DNA Matches Part 1: So I Didn't Drop In From an Alien Planet After All!

Reposted from here.

I took a DNA test to learn about my biological relatives and found out some things.

Let's start with the basics, shall we?  I found out I was a human being, homo sapiens sapiens (at least mostly, I haven't compared it with the non-human samples yet.)  This actually was a concern for my younger self.  There were no people around who looked or acted like me in my adopted family or in the society around us, and everyone was quick to point out how weird and alien I was.  So what's a kid supposed to think?  Where was the evidence I hadn't fallen off a UFO?  I became sensitive to attempts to "other" me or anyone else.

My questionable humanity became a sore spot in adolescence.  I played D&D in my teens and I noticed this huge disconnection between myself and some of the other players.  A lot of players never, ever wanted to play a human character.  They despised humanity.  It disgusted them.  For them, the whole point of playing D&D was to explore the possibility that they were not human.  At least not wholly human, safe within the confines of a RPG game.

I stubbornly insisted on only playing characters who were 100% human, which caused a certain amount of consternation among the anti-human crew.  Everyone else thought I was weird for playing D&D in the first place, and they thought I was weird for how I played D&D.  There was nowhere I felt at home, nowhere I felt safe.

Looking back, I realize safety was the core issue.  They were normal adolescents who felt confident enough in their own identity that they could start to take on and explore other identities.  I wasn't.  They knew where they had come from; I did not.  They were secure enough in their humanity that they could reject it, but I always had this tiny doubt that maybe I really had fallen off Witch Mountain.

Of course they would have been highly insulted if anyone had pointed this out to them at the time.  Daring to be different was strictly a sign of their own courage in the face of overwhelming social conformity, not of any underlying safety net.

And for some kids it was, but not for most of them.

 Just like some teens had these huge fights with their parents over reasons that seemed oh-so-important to them at the time but other people could plainly tell were mainly because they felt confident enough in their parents' unconditional love that they knew they weren't going to be kicked out of the house for it.  I obsessed day and night over telling my abusive adoptive parents off, and day and night I reminded myself that I had nowhere else to go and no way to survive on my own.

I secretly seethed at both groups.  It made me furious that they could get away with doing things like that because they had a safety net and I did not.  I couldn't even tell other people how precarious my own safety was without potentially making the situation worse by calling attention to it.

 And that was the real problem, not the other kids.

So anyway, I 'm glad to have actual confirmation that I really am a human being.  But that wasn't my first thought when I saw my DNA matches.  It wasn't even my hundredth or thousandth thought.

My first thought was utter and complete mindblowing shock.

Part 2

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Alien Nation

Good Lord... if only I could count the number of adult-victims-of-care who told me they saw themselves as 'aliens'.

Me, myself.... I always saw myself as a Misfit... but in my book, the theme of not-fitting-in remains the same.

I never felt whole or confident enough to demand the truth from my APs. And I never felt whole or confident enough to tell the truth about my own adopted abusive/hostage situation... not when it would have mattered, at least.

I can empathize with the shock that goes with learning one is Human. Correction: the shock that goes with being told "you are not Different."

I ALWAYS felt Different.

While I always felt Human, I never felt Normal.... Typical.

Even within the adoption-community, it seemed as if my own experience was not Normal, Average, or Typical.

Everything about me and my adoption-story was Alien... or so I (sadly) believed.

DNA test, huh? I personally believe taking a DNA test is a major MAJOR move. In fact, to say "it's not an easy step" is a gross understatement, especially for an adult adoptee.

With that, what drove you to do a DNA test, in the first-place?

I don't have much else to go

I don't have much else to go on, and I couldn't stand to sit around and twiddle my thumbs waiting on the state of Louisiana to get back to me.  If I was going in, it was going to be on two fronts so I'd have corroboration.

Essentially, I didn't trust any written source to tell me the truth without backup.  These people were human traffickers, slavers, why should I expect them not to lie as well?

Adoption 101: The right to choose

As an adoptee who was sold to complete foreign strangers, I had always known some things (like knowing the truth about my birth parents and medical history) were going to be unknown by me. I guess on some level, I had always accepted a measure of not ever knowing "little things" like future health problems and genetic probabilities.

