This article is going to be a long one, but it is going to be full of a lot of information (primarily for adoptees, but can be modified for birth families as well.)
If you are adopted and are looking for your birth family, there is a lot of information that you should gather before you even search in order to make your search a lot more easy. I will list a lot of those tips, hints and helps here. If you know of any that I have not mentioned, please share by emailing me at PirateDixie@gmail.com or in the comments section below.
Best of luck to all of you on your search!
1. Where were you adopted from? Private Agency/state/foster/in-family adoption or something else? Make sure that you know the source of where you were adopted from.
2. How old were the people involved in the adoption? This includes you, your adoptive parents, the birth parents and any other parties.
3. Where were you born? Do you know the city, the state and the county that you were born in? Make sure that you are completely sure.
4. Do you have your original birth certificate? If not, have you sent off for your original birth certificate?
5. Have you created a narrative of your birth story?
6. Have you contacted the attorneys or government agencies that were responsible for facilitating your placement?
7. Have you had a DNA test done? If not, get one done. If money is an issue, you can get a free test done at Genes For Good. If you want to have access to the largest database, Ancestry.com is the one to go with.
8. Do you have any medical issues that have been in place since birth?
9. If you have had DNA testing done, where are all of the places that you have uploaded it to, such as GEDMatch, DNA.Land, etc.
10. Contact everyone that could have information about you and your files-the hospital, your birth state may have a birth index, the ob/gyn, etc. Check everywhere and leave no stone unturned.
11. Ask everyone in your adoptive family for details about your placement and adoption. They may have clues or information that no one else does. Ask publicly, ask privately. Don't be ashamed. It is your right to pursue this.
12. Make detailed notes at the time that you speak to anyone. Trust and believe when I tell you that you won't remember everything. Ask for spellings, dates, locations and anything else that they are willing and able to share with you.
13. Ask for information that was given to either side by the agency, attorney, etc. There may be valuable clues right there as well.
14. Make sure to ask facilitator if other side ever has written, sent updates, want to write or be in contact or any other information.
15. Write down your test kit numbers and keep them with you. Carry business cards to hand out wherever you go.
16. Prepare a medical history for other side as well as a way for them to contact you.
17. If privacy is a concern, create an email only for this search. Make sure that you check it regularly. You can even set up a notice to let you know when you have an email in that account.
18. Have an honest dialogue with yourself. What is the best case scenario of what you would like to happen? What is the worst case? What are your goals for the short, medium and long term? Are you prepared for the outcomes of death, rejection, mental or physical issues? How about if the person that you are searching for does not want to associate with you, but other relatives do-are you ready for that? What if family members or the family that you are looking for contend that you are creating fake documents or similar? Have you considered counseling to delve into these issues if you don't have ready answers to these issues?
19. Have you set aside money to aid in your search? Except for Genes for Good, DNA tests cost money, requesting documents cost money for copies, and writing to places costs time.
20. Are you willing to create notes and notebooks with all of your search information so that you do not backtrack or lose clues?
21. Are you able to provide verifying information to those family members who may doubt you or the veracity of your search? Are you willing to explain that you are not looking for any claim of money or property?
22. Make sure that all of your contact information at all of the sites you are on is current and correct. It would be a shame to invest all of the time and effort only to not have your matches be able to reach you.
23. Be prepared to ask people who say that they match you for proof as well. Some people are not noble, kind or honest. Be willing to ask for (and pay for) a DNA test if you have any doubts. Also, just because someone shares some physical characteristics does not mean that they are related, and the reverse is true as well.
24. You can set up a free web page or blog for people who are looking for you. Don't share every single detail about you, but for people looking, it may be the place they find without going through agencies, etcetera.
25. Prepare yourself now for the "honeymoon" and possibly "backlash". Some who search have never moved past the place in time of when the adoption event occurred. They may still be dealing with some issues. Some may romanticize or "saint" others. Some may "demonize" others. Be patient. Be kind. Make good notes, take loads of photos and create memories. Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. This is an emotional time.
26. Protect your privacy and safety. Although these people are family, until you know one another better, use caution and be safe.
27. Keep originals, make copies to share. I was SO glad I did this one. This includes photos.
28. Reach out for help through social media, adoption support and search groups, DNA search groups and more. Keep track of where you have signed up and check your places regularly.
