Why Adoptees Need OBC Access In Spite Of DNA Testing
- Because it is a human and civil right for every person to know their biological origins.
- Because adoptees deserve equal treatment under the law as non-adoptees.
- Because DNA testing currently leaves about 50% of adoptees unable to locate close biological relatives. It will be 3-5 years before almost all adoptees in the U.S. will be able to locate their immediate biological relatives.
- Because during the next 3-5 years, the health of adoptees and their children will suffer from lack of current family medical history which can be provided by close biological family relatives.
- Because it is more private and confidential for both the adoptee and a birth parent for the adoptee to know the birth parent’s identity and communicate with them directly. DNA testing and searching based on DNA testing can inadvertently “out” a birth parent.
DNA Testing’s Impact on Access Explained
Birth parent privacy is now far more likely to be maintained by providing an adult adoptee with their original birth certificate than by forcing that adoptee to use the much more public process of DNA testing. An adoptee who has their original birth certificate knows the identity of the birth parent they may wish to contact. The adoptee can thus make a confidential, private communication directly to that birth parent.
DNA testing, on the other hand, reveals all biological relatives who have taken a DNA test to each other. This can include extended family members such as first cousins, second cousins, siblings, half siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. as well as parents and children. It is not necessary that the birth parent have taken a DNA test themselves.Identifying even a single biological relative is often a sufficient basis for an adoptee to identify a birth parent, particularly when combined with non-identifying information or simply the adoptee’s own date and place of birth. In the process of contacting other biological relatives, however, an adoptee may unintentionally “out” the birth parent.
DNA testing is occurring on a large scale, commercial basis in the U.S. It is estimated that about 5 million Americans have taken a DNA test, a number which is rapidly increasing. A recent, informal survey by a reputable genetic genealogist determined that at this time about 50% of people who take a DNA test identify a sibling or parent. It is estimated that within the next 3-5 years practically everyone in the U.S. will be “findable” as a result of DNA testing.
Medical DNA testing, however, lags far behind ancestral DNA testing. Although select tests exist to identify risks for particular illnesses there is not yet a universal medical DNA test which evaluates all medical risks. The limited tests performed today are typically ordered by a physician based upon an evaluation of family medical history. Current medical DNA testing cannot replace or substitute family medical history, and will not for many years.
Lastly, in Connecticut all this is moot once the birth parent dies. Since 1987, adult adoptees are entitled to receive identifying information about a birth parent once that parent is deceased. See Conn. Gen Stat. Sec. 45a-751b(2)(e) and 45a-753(a).
We recommend this article titled DNA Game Changer by Gaye Sherman Tannenbaum.