Advanced DNA: Adoption & Unknown Parentage

This workshop is intended for people searching for their own biological parents and those with parents or ancestors who were adopted or otherwise have unknown parents.  Participants should have some familiarity with DNA testing, although one of the presentations provides an introduction to DNA.  Attendees are encouraged to have autosomal DNA testing done with at least one of the following companies before the workshop–AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, or 23andMe–to get the most out of this workshop.

Talk 1: Introduction to Using DNA to Find Birth Families

This provides an overview of using DNA to find birth families, including privacy issues and the types of DNA to test:  autosomal, Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA, and X-DNA.  Selecting companies to test with and transferring DNA results between companies is also covered.  It also discusses a seven-step process for using DNA to find birth parents.  Weaving DNA evidence with non-DNA evidence, such as non-identifying information and original birth certificates, will also be examined.

Talk 2: Steps to Finding a Birth Parent with DNA

This session outlines a seven-step process for using DNA.  This is often an iterative process with steps repeated.  In general, the following steps are used.

  1. DNA test the adoptee.
  2. Find related DNA matches: shared matches/in-common-with matches to form one or more genetic network (GN) of related matches.
  3. Predict matches’ relationships based on amount of shared DNA.
  4. Review matches’ trees to find common ancestors for the GN.
  5. Build trees back to common ancestors and then forward in time to relevant time of birth parent.
  6. Develop and test hypotheses for the birth parent.
  7. Reach out to members of birth family.

Talk 3: Case Study 1-– How an Adoptee’s Offspring Found His Birth Father

[EXAMPLE–ANOTHER CASE MIGHT BE USED]  Hear how DNA testing of an adoptee’s offspring helped find the birth father of an adoptee born in 1927. Methods used include analyzing autosomal DNA test results of his offspring, determining most likely relationships to her DNA matches, finding additional matches at another DNA testing company, building matches’ family trees up and down, forming a leading hypothesis based on the evidence, and locating living people to test the hypothesis.

Talk 4: Case Study 2

[EXAMPLE–ANOTHER CASE MIGHT BE USED] This case covers a woman who found her birth father using autosomal DNA.  Learn how she was able to find her birth father using DNA matches, their trees, and a lot of old-fashioned detective work.