Was I surprised and shocked when I learned I had to face a breast cancer scare when I was in my mid-30's? Sure. Was I blown to the ground when I learned my last pregnancy would involve multiples? You betchya.

But as much as these "family history" events shocked and rocked me, (and reminded me how much I did not know about myself and my extended family medical history), they did not drive me to seek DNA testing for myself.

I can appreciate an adoptee's "need to know", and an adoptee's need to get blood-testing for certain conditions and specific questions. I think the need to take some form of control and find one's biologic health history is a response to a core identity issue owned by many of those who don't have or know one or both sets of biologic family members.

I simply find it very interesting that some adult adoptees will go as far as seek genetic counseling, (for what ever personal reasons an adoptee may have), while others, like myself, will relinquish some control to fate, and live life with the belief that Personal Choice can influence future health issues, (and how one will live, later in life), as much as one's heritage, culture, and DNA.

I tend to have a rather

I tend to have a rather scientific outlook.  I want to see all the data, and all the studies on the data.  I want to know the latest information on how much and what kind of influence personal choice, environment, and heredity have on one's future.  And I want to see how all of that holds up against my personal life story.  Then I'll make up my mind.

Although I am curious to find out someday if my poli-sci geek tendencies are hereditary or not. :P

Familiar Traits

For a long time I wanted to know who else in MY family shared similar traits, interests, habits, and quirks.

Then I had children of my own.

Through them, I have been able to see how heredity plays a role in appearance, personality, and temperament. I think stuff like that is really neat.

In my house, there are times when all four of my kids will gather together, and compare who can do what. (Who can roll their R's...? Who can bend their fingers a certain way...?) Now that they are much older, I think they have a deeper appreciation of individuality, whilst belonging to a specific named group.

I like observing such curiosity in people who have not been adopted. It shows me adoption did not make me Strange (or Alien, or Abnormal)... it simply provided no older family member for me to compare myself to.

My three children do that as

My three children do that as well.  However, I'd like to spend time with someone who was like me but not a child as well as with them.

I haven't had much luck finding people like me in the general public, as I've written about before.  That's been the main issue driving me to search.  I'm almost more interested in finding like-minded cousins as in my birthparents.

Something about the process

Since I myself have no personal experience with the DNA/Genetic Counseling route, I'd like to know what it is you went through.

If I'm not mistaken, before a specimen is taken, a counselor is supposed to discuss reasons for the test.

Did you experience this?
How has your family (spouse/children) responded to this decision you made (for You)?
Have you found signs of healing for yourself?

DNA testing

I wrote a very long reply yesterday and lost it.  Fudge.

No counseling is needed if you get a DNA test for genealogical reasons.  You pay your $99 and they send you a kit with instructions on how to take a saliva sample and send it back to them.  They study the sample and send you a list of how well it matches genealogically with other DNA samples other people have made public at that site.  Your DNA sequence is also available through them as a .TXT file that you can download there and upload to other sites that will compare it for genealogical or other (**cough**medical**cough**) purposes.  It's your file.

The Big Three for genealogical DNA are Ancestry.com, 23&Me, and FamilyTreeDNA; they're all currently around $100 a test and do about the same quality work, but since they have different genealogical databases it helps to do all three.  There's another firm that's more expensive and specializes in crime scene DNA, but they'll be the first to tell you that for genealogical purposes they can't do a better job than those firms can.  And there are other firms whose tests are less reliable.

As far as my spouse and children are concerned, DNA testing has been a good thing.  I spent last year having a mid-life crisis, and now I'm doing something about it.  Anything that lifts me out of my funk is good as far as they're concerned.  Plus they're all hoping I'll turn up some cousins around their age who share their interests, even dh.

Healing -- that would be a qualified "yes".  I was overjoyed to see the results.  I haven't found my birthparents yet, just "cousins".  It's as if I parachuted down from a plane and got stuck in the branches of the family tree.  But my heritage is 80% less nebulous now.  I know so much more, and that knowledge has healed so many tiny fractures that doubt had left in my psyche.

