Friday, July 15, 2016

How Can You Support an Adoptee?

I arrived at the idea for this post thinking about all the amazing people I have met, seen and heard through the Facebook room called DNA Detectives.  The group is managed by genetic genealogists who spend hours a day helping total strangers seek out and find their roots - many of these members are adopted.  When I feel myself losing hope in my own search, I log into DNA Detectives and read posts about people who have searched for decades without much to go on, due to sealed records and secrets, but were able to get a breakthrough thanks to autosomal DNA testing.

So, what can YOU do to help an adoptee, even if you are not part of the adoption constellation? You don't have to be a birth parent, an adoptive parent or an adoptee yourself to do a few very important things to help adoptees find their roots.

1.  TAKE A DNA TEST AT ANCESTRY
My ethnic breakdown

Normally, the test at Ancestry cost 99.00 but you can get it on sale for 79.00.  How does this help an adoptee?  Simple -- every new tester in the database is a potential relative of an adoptee who is waiting for answers.  Using your saliva and a simple process of shipping via mail, you can learn of your ethnic breakdown.

Ancestry will also match you with your genetic cousins and statistically, you will be related to an adoptee somewhere on your tree.  Be sure to log in regularly to check for new matches.  Also check your messages both at Ancestry and your Message Requests folder on Facebook. My closest match at Ancestry has not logged into Ancestry in a year and she does not have a tree.  There are other steps to take after you test at Ancestry and joining DNA Detectives can guide you.  An adoptee will thank you for your efforts.

2  BUILD A PEDIGREE FOR YOUR FAMILY

When you have a well-documented tree on Ancestry, you are helping other members research their own genealogy and you are helping adopted people find their roots.  Your tree must be set to Public to help others.  Even when your tree is set to Public, your living relatives cannot be seen by other members -- only your deceased ones.


3. VALIDATE AN ADOPTEE'S NEED TO KNOW

This seems so simple that you are probably wondering why it is even on a list of things to do, which is what makes it so powerful.  Validate in words of support when somebody does not know who their biological family is and is taking active steps to learn about them. My husband always asks people who don't understand an adoptee's plight this question,

"Do YOU know who your mother and father are?"  (usually a yes follows this question).

"So, do I". (if you have ever heard my husband's deep, booming voice, you can imagine the silence that follows.)

4.  SUPPORT ADOPTEE RIGHTS.

This could be as easy as writing a quick letter of support to your state representative or sending money to an adoptee rights organization. Go here to learn more about adoptee rights.

The Adoptee Rights Coalition, which I am a board member, is a group of volunteers (adoptees and friends of adoptees) who travel at their own cost to the National Conference of State Legislatures annually to educate that adoptees' birth certificates are treated differently than non-adoptees' birth certificates in a majority of states in the U.S.  If you are able, please donate to the ARC to fund the NCSL 2017 Boston booth, go here (the donate button is to the far right)

Supporting an adoptee is as simple as words of validation, understanding and participation.

An adoptee in your life will thank you!

7 comments:

  1. I had my DNA tested for this very reason, and I have a fairly well developed family tree, going back about 4 generations and spotty beyond that (thanks to my husbands niece, who started it, and allowed me to add my family, though unrelated to her except by marriage), but I don't know where to go from there.

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  2. Hi Kathy, have you joined DNA Detectives? That would be my suggestion to learn and understand genetic genealogy. Read through their files. Also you can upload your dna results to gedmatch for free which helps testers in other databases. https://www.gedmatch.com/login1.php

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  3. I had my DNA tested earlier this year through Ancestry and have been actively researching for over four months. I've requested to join DNA Detectives since reading this...I had no idea it existed. Thank you! My DNA results initially made me think what little I knew was wrong. I've at least learned one lesson the hard way - never make assumptions or think a clue/lead in unimportant. I'm anxious to learn from the pros

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    1. I also had my DNA tested. I'm a reunited adoptee but my birth mother knows little about her family beyond her grandparents. I did the mtDNA and am unsure how to process the results or even where to begin making connections. Any advice?

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  4. I found my birthmother in 1994 - no work at all but pretty much a miracle how it happened. She was really great, and she passed away the next year. I had met her family but after she passed, they said no contact. Then this year, through DNA, I located my birthfather to find out he passed away 1970. There is a brother but he does not want contact. Not everything is flowers and candy, and not always a happy ending.

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    1. True, but at least you know who they were. Others don't even get to that stage. Perhaps some cousins will pop up for you in the future, who knows.

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