How Does DNA Testing Work?
There are many companies that offer DNA test kits, which allow you to take a sample of your DNA at home and then send it to a lab for analyzation. These kits tend to run between $100 and $300, depending on the company and the specific test you order.
DNA testing typically requires a cheek swab or saliva sample, which you can take easily at home. The kit you order will come with any necessary equipment and storage, so you just need to swab/spit and then ship the sample to the lab in a prepaid envelope. The only thing to be careful about when taking your DNA sample is to follow the instructions (i.e. don’t eat or smoke a half hour before you take the sample). If you don’t follow the instructions, your results may be compromised.
Just as with price, the amount of time it takes to get your results depends on the company and what exactly you’re testing for.
DNA Tests for Finding Biological Parents and Children
There are many reasons why people do DNA testing—to explore ancestry, confirm paternity, screen for health issues, and to look for biological relatives. If your reason for taking a DNA test is to find children you put up for adoption or to find parents who put you up for adoption, you’ll need to make sure to take the right DNA test.
In this case, the Autosomal DNA test is preferred—it can give you an ethnicity estimate and show you relative matches up to 6 generations on both your mother and father’s sides. Other tests, like YDNA and mtDNA, show you only the paternal line and maternal line, respectively. While you can do the latter 2 tests as well, Autosomal is essential if you’re looking for recent relatives.
Matching Birth Parents with Children Who Were Put Up for Adoption
When you take an Autosomal DNA test, what you’re hoping for is that your biological children/parents also took the test, and entered their results into the testing company’s database. Because the premise of finding a match is based on comparison—the lab will analyze your DNA markers and then compare it to other samples to see if there’s a match. If your relatives haven’t done a DNA test, the lab won’t be able to find one.
The Company You Choose Matters
DNA testing—and matching—is only as good as the company you choose. There are 2 main reasons for this:
A reputable company will work with a higher-quality lab. That means less chance of contamination and more expertise when it comes to sample analyses.
The bigger the company database, the better your chances of finding who you’re looking for. Remember, it’s not just you who needs to take the test—it’s your mother or father. And your chances of finding them are higher if you choose a testing company that has a large database.
Which DNA Test Kits Are Best for Finding Biological Children and Parents?
There are 5 outstanding DNA testing companies that specialize in helping people find biological children and parents. Each one has a slightly different offering, so make sure to do your due diligence and choose the one that suits your needs.
Ancestry has the largest and most diverse user database in the world, which means that choosing this company gives you a great chance at finding your biological children or parents.
When you order a DNA kit from Ancestry, you typically get results in 6-8 weeks. You can then review your DNA matches, which are ranked by how much DNA you share. The most common relationship types include Parent/Child, Immediate Family, Close Family, First Cousin, and Second Cousin.
MyHeritage is one of the leading DNA testing companies in the world; you can use it to search for your biological children or other relatives. When you test with MyHeritage, your autosomal DNA results will be matched with the DNA test results of other MyHeritage users. MyHeritage also has the distinct advantage of allowing people who did DNA testing through other companies (23andMe, Ancestry, and FTDNA) to upload their results as well. The larger the database, the better your chances of finding your family.
People have used LivingDNA test kits to successfully find out who their birth parents are. LivingDNA uses very sophisticated testing and analyzation methods to help people uncover their roots. While most DNA testing companies offer the 3 DNA tests—Autosomal, YDNA, and mtDNA) as separate packages, LivingDNA offers them all in one package. The only downside to this is that results can take up to 12 weeks to get, but if you’re not in a rush, the test will certainly provide you with detailed information.
23andMe offers 2 distinct DNA testing kits—in addition to its ancestry kit, which is known as one of the best DNA ancestry test kits on the market, 23andMe also offers a combo pack that combines ancestry with a health screening test. You may think that since you’re looking for biological relatives, the Ancestry Only option would suffice, but this test doesn’t actually connect you with recent relatives, it just gives your global ancestry composition. When you choose the Ancestry and Health option, you’ll get fairly detailed ancestry and health reports, including results that can help you find your biological children/parents. And by the way, the health reports won’t hurt either, especially if you’re an adopted child and don’t know what diseases run in your family.
If you don’t know much about your birth parents, GPS Origins can be a wonderful tool to help discover where you come from. GPS Origins performs an Autosomal DNA test in which it examines over 700,000 markers to pinpoint the exact location of where your DNA stems from. If you have no leads about your birth parents, GPS Origins can provide a great jumping-off point.
Don’t Give Up
Even if your initial DNA test doesn’t show any biological matches, don’t give up hope yet. DNA testing has only recently become mainstream, so people who haven’t done it yet may still do it in the future. Just make sure to keep an updated version of your family tree, however full or empty it may be. That way, when the time is right, you’ll be ready to fill it in with the answers you’ve been seeking.