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October 2021   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month   

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The Rise of DNA Testing and its Impact on Adoption Search and Reunion

Advances in scientific technology have made DNA testing kits widely commercialized and accessible, and their popularity on social media has boomed. This created new opportunities for the adoption community to find birth relatives independently—whether they registered with a search service or not. In these situations where individuals may not work with or have support from adoption professionals, it is important that they know what to expect and can prepare themselves for the emotional journey that lies ahead.

To supplement a search via DNA test kits, adoptees can find information through their original birth certificate/records. As open adoptions have become more prevalent and adoptees continue to advocate for access to the original birth certificate, some States have changed their laws making it easier to obtain this information. According to Information Gateway’s Access to Adoption Records publication, 20 States and the U.S. Virgin Islands will allow access to the original birth certificate upon request from the adopted person. In 19 other States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Guam, adoptees can gain access to their original birth certificate if a court order is obtained. As a result of these law changes, adoptees and birth parents are searching for—and finding—each other more easily. However, even if the search is easier, there are still important items to consider prior to the reunion.

Before an adopted person begins his or her search, it's important to have a thorough understanding of the reasons for searching, realistic expectations, and a support system in place throughout the process. To help prepare individuals to conduct their search and reunion, they may determine their goals:

  • What are you hoping for if you connect with a family member: social/medical background, family history, to know they are okay, a relationship?
  • How do you envision future contact with your birth family?
  • What kind of boundaries do you want to establish when you connect?
  • What information are you comfortable sharing?

Although each person's goals and expectations may differ, it is important to understand that the birth relatives being sought after may not be ready or able to connect. Therefore, equipping adoptees for positive or negative reactions from current family members, as well as from the birth family and the birth family's family, is crucial. Also, identifying personal connections and local support groups can provide emotional support and guidance while waiting for life-changing answers.

3 Resources About DNA Testing and Adoption Search and Reunion

Impacts of DNA
Testing on Adoption Search and Reunion


By Center for Adoption Support and Education


Best Practices for Connecting with Birth
Family via DNA Search

By Children's Home
Society and Lutheran
Social Service
of Minnesota


Searching for
Birth Relatives

By Child Welfare
Information Gateway



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