DNA ‘R’ Us™ III

Ever since I registered my DNA kit, I’ve gone daily to the testing web site and changed my profile. I’m currently oscillating between being completely open (“I am an adoptee looking for my biological family”) and being less open (“I am looking for DNA relatives in Lebanon”).

It has been suggested I take this latter route, so as not to scare off anyone searching. I understand this logic, but I also know (and have written about) how all discussions in Lebanon eventually lead to the Two Questions: “What is your family name?” and “What town is your family from?”

So much sooner rather than later, these questions will come up. And so much sooner rather than later, I will have to lower the boom on anyone I might match with. I’m trying to decide whether it is any benefit “holding on” to the reasons for my search, as opposed to being completely honest.

Awareness of adoption in Lebanon is much greater now than when I arrived. As a topic of mediation or conversation, it is there, although it usually takes the form of “those poor orphans”. The stories I am aware of concerning reunion tend toward a “relief” at the knowing. The deception of our adoption requires so much energy to maintain.

My question is: How are we as “those poor orphans” supposed to ever gain a sense of control over our own history and destiny? If I hide this information at first, am I not complicit in this deception? I expect nothing from any biological connections I may find other than simple acknowledgment; perhaps some answers to my questions. Should I hope that my up-front honesty will be equally matched?


I thought I’d include here a list of links that I found useful in my research before deciding to go through with the test. I also appreciate here any comments or advice as to how to define my search at the testing site. Thanks in advance.

“How Adoptees Can Overcome Secrecy through DNA Testing”
[link: Gazillion Voices]

The people with the greatest chance of successfully finding their first families are those who happen to have deep roots in Colonial America. That is because they will have hundreds of cousins in the databases and many of those relatives are likely to have extensive family trees.

I would add here that countries with large diaspora populations in the United States, populations equally thirsty for family connections, should not be discounted by this focus on “Mayflower originals”.

“With DNA Testing, Suddenly They Are Family”
[link: The New York Times]

About five weeks after shipping off two tiny vials of her cells from a swab of her cheek, Mrs. Vaughan received an e-mail informing her that her bloodlines extended to France, Romania and West Africa. She was also given the names and e-mail addresses of a dozen distant cousins. This month, she drove 208 miles from her hometown here to Evansville, Ind., to meet her third cousin, the first relative to respond to her e-mails. Mrs. Vaughan is black and her cousin is white, and they have yet to find their common ancestor. But Mrs. Vaughan says that does not matter.

“Somebody is related to me in this world,” she said. “Somebody out there has my blood. I can look at her and say, ‘This is my family.’ ”

“Whoops. How DNA Site 23andMe Outed Parents Who Gave Their Baby Up For Adoption.”
[link: Forbes]

If you’re afraid to find hidden relatives in your closet, you might want to stay away from DNA sites, or use 23andMe and simply turn off its “family finder” feature—which is basically like Facebook’s friend finder, but using genetic code instead of email addresses.

Leave it to despicable, neo-liberal “Capitalist Tool” Forbes to reinforce the class divide that fuels adoption.

“We Are Warriors”
[link: Adoption: My Truth]

I’m here to tell you, even if you don’t get a “jackpot” match immediately–like I did when I found Jackson (mind blown!)–if you’re looking for someone specific or a specific connection, stay the course with the DNA testing and make contact with those 1st, 2nd and even distant cousins because you never know what will evolve. Someone out there knows your truth. They may not know they know, and you may not think that these distant relatives can provide you with any useful information, but you never know when you will get that little piece of information that makes all the other random information come together and make sense. You can only put together the whole puzzle when you have all of the little pieces.

“I’m Adopted and I Don’t Know Where to Start”
[link: DNA eXplained]

I’ve addressed some of the adoptee resources in a previous blog, but in this one, I’m going to be very specific about which tests do what, what to expect, how to use them, where to purchase the tests and how much they cost in general terms. Remember when reading this, it’s meant as a guideline and you should always check current products and prices before purchasing.


I will greatly appreciate additional resources, advice, and references in the comments section! Thanks in advance.

About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
This entry was posted in DNA and Adoption and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to DNA ‘R’ Us™ III

  1. uuvegan says:

    Your journey is of great interest to me. Thank you for all the sharing you do.

    I am an adoptee and received my DNA information a couple of months ago. It was fascinating to me. My people were from many parts of the world; Africa, Europe, Native American, Iberian Peninsula, even Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherer 1%. I have one 99% match, but that person doesn’t respond to my emails. All the rest are more distant cousins. Many third cousins. I have not connected with anyone so far. I am Puerto Rican.

    I told my whole story on the site. I don’t see any reason to hold back if you want to find the right people. You mentioned you don’t want anything from any relative you might find. Have you thought about what they might want from you?

    • Thanks for your reply, I appreciate the advice. A 99% match! This must be very frustrating. I have thought a lot about what finding family might entail in terms of what might be expected of me. To the point where I put off searching until I thought I might be ready for such a situation. I realize now that “being ready” is never going to come. And I have to keep reminding myself that I am not without agency here.

    • uuvegan says:

      I think you’ll handle it very well. Good luck. Let us know your DNA results. Just having the results was very helpful to me. It ‘s more of a feeling of I know who I am.

  2. jmarie says:

    Maybe you can make profile as limited as possible.

    Other than that I have no ideas but I wish you best of luck with your DNA search.

    Big hugs to you Brother!

  3. I’ve seen much discussion of searching adoptees on FB genealogy pages lately. Though I’m sure there ARE those who will shut down contact when they hear the “A” word, there seems to be a MUCH greater number who are vehemently opposed to being lied to or misled. Lots of drama over adoptees who make up fake family info in order to gain access to someone’s family tree, etc. I’d say honesty is the best policy.

    • Thanks for the advice. I went with full transparency, which was my gut instinct. The responses have been half positive, half non-existent (of four messages sent). I’m patient; I know it is just a matter of time. I’ve waited 10 years! At least I sense this is the downhill side of the slope…

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