29. If at all possible, create a family tree.
30. Never EVER give up. Take a break if it gets overwhelming, but don't give up!
This year, National DNA Day in the United States falls on Tuesday. It is pretty much agreed in the United States that the 25th of April is the day that DNA researchers, scientists, genealogists and others come together to bring forward awareness to DNA research.
We are especially mindful of all of the strides that have been made with DNA and in DNA research, starting with the discovery of the double helix in 1953, and the completion of the human genome project in 2003.
Personally, I am grateful that all of the research being done with DNA is being done in my lifetime so that I am able to benefit from it.
I have learned so much about DNA since my test results have come in, and I am not done learning.
This week, I connected with a cousin of mine (4th cousin) who may be from my paternal side. To say that I am excited and pleased is under expressing how very happy DNA tests have made me.
It is my fervent hope to meet my paternal family, and as I get more tests done, perhaps I will. To all of the fruitless searching that I did before DNA, I harbor no ill feelings. DNA has changed my life and me as a person in terms of how I view myself. I hope to write a very long article about it, once I have sorted all of the emotions that I am still going through!
Have a wonderful DNA day, and reach out to a few of your DNA relatives that you have not met yet!
If you have not completed a DNA test yet, don't forget that Genes For Good, through Facebook is still offering free DNA tests through the University of Michigan!
Some of you have been following my nervousness and excitement about participating in the University of Michigan's DNA project, Genes for Good. You can look them up on Facebook. After you join Genes for Good, it is pretty straightforward to "earn" your test.
Take a week or so, answer some questions and then one day, you will have answered enough questions to be sent a "spit kit" in the mail.
From the time that I started on their website until the time that I got the spit kit was between one and three weeks. From the time that I sent it until I got an email saying it had been received was perhaps another week or two. After that, it was about 3-4 months until I got the results. Every single time that I get new DNA results, I now know that I get really giddy and it prompts me to do a lot more online research about the information that I have received. I have now completed two tests. One from Family Tree DNA and now, this one from Genes For Good. My results have a lot of similarities, of course, but they also offer a look at my current information differently.
I do not have family members to compare to on Genes for Good, and to my knowledge, there is no database at this time to link other participants to one another if they are related. I have written to Genes for Good for an answer and I will update this post as soon as I hear if there are plans for that in the future.
As you may have read on my blog, I am a participant in the GenesForGood project. After only a week of participation, I reached the point where I was able to request the spit kit/they automatically send it.
I got the email today that says the kit is in the mail, it can take 2 weeks to get here, please make sure that you sign everything when the kit arrives.
I followed everything that was asked of me to do up until this email, which is answer some questionnaires and fill out some items every day so that they know whether or not I will be a good participant once they mail the kit to me.
I am really excited and will continue to update everyone of my progress as it happens. Very cool and so happy to be a part of this project!
Genesforgood will let me download a copy of my DNA, which I will be uploading to various sites along with my FTDNA.
Here's hoping to many matches!
I love to do stuff for science when I can. Especially when it benefits me as well. (Selfish? Perhaps.)
Anyway, since becoming a DNA hound, I got an email from a friend of mine that is doing the Genes for Good project. This is through the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
To participate, you must go through Facebook. Participation is pretty easy. You fill out some quick and easy questionnaires about your health. Go back every day for the daily ones. After a week or less of doing this, you can qualify for a spit kit, so that they can have a look at your DNA. You test for free. They let you have your raw data via download, so you can do what you want with it. They will share information with you such as your personal ethnic/geographic range of descendants with you as a thank you for helping. If I did not term that well, hopefully, you know what I mean. They will give you an idea of where you came from.
I hope that if you are on Facebook, you will consider helping out with this project. I think it is awesome, and I am doing it.
The first I heard about it, I went to the link above, read all of the information and from there, followed the link to Facebook. You must give Facebook the permission to run the app. I said yes to everything and begin to answer the questions, it was fun, truthfully. After that, I did the dailies for a few days, and the I qualified for the spit kit, where they send the kit for your precious DNA. According to the site, it could be between 2-4 weeks to get here in the mail, but I will keep everyone updated. If I am not too excited, I will try and remember to make a video or at least take photos of the kit when it gets here.
If you do this, please let me know in the comments below!