My adoptee search story would be incomplete without DNA testing.
Yes, I found my birth mother’s family through conventional research. But I had to wait many years before I heard about genealogy DNA testing and found my birth father’s family.
The key to my successful search was a Y-DNA test I took through Family Tree DNA.
This test measures certain markers on a man’s Y-chromosome. These markers pass down along the paternal line from father to son.
Most people ordering this test are genealogists who already know their paternal surname. They use Y-DNA testing on themselves or a male relative to identify distant genetic cousins and prove relationships involving their ancestors.
Essentially, I used the test in reverse. I looked for distant genetic ancestors to discover my unknown surname.
Initially, I had one strong match. That man had the same surname as a long-deceased man who knew my mother. It was the breakthrough I needed to find the true story behind my birth.
This was neither the first nor the last time I used DNA testing in my adoptee search. In 1990 I had used parental DNA testing to learn that my mother named the wrong man as my biological father.
After genealogy DNA testing provided this critical new clue, I located my birth father’s family. Then I used a DNA Sibling test to confirm that I had found the right family. I had hoped that the test would also confirm which of five brothers had been my birth father. But this old-technology test used only a few markers and relied on probabilities to reach an answer.
Family Tree DNA users can join DNA surname projects. I joined the project for my father’s surname and now have several strong matches with men of that surname. One of the matches has the genealogical data to identify our common ancestor. My great-great grandfather and his g-g-g-great grandfather were brothers.
When Family Tree DNA founder Bennett Greenspan learned of my success, he asked to interview me. You can now view this interview on YouTube. See
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These tests proved that the DNA sibling test had led me to the WRONG CONCLUSION. Furthermore, they proved once and for all which of the five brothers had been my birth father.
My personal experience plus feedback from dozens of other adoptees has convinced me that the old DNA sibling test is often useless in an adoptee search.
Bennett Greenspan from Family Tree DNA also wrote the Foreword for the new book about my search. He called it a "fascinating, inspirational, and highly personal account."
He went to to say that the book was "a thrilling saga that should serve as a roadmap for anyone seeking the who and why of an adoptee’s birth."
The book is called Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
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