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Monday, June 2, 2014

Why some adoptees chose to do DNA

By Mary Charles

I somehow don't believe the intention was for us (adoptees) to find our homes using DNA. But when I came across these "family" finders, my journey went full speed ahead.

Being an adoptee, I originally just wanted to know my ethnicity. To confirm what I felt in my heart but I never had access to the truth. I was told my birth father was 1/4 Aleutian Indian from Alaska. At the time, the DNA company also offered medical evaluation to help see if you may possibly carry genes to hereditary diseases. The government stepped in and laid that service to rest.  I literally had no concept of having a relative who shared DNA with me.  I didn't even hope to find anyone when I submitted my spit.
So, I spit in the cup and sent if off last fall. My results were astonishing. My DNA read 51% European and 49% Native American and Asian. That was news.
The biggest shocker was a 25% DNA match that the company saw has me being this man's aunt. We had the same exact birth date only a year apart. He was 99.9% European and an adoptee as well. I did my little chromosome research and quickly concluded that he was my half brother although every search angel, friend and even my half-bro could not believe our connection. I went with my instinct, we made quick friends and he helped me out.  At some point, he was given the name of our birth mother and some notes from Catholic Charities about her. 
It took a few months and I did locate her which was also confirmed through another 2nd cousin on my DNA listed from her family tree. But, this is where making connections and contacting your closest cousins on your DNA list comes in handy. Also, contact cousins who have taken the time to make family trees and have a genuine interest in genealogy. E-mail as many as you can. Some will be so happy to help, others you will hear nothing. When you get names, just send quick emails like, "Hi cousin, do you have so and so on your list?"  Friend them on the social media as well. 
In time my birth mother furnished me the name of my birth father and acknowledged she did indeed adopt out my half brother a year later. When I posted my fathers name on the social media it flew like a wildfire. In a matter of hours I had a gazillion Alaskan Native relatives who wept, called me on the phone and sent photos of my father who died in 1992. They know about us. They do want us back. 
I am now in the process of doing even more DNA tests with my relatives. The State I was born in has closed records and are still defiant. When I sent for my non-ID, they would not provide me with any information on my birth father when I specifically asked for his ethnicity. Concluding, they are still trying to keep us unaware and I find it so very racist. To give me the white card and to think it's OK. 
My father was full blood Koyukon Athabascan. My birth mother has since told me that the hospital asked her what my ethnicity was because they were not sure if I was half "black" at the time. She told the hospital my father was full blood Native and to this very day are still trying to hide it by not providing me with my records. Records they probably falsified anyway by lowering his blood quantum and changing his tribal lineage. Man, wish I could sue their asses. 
OK, back to DNA... my family in AK and I have submitted DNA to provide lineage. The tribe understands that the government won't be of help and will accept our DNA samples for enrollment purposes. I am waiting results. Like I said, go for it. They want us home.
For those who are apprehensive about searching and being non-loyal to your adoptive folk: Get your wings on. Your life is about you. You cannot be the best person in this life unless you fulfill your inner calling. Take control of and start the path your feet are ready to walk. There you will feel fresh wind in your hair and lift your wings to take flight.

Thank you Mary! Mary is one of the contributors to the new anthology CALLED HOME which will be published soon! I posed this question on Facebook, asking Native adoptees why they chose to do a DNA test...Trace


  1. Hi Trace, do you know what DNA company Mary used? Also, the government stopped letting people see what hereditary diseases they might have! Orwellian abuse use at its finest huh? It is hilarious we can find our family's with this testing. I hope all the church ladies and controlling adoptive parents have their panties in a twist!

    1. From Mary: I thought I was being impolite if I named the companies. On 23andme I found my half sibling plus other cousins. Since my mother was white and my father native, I could definitely distinguish by haplogroup which side my cousins came from.

      I also did FTDNA which yielded no close cousins and the ethnicity had me Mayan. I did this one in Dec. and still no new relatives.

      AncestryDNA is where I hooked up with the more genealogy minded cousins and was able to friend them on FB. That was how I was able to find out who my father was.

      Also to note for adoptees searching, looking at the map locations of cousins helped me to figure out what tribe location I'm from. All my native cousins are located in native villages up and down the Yukon River.

  2. Yes, Anonymous - adoptees are smart and DNA is working like a charm - and I'm sure many have their knickers in a twist, definitely! DNA is the new normal.

  3. Dear Mary and Trace-
    Thank you for your nice replies!

  4. Really happy to read this blog tonight!! I too have a white mother and a Native American Father. I was also listed as Mayan at Family Tree DNA, but with the new My Origins, Mayan is now called New World and I notice it goes all the way up into Alaska. I recently looked at my original birth certificate for info on my father and he is listed as "White" and my adoption agency Non-ID listed Italian. DNA has proven both of these documents as false. I also took 23 and me but have nothing closer than distant cousins. (Crossing fingers for a close relative hit in the future). I am also awaiting my Ancestry DNA test. I have a full maternal tree built on Ancestry and find that people really do email me quite a bit there and enjoy sharing information. I recently got in touch with some maternal cousins I never knew anything about! Throughout this journey, I have become a huge lover of genetic genealogy and will continue to spread the love to others! Thank you again for this story!!

    1. Just a heads up, but until the mid 1900s, anyone who wasn't considered black, was written as white. While this was an ignorant attitude, it wasn't deliberate hiding. I am decidedly undecided on this.

  5. Oh Lynn, Thank YOU! It's exciting to imagine that possibilities! Lynn is also in the new book CALLED HOME!

  6. I am on vacation right now with my father, aunt, cousin and 3 beautiful little second cousins (all girls). My dad, little second cousin and I both have flat feet and have to wear special shoes. My cousin has an obsession with malt vinegar which I also have. My daughter has my cousin's hair. I FEEL as though I am a part of them which is incredible…they accept me as I am. I am home.

    I think if we are capable we can feel our ancestors. Many times I feel as though mine are watching over me.

    1. Julie, finding family like you is a GREAT GIFT! Congrats!

  7. This is awesome!!! I am a reunited adoptee. My son however would like to be able to find out if his father's family is Native American. His paternal grandmother always told me they were full blood Cherokee. She has passed so I can no longer get info from her. He has a friend who works with Mich. State forensics & I asked her about 23andme & she said as far as she knew it was good depending on what I want to know. My son wants to know because he would like to go to Vancouver, BC & the info would help. My question is does the information become readily acceptable for things of that nature...Would the university in BC have to accept it as FACT that he is Native American

    1. OK, the answer is not always the one we want. Your son could do DNA and have his proof but the university may require documentation like a tribal id card. You can try though.


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Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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