Genetic Testing Adoption Children

Adoption often creates happy and loving families. However, for many adoptees, it also creates unanswered questions. Frequently, a search for birth records and family history does not provide all the answers an adoptee is looking for. Genetic testing can be a great way to fill in the gaps. Information that adopted children can glean from genetic testing include:

  • biological surname
  • ethnic ancestry
  • identity of biological siblings and birth parents
  • medical information, such as inherited disease risk.

Tracing Cultural Heritage

Many adopted children have no knowledge of their ethnic ancestry. While they may enjoy the culture and traditions of their adoptive families, they may also want to trace their own biological roots. Genetic testing can provide answers about biological ethnic heritage. Some advantages to learning about your ethnic ancestry include:

  • an enriched feeling of ethnic identity and belonging
  • a sense of peace and closure
  • knowledge about risks for inherited conditions that are common in certain ethnic groups.

Finding Your Name

People with the same surname often turn out to be biological family, and it is common to find relatives though surname research. Adopted children, however, usually don’t know the surname of their biological parents. DNA testing can provide adopted children with their biological surname. In addition to bringing a sense of identity and history, this information can help adopted children find their birth parents and other biological relatives.

Reuniting Relatives around the World

Internationally, adopted children sometimes have biological siblings and other relatives they have never met. Genetic testing can help bring them together. A few examples:

  • In 2007, Olympic skier Toby Dawson discovered his roots through DNA testing. Dawson was born in South Korea and became separated from his mother when he was 3 years old. Shortly after, an American couple in Colorado adopted him. Genetic testing helped Dawson locate not only his birth father, but also a biological younger brother.
  • The China DNA Project is working to create a DNA database to help Chinese siblings find one another. This project serves not only children adopted internationally from China, but anyone of Chinese ancestry.
  • The Pro Busqueda association helps children adopted from El Salvador during the civil war of the 1980s find the families they lost. Donated blood samples from local families have created a database that has already brought almost 70 families back together.

Some other countries using DNA testing to reunite biological families include:

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • North and South Korea
  • Rwanda
  • Vietnam.

Recovering Lost Medical History

While adopted children usually receive comprehensive medical care, they often have no health records of their biological family’s medical history. Genetic testing can reveal this hidden information for adopted children. DNA testing can reveal inherited conditions that run in your family or ethnic group, and whether you have a high risk for developing certain diseases.

Medical information can help adopted children have longer, healthier lives by leading to lifestyle changes and early medical screenings for disease. Understanding inherited disease information can also help adopted children have healthy families when they decide to become parents.

Search for Family and Honest Reunions

We have all heard stories of strangers dropping in and claiming to be long-lost relatives. Biological parents who were separated from their children during times of war or other unrest may try to find them in later years. While this can be a dream come true, worrying about whether these “relatives” may be dishonest or just misinformed can be stressful.

Adopted children can use genetic testing to ensure that those who claim to be family are telling the truth. After a DNA test confirms that a family relationship actually does exist between two people, both of them can confidently enjoy reconnecting as family.


Associated Content, Inc. (2008). Family matters: Can adoptees use family tree DNA to find biological fathers and mothers? Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the Associated Content Web site:

Lei, H.H. (2007). DNA testing for adoptees. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the Eye on DNA Web site:

Rincon, P. (2008). Adoptees use DNA to find surname. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the BBC Web site: