Adoptees who have had a closed adoption sometimes don’t even know where to start searching based on the minuscule amount of information they have. Open adoptions have taken the stage over the last few years, but there is still an overwhelming number of closed adoptions. In those cases, some are left with only their date of birth and the name of the hospital they were born in. surprisingly, there are a few that don’t even have that much to go on. All legal documents and medical records associated with the adoption are sealed by the court.

That’s where DNA comes in. You can literally know nothing at all about where you came from and still find your biological family. How cool is that? That are multiple testing companies you can use, and there are even more websites that you can upload your raw DNA file to and get additional matches. I used Ancestry DNA with great success, so the following information will be related to their site. Most other testing companies are similar in the way they operate, even though Ancestry’s database is the largest.

You send in a saliva sample to the company of your choice. Then you wait roughly 6-8 weeks for the test to be done processing. I highly recommend requesting your non-identifying information from the state you were born in while you wait. When it’s finished, you will receive an email with a list of DNA matches. Some users get a parent/child match right away. Often though, that is not the case and there is more work to be done. Most end up with third, second, or first cousin matches. Those matches will have to be worked through and have their public family trees combined into a bigger family tree to see where you fit in.

I have seen miracles performed with third cousin matches. A match farther out than that may not be helpful right away. You may need to wait until more people in the family have tested. There are a couple of suggestions to take note of. Get help! There are tons of search angels who love to help with cases just like yours. They have enough experience with DNA that they can whiz right through some of this stuff and save you time. Also, do not contact anyone on your list of matches and tell them you are adopted. It’s almost never helpful, and it could cause harm to your search. You can learn more about that in this article.

There are always other things you can do while you wait for matches. You can check out adoption registries and keep an eye on the legislation in your state. A growing number of states are releasing sealed adoption records. The most important thing you can do is never lose hope.


Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and mother of two currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees’ rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life. You can read her blog at //