This is the first in a series of blog posts on the journey an adoptee takes to find their birth parents.
(All names will be changed to protect privacy)
She Did Everything Right, But Needed More
I first met Renee through my giveaway for an Ancestry DNA test. She had entered, but hadn’t won. I was reading through all the responses about what would make your genealogy research easier. She had replied that she needed to know how to start finding her birth parents. I thought, I can do that for her! So I sent her a message.
I quickly saw that Renee was doing everything right to the best of her abilities. She had taken a 23andMe DNA test and she had sent off for and received her non-identifying information. (See my resources page for more info on non-identifying info.) Renee had applied for her original birth certificate in a state where you have to have a court order to receive it, but she is at least trying. She may or may not succeed, it depends on the decision of the court system.
It’s An Emotional Journey
Renee had also done what I consider to be the very first step in a search, decide on your goals. Based on some information in her non-identifying report, she saw that her birth family might be a little messy. So she decided to wait and see how much more she might want from her search other than wanting to know her story and her family history.
As I always say, searching for birth parents is first and foremost an emotional journey. It’s very important that all searchers take time at the start to consider all the possibilities of what they might find during their search. It’s important to think about how you would feel if you found out negative information about your family story. It’s important to consider what you want out of your search and whether your expectations are realistic. By doing this work ahead of time, when you encounter bumps in the road or negative information, you will already be prepared and be better able to deal with it.
So Renee was all set up to start, but she needed more. I first recommend she upload her 23andMe DNA to MyHeritage, FTDNA, Gedmatch, and Living DNA for free in order to get more DNA matches. 23andMe is a difficult to work with DNA company because they don’t have trees. And unless a DNA match chooses to allow it, you may not be able to see all your shared matches. Shared matches are what gives you the most information.
I just happened to have ordered a second Ancestry DNA kit during my giveaway since they had been on sale, so I was pleased to send that to her. I knew that it was more likely we could make some better progress through Ancestry where there is a larger database of testers and where more people have trees. And I was very excited about working with someone who was willing to put in as much work as she was able.
Renee discovered a DNA match at one of the companies she uploaded to that is in the 2nd cousin range. This was her closest match yet! I recommended she message them to see if we could find out some family tree information while we’re waiting for the Ancestry DNA test results.
And Now We Wait
And now we are the point in this journey where we wait. There is little else to do. Renee has done all of the set up for her search and is ready to go. This means the minute her DNA results come in, we can get in there and start piecing together a family tree from her matches. I can’t wait!
Check back soon for an update on Renee’s story…
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