DNA testing and adoption

9 Apr 2021 | News

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:

  • 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 please get in touch.

Remember to enter your details into the Adoption Contact Register for Scotland.

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, please contact mail@birthlink.org.uk 


Useful web links

For DNA and Adoption advice visit the International Society of Genetic Genealogy website.

To compare data from different companies visit DNAGedcom.