DNA testing can provide vital information on health, genetics and ancestry and advancements in testing mean that adoptees, or other individuals looking for biological parents, can now find clear bloodlines and more definitive answers.
This increase in the number of people wanting to learn about their family trees, and improvements to testing, has meant that there are lots of different companies out there providing some form of DNA testing.
Here we will look at some of the most popular and interesting options to see if they can help adopted individuals find their biological parents.
Family Tree DNA
This company has seen a host of applications for home testing kits because it offers a selection of tests to determine parentage. The Y-DNA Test lets you order up to 111 DNA markers – the more you pay the more you can have – and helps users identify common ancestors in the paternal line.
There is also a Mitochondrial DNA test available that can determine the maternal line although this method tends to only be successful with the more expensive Full Mitochondrial Sequence Test. Once the result ave been determined, the data becomes available on the Family Tree DNA database where users can see details of any matches.
This approach may not come with any guarantees, as 40% of males tested find their biological last name, but it is a great resource for adoptees that have no knowledge at all of either bloodline.
There are pros and cons to Family Tree DNA, on the one hand, it is a great starting point for determining biological parents but, on the other, there is no guarantee of success. Family Finder is slightly different. By testing around 700,000 DNA markers, it can offer more matches and information on your ancestry than Family Tree. The problem is that the links are often less direct.
Users could uncover interesting information about their DNA and find some cousins and potential bloodlines on the database, but there is less chance of finding biological parents. Essentially, this is a tool for those that have already started on their quest to uncover their family tree and want to learn more.
There are some interesting extras with Family Finder, however, that could also be of use. The site offers a population finder, which details your ethnicity, and relationship testing. The latter is where these 700,000 markers really come in handy.
Many relationship tests, such as for half-siblings or biological parents, come back inconclusive because of the limited markers but here there is so much data to compare that it provides a greater level of certainty about your true relationship.
This is the test that is perhaps the most well-known thanks to media campaigns and increased use. Like the other options, there are pros and cons to choosing 23andMe. This large database of users means that there should be plenty of opportunities for matches, and the test is said to have just as much potential for accuracy as Family Finder, but the company tends to be used for different purposes.
Tools like the Ancestry Composition and the genetic health screening are key reasons why users turn to 23andMe – it is less about finding direct relatives and more about understanding the personal genetic code. Also, these health implications mean that some users choose to be anonymous and don’t show up in the database.
Ancestry.com is one of the leading online resources for family tree information and records and now they are offering a DNA test that compliments the program. This could be an interesting add-on for members that want to delve deeper and enjoy greater access to family trees linked to their results, but there is no accurate connection between direct family members and the ethnicity readings of the other companies tend to be more precise. At the moment, this test is more of an extra for genealogists than a helpful aid for adoptees looking for birth parents.
Which test should you choose?
The ideal starting point for most adoptees has to be the Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA because it provides that initial link to a paternal bloodline, but there are benefits to the other options too and it could pay to look into additional tests. The deeper you delve into genetic screening and the more DNA markers you use, the more you can uncover about your ancestry, ethnicity and health.