New DNA databases are making it possible for taken children and their biological families to find each other.
Every year thousands of children are taken. Strangers kidnap some of them. Others disappear through parental abduction in custody disputes.
Many more children disappear through forced adoptions initiated by child protective services. Sadly, this sometimes occurs through false allegations or a vague definition of abuse.
Yet even when a termination of parental rights is necessary, there typically are aunts, uncles, grandparents and other family members willing and able to care for the children. Yet each year thousands of children are given to strangers and cut off entirely from their biological families.
Biological bonds are strong. Taken children remember their lost families. And those families never forget these children.
Years later, often when the child reaches the age of 18, they try to find each other. But as with children of voluntary adoption, sealed records and uncooperative bureaucrats stand in the way.
New low-cost DNA tests, designed to help genealogists trace family trees, have already reunited thousands of adoptees with their biological families. These same tests can reconnect victims of forced adoption and other taken children.
Since families know that these children are likely to search for them, any close family member can make the matching process easy by getting tested now. Then, whenever the child is able to test, a close match will be waiting.
One close biological relative of the taken child’s family uses this link to order the Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA. The tested person can be a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent or cousin to the child. The price of the test is less than $100.
Submit your email address at checkout. When the test kit arrives, follow directions to gently collect some DNA from inside your cheeks. Send the sample back in the reply envelope.
A few weeks later, you will be notified by email that the results are ready. Log into your private account with the kit number and password provided. Your DNA will be compared to hundreds of thousands of people who already took this test and then to everyone who takes the test in the future.
Everyone who shares significant DNA with you will be listed, usually with real name and email address. You may be surprised at how many matches you get.
Most of these matches will be distant cousins of varying degree. If you’re interested in genealogy, you can contact individual matches by email to compare notes on your family trees. That’s what most people are doing.
Eventually, after your missing child takes the Family Finder test, you will get a new, close match at the top of your list. The child will also see your name at the top of his or her list. Then either one of you can initiate contact by email.
Family Finder is actually one of three powerful “autosomal” DNA tests. The other two are AncestryDNA and 23andMe. By encouraging people in this situation to use Family Finder, I am hoping to spare you the cost of doing three separate tests.
If you have the funds and wish to cover all your bases, you can certainly do all three tests. Just follow my links above.
Another option is to upload your Family Finder results (for free) to a site called GEDmatch.com. This allows your DNA to be compared with that of people who took any of the tree tests and uploaded their data.
Since most people don’t take advantage of GEDmatch, this upload step does not provide the complete coverage of being in all three databases. But it’s a good move at no additional cost.
The current system that favors forced adoption to strangers over placement with biological relatives needs reform. Those working for change use #TAKEN to symbolize this worthwhile cause.
To view a photo album of #TAKEN children click here.