On receiving DNA information from reputable companies such as 23andMe, FTDNA, and Ancestry, the adoptee can upload his or her information into one or more available databases to see if there are any matches.
If you're looking for the most reliable DNA tests, shop for them online rather than buying one from a drug store. While less expensive, the store bought ones don't measure as many SNP's (single nucleotide polymorphisms) as the ones you can purchase online; this means they can be less accurate than those offered from websites. The online ones tend to offer a broader band of support to their customers as well, and most are affiliated with databases used to compare matches based on your results.
The process is simple. Your kit will come with a test tube and easy to follow directions. Some require a simple and painless swab of the inside of your cheek, while others may ask you to spit directly into the tube itself. Each tube has a unique barcode that requires registration. Once the tube is sealed and registered, simply mail it off and within six to eight weeks, your results will be mailed or emailed to you.
There are several types of DNA tests, and some will be more useful and accurate for adoptees seeking their biological roots than others.
The first type of DNA testing is Y-DNA. This test is for men only, and will trace your lineage back through your paternal lines. This is useful if you are looking for birth fathers and surnames. In order for this test to be the most effective, the company should offer to run a Y-DNA37 at the bare minimum (which checks 37 markers). If you are given a choice, upgrading to a Y-DNA67 will offer a more accurate test.
Mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA) gives information on female ancestors. It can be used by both men and women, and is passed from the mother to both genders of children. While this is useful for searching maternal lineage, the data provided is generally too far back to be of much use for those seeking more modern day relatives.
Autosomal DNA (atDNA) is the most accurate and complete test for both sexes. This test examines over 700,000 markers on 22 pairs of chromosomes.
After you take your DNA test, adoptees can join groups on Yahoo and Facebook to search for matches. Many online sites offer large databases to look for matches, as well. One of these sites is GedMatch, which is a free, volunteer run organization that compares results from Ancestry, 23andME, and FTDNA. Other sites offer large databases as well, such as DNAAdoption and Family Tree DNA. Signing up for these registries will increase the likelihood that you will find your biological family.
Family Tree DNA in particular boasts the Global Adoptee Genealogy Project, and gives discounts for some testing projects. They also allow free information transfers to their site from other ongoing DNA projects. Their autosomal test is known as the Family Finder, and starts at $79.
The process of finding one's biological family doesn't have to be overly complicated or expensive; it may be as simple as a DNA test from a reputable company.