Genetic Testing Adoption Birth Parents

Genetic testing has many benefits for adopted children, birth parents and adoptive parents. Relatively simple and painless DNA tests can:

  • determine a child’s biological mother and father
  • help adopted children find ancestors
  • identify risks for many inherited diseases in both parents and children.

Genetic predispositions for many common diseases can be identified by DNA testing for genetic markers. Some conditions that are genetically inherited or influenced by our genes include:

  • certain cancers
  • congenital abnormalities
  • diabetes
  • muscular dystrophy
  • sickle cell anemia.

Genetic Testing for Fetuses and Newborns

With DNA testing, it is now possible to identify many diseases in a fetus or newborn child. These tests can be used by birth parents or adoptive families to establish an accurate medical history for a child. Genetic tests reveal conditions the child has inherited a predisposition for, and can provide information about his risk of developing others. When congenital disorders are identified early, a baby’s chance for survival and a healthy life are often improved drastically. Here are a few facts about genetic testing for the very young:

  • A birth mother’s blood can be screened for different disorders to determine if her baby is at risk.
  • Carrier testing allows each parent to determine if they are a carrier for a certain disorder, such as sickle cell anemia. This type of testing can help parents at high risk of disease (due to their ethnic heritage or family history) have healthy families.
  • Prenatal tests use the baby’s cells to diagnose DNA mutations. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) allow doctors to analyze cells before a baby is born.
  • Newborn tests involve drawing blood from the baby’s heel. Nearly 30 different genetic disorders can now be identified from this type of testing.

These early tests provide vital medical information to adoptive parents. Genetic testing is most beneficial when combined with genetic counseling. Counseling helps people understand their results and deal with strong emotions that may arise.

Medical Benefits of DNA Testing Birth Parents

Birth parents can decide to undergo genetic testing to help their child and the adoptive family. This is helpful for everyone concerned, since biological parents can pass on information about being a disease carrier. The adopted child then knows about his risk of developing or passing on the condition, and the adoptive family can plan their medical care accordingly. Even if an inherited condition or disease risk is discovered long after adoption, birth parents can update records by submitting their information to a database.

Privacy issues should not be a concern. When it comes to adoption and DNA testing, the wish to remain anonymous is respected and protected by law. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted to establish the security and privacy of health data. This act governs of the use and disclosure of information regarding any portion of a patient’s medical record.

Ancestry

Genetic testing can prevent disputes in adoptions, facilitate child support claims and determine a child’s biological mother or father. If a child has been given up for adoption, the biological parents or the child may decide to be reunited. DNA tests can identify an individual’s parents or close relatives. Several tests are available:

  • Maternity tests for mother and child relationships
  • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) for maternal ancestry
  • Paternity tests for father and child relationships
  • Siblingship tests for half or full siblings
  • Twin zygosity tests for identical or fraternal twins
  • Y-DNA tests for paternal ancestry.

Resources

DNA Roots. (2007). Ancestry DNA Testing. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from the DNA Roots Web site: http://www.dna-roots.com/.

Menstuff. (2007). DNA Testing. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from the Menstuff Web site: http://www.menstuff.org/issues/byissue/DNA.html.