5 Questions For Adoptees To Consider Before Taking A Genealogy Test

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The decision for an adoptee to take a genealogy test is not one to be taken lightly. While the results can bring newfound knowledge and connections to biological family members, they can also be emotionally challenging and bring up unexpected questions. Before deciding to take a DNA test for adoptees, there are several things to consider.

Why Do You Want To Take A Geneology Test?

Adoptees have a variety of reasons for wanting to take a genealogy test. Some may be curious about their ethnic heritage, while others may hope to find biological relatives. Many choose to take the test to seek medical information they’re not otherwise privy to.

Whatever your reason, define your motivations. Choose one or more reasons why you’re making this choice and then outline them from most important to least important. This allows you to set realistic expectations and be prepared for any possible outcomes. This can include seeking support from trusted friends or family members, counseling, or adoption support groups.

female therapist speaking with a male patient
Courtesy of Alex Green (via Pexels)

Are You Prepared For Potentially Negative Results?

Prepare for the worst when taking a genealogy test because there’s no telling what you’ll discover. Educate yourself about the potential outcomes and be aware of your mental and emotional health. You may not find any matches or learn uncomfortable truths about your biological family or heritage.

You should ask yourself if you’re emotionally ready to handle the consequences of what you might find. This is especially true if they have a strong attachment to their adoptive family or have little knowledge of their biological parents. It may be helpful to speak with a therapist or counselor beforehand to discuss the potential impact of negative results. 

If you’re learning medical information, be prepared to discover some uncomfortable genetic details. How would you feel knowing which diseases you’re predisposed to? Would knowing this information affect how you live your life? This is an important one because it can damage your mental health if you’re not prepared for how you’ll handle it.

What Will You Do With The Results?

Determine what you plan on doing with the results from your genealogy test. It’s useful for you to know ahead of time what your intentions are. Be mindful that you are in complete control here, even if your biological family reaches out to you. You’re not obligated to meet anyone.

If you do want to track down information about your birth family, think carefully about how you plan to approach any potential reunions. Not everyone will welcome the prospect of meeting a long-lost relative, and it’s important to be respectful of their feelings.

When you discover medical information about yourself, how will you approach that with your doctor, if at all? Remember that inaccuracies are possible with DNA tests for adoptees, so if any concerning medical information comes up, know that you can address this with your doctor. In any case, knowing this information can be useful if you want to reduce your risk of any medical dispositions. 

How Will The Results Affect Your Relationship With Your Adoptive Family?

DNA testing can have both positive and negative impacts on an adoptee’s relationship with their adoptive family. Finding biological relatives may increase your sense of identity and belonging. On the other hand, it may also cause your adoptive family to feel threatened or left out.

It’s crucial to have an open and honest conversation with your adoptive family about their desire to take a genealogy test and what the potential results may reveal.

Adoptive parents may feel anxious or worried about the potential loss of their role as parents, and adoptees need to acknowledge and validate these feelings. Consider involving your adoptive family in the process by sharing your reasons for taking the test, involving them in the search for biological relatives, and maintaining a strong relationship with them. In some instances, seeking therapy together could be beneficial for everyone involved. 

older woman speaking with young woman
Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio (via Pexels)

How Does A DNA Test For Adoptees Work?

If you’ve decided to take a genealogy test, it’s helpful to have information on how it works and what you can expect from the process. The first step is to obtain a DNA testing kit, which is available from testing companies such as 23 and Me or Ancestry. Do some research to find a test that aligns with the information you’re looking for and your expectations.

There are different types of testing available, including autosomal DNA testing, which can help identify common ancestors on both the maternal and paternal sides of the family. There are also more advanced tests, such as mitochondrial DNA testing and Y-chromosome testing, which can provide more detailed information about specific family lines.

The DNA kit you receive includes information on collecting a saliva sample, which is sent to the company for analysis. The testing company will then extract the raw DNA from the saliva sample and analyze it to determine genetic markers that are unique to you. This information is compiled into raw data, which is then compared to other DNA samples in the company’s database to find potential family connections.

You will then receive your information and access to a database. Depending on the company, you can navigate information about your genetic history and family tree.

The decision to participate in genetic testing is not one to take lightly as an adoptee. Using DNA analysis to find your birth parents and learn family history can uncover overwhelming information. Before you take the leap, talk with a support person and consider all the possible results. Remember that at the end of the day, you’re doing this for yourself, and you’re in control.

This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Kate Fann. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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