Utilizing DNA testing to break through adoption roadblocks

From ISOGG Wiki

Adoption is a gift of the heart.

Whether it is a child adopted by parents who are unable to conceive, or a step-father who lovingly adopts and gives his surname to his wife's children, these situations are almost always altruistic.

While love is involved, and the participants may not wish to cause any hurt feelings, it is a fact that humans are naturally curious about their origins. Sometimes, it is not a case of curiosity, but, rather, the need to know their origins for medical reasons. Genetic testing may be a solution to solve the adoption roadblocks of the present, while genetic genealogy may solve the mysteries of the past.

To begin, we will share the story of Chris Scott, who has successfully used genetic testing and genetic genealogy for seemingly insurmountable adoption brick-walls. Chris's parents never told him that he was adopted. Chris discovered his adoption papers one day, and after recovering from the resulting shock, decided not to confront his mother.

After his parents passed away, Chris decided to search for his birth family. Through the kindness of strangers, he had the names of his birth parents. He located and contacted his birth mother's family, but was met with obstacles in locating his birth father. After hiring a private investigator, it was discovered that the birth father's name was fabricated.

So Chris turned to DNA testing.

Siblingship tests confirmed that Chris' siblings were related to him, but Y chromosome DNA tests ruled out his birth mother's husband as his genetic father. Chris has strong evidence as to who his birth father actually is, but he still needs the DNA match with the family to provide the proof. He has established DNA surname projects to assist, but is now resigned to being patient until a match turns up.

For more on Chris' search, visit his website.

Beginning the search

To begin the search for your family, sign up for as many free resources as possible:

Sign up for adoption lists that apply to you.

If you know your families' surnames, try posting messages on the Genforum and Rootsweb message boards and mailing lists. (Genforum also has boards for "Adoptions" and "Success Stories" regarding adoptions.)

If you're in the US you may also try finding your family by searching the database at Zabasearch. Other recommended US directory databases to search: or Switchboard.

If you were conceived from an egg/sperm donation, join the

Utilizing DNA testing

To utilize DNA testing in your search, enlist as many possibilities that may apply to you:

Sign up for testing with Touched By Adoption - The World's First FREE DNA Database

If you are a male, you may utilize DNA surname testing with Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA also offers Ysearch, which is a free databases where you can upload your results to compare your results with people who have tested with other companies. Select the tests with the most possible Y-chromosome markers.

If you are female, mtDNA testing can provide clues to your ethnic origins. Family Tree DNA profiles Susan King's mtDNA testing success in their online video. (Susan's mother was adopted, and Susan knew nothing about her origins or ethnicity.)

Whether you are male or female you should order an autosomal DNA test which will give you matches with genetic cousins on all your family lines. It is recommended that adoptees should test with the three big companies 23andMe, AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA. To get the best value for money you should pay the full price to test at 23andMe and AncestryDNA. When you have your AncestryDNA results you should take advantage of FTDNA's autosomal DNA transfer program to add your results to FTDNA's Family Finder database.

When testing with Family Tree DNA, order your kit through their Adoptees DNA Project to receive discounted group pricing. Be sure to watch Richard Hill's DNA testing adoption success story.

Check out for more DNA testing resources.

Adoption success stories!

"Back in 2001 when we first started, I had an e-mail from a gentleman who asked me if DNA could help him, although his surname was not Boone or a variation. He said that when he was 53 years old, his mother told him his biological father was a Naval Lt stationed in FL with the Boone surname, but she had not had any contact with him since then and she had no idea of his ancestry or whereabouts.

I told him we could check his Y-DNA to see if it would match any of our other Boones, and it matched exactly (25/25) with the Thomas Boon-Isle of Wight line that arrived in America in the last decade of the 1600s. He said he was so glad because he always felt different in the family he was raised in and carrying their surname. He took the certificate from Family Tree DNA and presented it to the judge when he legally had his name changed to Boone a few months afterward.

We also had another gentleman with a different surname. He said his father was adopted as an orphaned infant and his name was changed. As an older gentleman, he was told of the circumstances and he wanted to know if DNA could help prove if he was a Boone. His Y-DNA did prove that he was a Boone because he matched exactly (37/37) with a couple more of our participants that had their ancestry researched back to the early 1700's in Antrim, Ireland. One of those other matches was also able to connect Mr. Boone to his early ancestors back in Pennsylvania."

- Contributed by Dell Boone Ariola - Administrator for the Boone DNA Project

"I had a man with a Scottish name ask to take a 12 marker Y-DNA test in the Mock group. The man said that his family lived on a farm near a Mock and that his mother married this Mock after he was born. He had heard rumors and accusations since he was a child that this Mock who became his step-father was actually his birth father and he wanted to confirm or deny the rumors. He told me that if he was a Mock, he would be descended from a particular line. He said that if the test proved that he was actually a Mock, he would change his name to Mock. After receiving the results of the test, we found that even with only 12 markers, he matched his predicted Mock line 12/12."

- Contributed by Doug Mauck - Administrator for the Mock DNA Project


Our deepest thanks to Chris Scott, Dell Boone Ariola and Doug Mauck for sharing their inspiring stories!

See also