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Welcome to The DNA Guide for Adoptees: How to use genealogy and genetics to uncover your roots, connect with your biological family, and better understand your medical history. If you are an adoptee, there’s likely missing information about your past and you hope to change that. You’ve come to the right place!
This book is for you if you have hope that DNA testing might open up the search for information about yourself, your origins, and your future. We’ve worked hard to compile the resources in this book and explain in plain English how DNA and genealogical records fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. In the chapters that follow, we’ve created a place for you to turn as you come face-to-face with questions about health, ancestry, biological family, and DNA.
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Why DNA testing, and why now?
DNA testing is a game-changer for people researching family connections. Many recent advances have made it possible for adoptees to search for answers more easily than they could have done even a few years ago. Consider the following changes:
- At-home DNA tests have grown in number and dropped in price.
- Millions of people use software to build and track their family trees and share results online.
- Billions of vital records, legal files, and other documents are available online.
- Social networks and search engines make it easy to find and connect to people all over the world.
- Adoptees are sharing their DNA stories publicly, through television shows and other media.
While advances in DNA testing are exciting and useful, there are real limitations, and we will be the first to acknowledge that DNA doesn’t hold all of the answers for everyone. Nevertheless, it plays an important role for adoptees hoping to learn more about themselves and their genetics. In some cases, DNA testing has helped adoptees discover unknown medical risks, which is invaluable in situations where little or no family health history is available.
You may have already started down the path of DNA testing, or it may be entirely new to you. No matter where you are starting, we have worked to make the information in this book interesting, useful, and easy to understand. We include real-life examples, fictionalized scenarios, and advice we’ve gathered from adoptees to make this book relevant no matter your prior experience with DNA.
Why this book?
As two women active in the genetic genealogy community, our decision to work together on The DNA Guide for Adoptees came from a desire to provide a comprehensive resource about DNA testing that pulls everything into one place. What you learn from testing your DNA can have a profound impact on you, your family members, and even future generations.
Information can be a powerful thing. As mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses, and friends, we have seen how the discovery of new information can impact relationships. As writers and professionals with unique and diverse experiences in genetics, genealogy, and counseling support, we also know the journey through DNA and a search for family can be emotional for many people. We have worked professionally and personally with adoptees, and we understand some of the unique challenges you face. We’ve done our best to present material to you from a place of understanding and compassion.
This book will provide you with practical advice on topics such as medical and genealogical DNA testing, handling emotional aspects of the search, and recommended resources to help take your research efforts to the next level. What helps one person may not be relevant for others, so we cover different approaches suitable for different situations.
About the Authors
Brianne Kirkpatrick, MS, LCGC is a licensed and certified genetic counselor with a medical genetics background who now specializes in the area of ancestry testing. She is the founder of Watershed DNA and has worked with clients who are impacted by adoption, donor conception, and NPE (not the parent expected) discoveries. Brianne first used genetic genealogy for her own family research and writes and blogs to help others understand the various types of genetic testing. She is passionate about helping others to understand DNA and encourages clear and compassionate communication around sensitive family topics. has worked with clients who are impacted by adoption, donor conception, and NPE (not the parent expected) discoveries. Brianne first used genetic genealogy for her own family research and writes and blogs to help others understand the various types of genetic testing. She is passionate about helping others to understand DNA and encourages clear and compassionate communication around sensitive family topics.
Shannon Combs-Bennett, QG, PLCGS is an author and lecturer within the genealogical community. She writes and speaks nationally and internationally on a variety of traditional genealogy topics and genetic genealogy. Shannon is the founder and owner of Trials and Tribulations (T2) Family History where she works with clients to solve their genealogical, and genetic, questions. She earned her BS in biology and is currently earning her MSc in Genealogic, Heraldic, and Paleographic Studies. Shannon’s book Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes won the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Silver Award and the Mother’s Choice Award for hobby books in 2017. won the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Silver Award and the Mother’s Choice Award for hobby books in 2017.