An autosomal DNA test is the most efficient and cost-effective test for adoptees. Once you submit your sample, it takes about six to eight weeks for your test to process. After that is complete, you will receive an email with your matches. Your matches will show as predicted relationships based on how many centimorgans you share with someone per a number of DNA segments. Some adoptees will get a parent or sibling match right away. Others will get cousin matches. Usually having third-cousin or closer matches will give you the information you need to find your birth parents. For those who have only matches that are fourth cousin or farther, you may want to consider further testing.

You will need to use your matches’ public trees and your non-identifying information to work through your DNA test results. You can also use public records to narrow down your birth parents. Birth, death, and marriage records can be helpful, as well as background reports. You may get stuck and need to contact a match for more information. Before you reach out, take screenshots of the person’s tree. Do not mention that you were adopted. Adoption is usually surrounded by secrets. Most people will shut down and become no use to you if you talk about adoption. You also risk hurting your chance of reunion if you reveal your identity to anyone in the family other than your birth family.

If you don’t get close enough matches initially on your DNA test, upload your raw DNA to GEDmatch. They accept DNA files from multiple testing companies, so you may end up with additional matches there. If you still have not located your birth parents, you may consider testing with a different company. If you have third-cousin matches or closer and are not making progress, ask for help from a search angel who has experience with DNA.

Read about DNA testing in action here.

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