Adopting a child can prove a difficult and time-consuming process. In these times of controversy and legal confusion, DNA testing can provide some peace of mind.
Performing a DNA Test before Adopting
Before adoptive parents can become the legal guardians of a child, the birth parents must willingly and knowingly consent to the adoption. This can become tricky if a child is cited as an orphan, or if the birth parents are unknown. DNA testing has helped tremendously in these adoption cases. DNA testing can:
- help locate birth parents to obtain consent for adoption
- prove biological paternity before allowing a father to give up his rights to a child
- provide genetic and medical information about a child to adoptive parents.
Often, even with the consent of both biological parents, many adopting families request a DNA test under the guidance of their attorneys. This can help to avoid any potential legal problems that could arise in the future.
Adoption and Family Tree DNA
DNA testing can also be useful after an adoption is completed to help reconstruct a broken family tree.
- Adoptive parents may use DNA testing to track down biological siblings of their child who were separated during the adoption process.
- Some adopted children opt to use DNA testing to locate their birth parents and other biological relatives once they are grown.
International Adoption Challenges
When adopting internationally, it is important to understand the country?s adoption policies. In some cases, these policies can be very different from those in the United States.
Many countries give biological parents the rights to their children unless they sign consent for adoption. However, some children do not know the identity of their birth parents, or are assumed to be orphans. When these children are adopted, the adopting families can run into custody problems. Sometimes the birth parents decide to reclaim custody of their children after they have been adopted. Because the birth parents did not sign any consent, the issue became a troubling international concern. Ultimately, most of these children are returned to their birth parents.
DNA Testing in International Adoptions
In response to the difficult questions about custodial rights to children adopted internationally, The United States now requires DNA testing for all adoptions from these countries:
- Guatemala: Since there is no regulated adoption process in Guatemala, A DNA test for Guatemalan adoption is now required to prove the relationship between a birth parent and child. In addition, a second DNA test is required to prove the identity of the child when applying for a visa.
- Vietnam: DNA testing for adoptions in Vietnam is required for all children and birth parents. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services require DNA to prove a relationship between biological parents and a child before the child is adopted.
Some additional international adoption laws require DNA testing in order to ensure that a child has not been abducted or been subjected to human trafficking.
American Pregnancy Association .(2006). Paternity testing for adoption. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from the American Pregnancy Association Web site: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/adoption/PEAdoptionPaternityTests.html
DNA Diagnostics Center. (2008). Adoption services. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from the DNA Center Web site: http://www.dnacenter.com/partners/adoption.html
Genelex Corporation. (2008). Reasons for paternity testing. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from the HealthandDNA.com Web site: http://www.healthanddna.com/dna-learning/faq-paternity-reasons.html
Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. (2008). USCIS implements required DNA testing for Vietnamese adoptions. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from the e-US-VISA.com Web site: http://e-us-visa.com/forums/uscis-latest-immigration-news/207-05-29-2008-update-uscis-implements-required-dna-testing-vietnamese-adoptions.html
Orchid Cellmark. (2008). Adoption testing. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from the Orchid Cellmark Web site: http://www.orchidcellmark.com/adoption/
U.S. Department of Stat.e (2007). U.S. embassy in Guatemala adds second DNA test to adoption procedure. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from the USA.gov Web site: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3751.html