoo groups. This site includes search angels and folks who are developing specially designed software to work with adoptees matches Gedcoms.
Dick Hill, a genetic genealogist, himself an adoptee, succeeded in finding his birth family. His story is particularly inspiring, and his book, Finding Family, will be released shortly. Dick created this website to assist other adoptees with information and free resources. http://www.dna-testing-adviser.com/
Here are some additional resources for adoptees:
Watch for new programs from the Mixed Roots Foundation beginning in the fall of 2012 including the Global Adoptee Genealogy Project. http://www.mixedrootsfoundation.org/
Thanks to both Cece Moore and Dick Hill for providing information about adoptee resources.