DNA Advice

DNA testing and adoption

Have you considered using DNA testing to assist with identifying family?

There are now a host of commercial companies offering ‘genealogy’ DNA test kits which can connect you to your birth family and more distant cousins. These tests are so advanced that they can reveal very close family connections and the degree of relationship (consanguinity).  Such tests are now being used by adopted people and others who have for various reasons lost contact with birth family to assist with identifying close kin and ancestral origins.  Such tests can even reveal information about health matters and susceptibility to certain conditions.

However testing can be fraught with potential problems and unforeseen consequences. Issues which have been encountered include ordering the wrong type of test, incorrect interpretation of the results and inappropriate first contact. Mediation and professional support ought to be considered as part of the DNA testing process if being contemplated as a research option.

The following questions ought to be considering before ordering a DNA test kit:

  • What is the question you wish DNA testing to answer?
  • What is the right test to answer that question?
  • Who is the right person (or persons) to take the test?
  • What is the best company to test with?

Other questions you might have include:

  • Will the test reveal if an individual is my parent, half or full sibling, lost cousin, etc?
  • How accurate are the tests?
  • Would a test help overcome restrictions on access to documentary evidence?
  • The parents of my father were both illegitimate; will a test help me find out about who they were?

If you have already taken a DNA test, questions to consider include:

  • Am I interpreting the results correctly?
  • How do I contact my matches and make best use of the testing company site?
  • What is the best way to contact my matches to encourage a positive response and not be rejected?
  • How do I access mediation and counselling to help me navigate this potentially tricky process?
  • Are there other databases I can enter my results into?

Birthlink believe that DNA testing ought to be undertaken only after the pros and cons have been evaluated and ideally with professional support throughout the journey.  Birthlink provide mediation services. If you would like access these contact us at: http://www.birthlink.org.uk/contact/

Remember to enter your details into the Adoption Contact Register for Scotland: www.acr-scotland.org

If you would like advice on the right test to take for your situation, to order a DNA test kit or help with interpreting results then contact genealogist and DNA consultant Alasdair Macdonald at: alasdair@yourscottishancestry.com

Useful web links:

DNA and adoption: http://isogg.org/wiki/Utilizing_DNA_testing_to_break_through_adoption_roadblocks

Site for comparing data from different companies: https://dnagedcom.com/