OTOH, because I know more, I can rule out certain scenarios about my birth.  My biological families were fairly large, and certainly not destitute.  So why was the decision made to relinquish me outside the family?  I was forced to confront the full emotional impact of being abandoned for the first time, and the pain of that wound was worse than anything I have ever experienced save for the death of my first child.

But that bit of emotional shrapnel needed to come out anyway, and I'm doubtless better off past that moment.

DNA tests

Just catching up on PPL and read the interesting entries on DNA testing. I wasn't surprised by it because the APs who have adopted Guatemalan childrem have been doing 23&Me for awhile now and posting the child's complete DNA strain on forums. They also post how they have "cousins"...and some boast of heritage Hapalog Groups from North American native people and Asia. Which of course tells an educated person that these APs have never studied History nor Geology and the land bridge that once united Asia to North America, thus the migration to North America dispersing throughout the rest of The Americas. Of course the children are going to have DNA strains from groups in Asia and indigenous people of the Americas, but that does not make a Guatemalan child Chinese, nor Apache.

Some APs then categorize their Guatemalan ICA child as either Asian or Native American and not Hispanic. There have been many heated threads in the past years about this on AP forums.

Atleast Lioness is an adult and made her own decision to do so. I support her in her decision. I have a problem with APs making that decision on behalf of an underaged adoptee (unless if it is required for a medical emergency)....and posting the results on an AP Forum.

Kerry and Neils, how do you feel about DNA Heritage testing by APs. Can you share your thoughts?

The more members of a

The more members of a certain ethnic group have their DNA up, the more precise the finding.  That said, not everyone from South America is an ethnic Hispanic.

APs, DNA, and the litmus test of transparency

Personally, I think it's natural to be curious about one's heritage.

From very early-on, my adoptive mother told me I was Irish.
For 30+ years I believed this.
Only when I was in my mid-30's, and I got my non-identifying information from a social worker, did I learn I was French and Ukrainian.

Did this information make me want to learn more about myself? After all the lies I had already learned about my adoption, I decided I could not afford to explore "the truth" about my past and where my genes were taking me. The truth, in my own case, always turned-out to be very painful. (Why add more fear and pain, (and diminish the quality of my life), if I didn't have to?)

Let me be clear here. There is a big difference between learning about one's "heritage" or "ethnic origins" and learning about one's "genetics".

If I were an adoptive parent, I think I would want to know my adopted child's genetic make-up.

Why?

Given the amount of absent and/or incorrect information given to APs about their adopted child, I believe genetic screening can be a very good diagnostic tool for the child with many unknowns. [I think this is especially true for those children who were born in a foreign country and may be carriers of certain ethnic-based genetic diseases, like Sickle Cell Anemia, Tay Sachs disease, and the Thalassemias -- just to name a few illnesses a parent has a right to know about.]

However, I am disturbed by those APs who get their child "tested" and not only post their findings on the Internet, but voice no alarm or concern when it is learned their so-called "orphaned" child "suddenly" has X number of living (adult) siblings, aunts, and uncles, (and cousins), not to mention living parents and grandparents.

In the case of foreign-born adoptions, if we are to believe ICA is to be a last-resort in permanent child-placement, how can the selling of children (of the living, yet poor) to the relatively wealthy (and foreign) be justified?

I fear, in this day and age, there are still far too many financial incentives to keep illegal adoptions active and alive. As a result, I'm afraid there are far too many stolen children being passed as "orphans", and I believe it's just too easy to fake a "legitimate" DNA test-result.

How can this type of questionable-reporting not alarm any curious parent or adoptee?

How do you fake a DNA test?

You're talking about millions of data points.  Dh has a PhD in Molecular Biology, and even he can't figure it out.  And even if  you did it, the tests themselves are relatively inexpensive and the results come relatively quickly, so you could always demand a re-test from another company.

Easy

In the case of child trafficking for ICA, "faking" is done very easily. All a lawyer has to do is prove X person's DNA does not match a child who was "found" or "abandoned", then sold to a new family, through a private adoption lawyer or an adoption agency.

How does one ensure there is no matching DNA in the case of a stolen child?

Find a person NOT related to the child, and use that person's DNA sample to prove the child in question is not a blood-relative.

In the corrupt side of Adoptionland, fake DNA is all too easy to find.

