Genetic Testing Adoption Tracing Birth Parents

If you are adopted, you may long to find out about your birth parents, even if you are happy in a loving adoptive family. A family search often begins with finding records of your birth and adoption. Bear in mind that these records may not give you all the information you need in your search for ancestors.

Adoption records typically contain the following information about birth parents:

  • age
  • ethnicity
  • race.

Adoption records may also include information about your birth parents ‘ education level, interests, skills and medical history. Identifying information such as addresses and names are often excluded. Medical information on record is usually outdated because it is rarely updated after the adoption. Genetic testing can help fill in missing information to help you locate your birth parents.

Genetic Testing for Ancestry Research

Genetic testing can be a huge help in your ancestry research in many ways:

  • A DNA test for surname can reveal your biological surname. If you also know your birthplace, your surname can be a valuable tool for locating your biological parents, siblings and other relatives.
  • If you were adopted internationally, many countries have DNA database organizations to help adoptees locate biological parents and siblings. Countries offering this type of DNA assistance include China, El Salvador, North and South Korea, Rwanda and Vietnam.
  • Testing for ancestry provides information about your ethnic and cultural heritage, which may provide clues to help you locate relatives.

Deciding to Trace Your Birth Parents

If you decide to search for your birth parents, you are not alone. More than 60,000 people in the United States are currently searching for biological parents or children. Some of the reasons for this ancestry search include:

  • a need to share genetic or medical information
  • curiosity
  • emotional reasons.

Before beginning your search, it makes sense to understand your reasons and think about whether you would like to have an ongoing relationship with your biological family if you are able to locate them. Counseling can help you deal with the strong feelings that can arise.

Preparing for All Possibilities

Searching for your biological parents may lead to a joyful reunion and a lifelong relationship. Some birth parents, however, do not wish to be found. This does not reflect on their feelings for you; the circumstances of your birth may be painful to them and they may wish to maintain their anonymity.

Even if DNA testing does not lead you to your birth parents, you still may receive many benefits from the experience, including:

  • a stronger ethnic and cultural identity
  • knowledge of your true biological surname
  • possible reunion with biological siblings or other relatives.

Genetic testing can also provide detailed medical information about inherited conditions you may be at risk of developing or passing on to your children. Any medical information gained from your ancestry search can help you to make healthy lifestyle choices to help prevent or delay onset of diseases. It can also encourage early medical screenings to ensure the best possible outcome if you do develop a disease.


Randall, M.C. (2000). Adoptees and genetic information. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the GeneticHealth Web site:

Randall, M.C. (2006). Should you search for your birth parents? Retrieved November 29, 2008, from the DNA Direct Web site:

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