Adoptee Resources and Genetic Genealogy

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 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 DNAadoption. This site includes search angels and folks who are developing specially designed software to work with adoptees matches Gedcoms.

Furthermore, I strongly recommend the DNA Adoption group at this link, and their classes for how to work with autosomal DNA, whether you are an adoptee or not.

While not specific to Genealogy, the ISOGG list at Yahoo focuses on Genetic Genealogy.  They also sponsor a Newbie forum if that is more your speed.

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.

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.



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13 thoughts on “Adoptee Resources and Genetic Genealogy

  1. Roberta,

    I have really enjoyed your new blog. You write well and explain things clearly. And I’m glad to see you did such a nice summary for adoptees. Thanks for including the link to my web site, and the Mixed Roots site.

    Richard (Dick) Hill

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  10. Hi Roberta. Thank you for your interesting article.

    I have a question which I hope you could answer

    My wife is adopted. She was handed into an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia when she was one years old. There is no record of any relations or any way in which to trace her back round.

    She is interested to do a DNA test not for the purpose of finding family but to get an idea of her ethnicity. She would like to know if she is actually Colombian and if so whether she has hispanic blood or native Colombian.

    To find this out would a DNA test be worthwhile in your eyes?

    I very much look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Best wishes


  11. Hi there, I don’t know my age and don’t have a birth certificate. Where can I get help and what test s are necessary for age testing?

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