An example

The article "What Stolen Children Mean for Adoption" offers the more human-side to DNA testing for the stolen/kidnapped child. See: http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/48141

Substitution

The way to get around that is to require more than one test from more than one source.

Anti-poverty-stricken parenting

At the risk of sounding annoyingly o/t, I hope you do realize many of the parents who have had their children stolen/kidnapped can barely pay attention, let alone one or two DNA testing fees.... or the many legal fees that go with child custody.

$100 may seem like a small price for proof, truth, and some security and knowledge, but for some of these impoverished birth-parents, the cost to regain custody of their stolen child is literally too much.

So what does this say about the adoption industry? It says, if you're poor, you are not valued,... but your healthy children can be. For a price.

Sadly, the required fees to prove parentage are often so cost prohibitive, the only winners in this system are the corrupt lawyers and judges who allow stolen children to be sold via adoption... and the adoptive parents who want zero contact with first-family members and have no real problem keeping a stolen/kidnapped child. (After all, isn't it every child's dream and greatest advantage to be raised by Americans, who are married and represent the Ideal, as only an elitist can view it?)

(I believe I'm done hijacking your original theme.... I kinda get a wee-bit passionate when it comes to the moment an adoptee decides to open his/her own Pandora's Box. For some, even the smallest Find can blow a person's mind.)

Don't worry. I've had government officials try to steal my kids

A few years ago my neighbor tried to get DHS to take our kids away from us. (Details start here.)  We fought it.  It took two lawyers, a shrink, a new house in another district, and multiple predawn moves to undisclosed locations.  I know the sort of toll it takes on a family.

Heritage testing has limited

Heritage testing has limited value, since it is only a partial cover. For females, only the mitochondrial haplogroup can be determined, which is inherited through the maternal lineage only. So, for females, only half the heritage of the previous generation can be determined.  As a result, only one fourth of the heritage of the grand parents is preserved, one eighth of the great- grand parents heritage is preserved, one 16th of great-great grand parents heritage is preserved, etc.

For males, the situation is slightly better. Through the maternal lineage, the mitochondrial haplogroup is preserved, while through the paternal lineage, the Y-chromosomal haplogroup is preserved. So each male receives preserved genetic information from both lineages. As a result the full heritage of both parents is preserved, but only half of the grand-parents heritage is preserved (the y-chromosomal information of the maternal lineage is lost and the mitochondrial information of the paternal lineage is lost), only one fourth of the great-grand parents heritage is preserved, only an eighth of the great- great grand parents heritage is preserved etc.

If we learn that a person has mitochondrial haplogroup A (the one most common among native Americans). It tells us that little over 1200 generations of females in the maternal lineage have had that same mitochondrial haplogroup (assuming 5 generations per century, and using an age of approximately 25,000 years for mtDNA haplogroup A).

So one out of 1200 successful copulations eventually resulting in one particular person has left a fingerprint in the mitochondrial DNA of that person, while the influence of the other 1199 copulations leaves no markers in the mitochondrial DNA.

The situation for the Y-chromosomal haplogroup is similar, although the grain there is somewhat smaller (there are more Y-chromosomal haplogroups spanning shorter periods of time). Still there are at least hundreds of copulations that have contributed to the existence of a male, while only one of those hundreds contributed to that Y-chromosomal DNA.

With this in mind, DNA heritage testing tells a story about heritage that is mostly a fairy tale, and one that is very susceptible to flukes.

Suppose someone is 99.9% of European descent, but somehow one woman in the female lineage centuries ago happened to be of native American descent, then the mitochondrial haplogroup of that person will possibly reflect an Asian heritage.

Heritage DNA testing has value in population genetics, where it was originally developed for, but it has no value on the individual level. So adopters are wasting their time and money if they have the haplogroups of their adopted children determined, because it really tells very little about the actual genetic make-up of that child.

Recent advances in DNA testing

The DNA tests now are a lot more precise than the older DNA tests.  The autosomal tests look at both sides of your parentage, not just your mother or father.

to be continued, pfft. Why

to be continued, pfft. Why don't you just get to the point.

Some things have more than one point

Life is full of briars and sweet gum balls (which are the prickliest, non-sweetest things you can imagine.)

Pound Pup Legacy