adoption and genealogy

adoption and genealogy

The desire to understand biological roots as well as finding birth parent(s) and their extended biological families often brings adopted individuals into the genealogical community. How can an adoptee find their biological parents?

adoption: open vs. closed

In an open adoption the biological parents and the adoptive parents know one another and arrangements are made whereby both parties agree to keep in touch. Even if both parties agree not to stay in touch, the adopted individual can easily access their adoption records because the biological parents documented their agreement to allow access.
In a closed adoption, the biological parents and adoptive parents know nothing of the others’ identity and the adoption records are sealed. When the adoptive child becomes of legal age and chooses to seek out their biological parents, it can be tricky. Accessing adoption records is governed by the state where the adoption took place and the laws vary widely from state to state. If a biological parent stipulated no contact, a court order may be required to access the adoption records, and even then, it may not be granted unless there is a compelling enough reason.

adoption registry

An adopted individual may not be able to access their records easily, if at all. So how do they determine their biological roots? To get started, there are many non-profit organizations online that help adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents find answers, such as International Soundex Reunion Registry.

genetic dna testing

DNA testing companies Family Tree DNA and 23andMe are currently working with Mixed Roots Foundation on the Global Adoptee Genealogy Project (GAGP) to help adoptees and their families discover their biological and cultural roots through DNA testing.

“As an evangelist for genetic genealogy, I encounter adoptees all the time,” said Bennett Greenspan, the President of Family Tree DNA. “They want this and, more importantly, they need GAGP. Adoptees have a thirst to know who they are, what they are and why they were adopted. DNA testing offers potential answers to two of those three questions. We hope that as the database grows, more and more matches will be made.”

You can find more information on GAGP here.