Real-Life Stories of Finding Family With DNA Testing.

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Tom Andriola writing for notes that many adoptees lack ‘a sense of belonging’ and feel ‘some type of void’. This can be as true of adoptees that have grown up within loving families with strong relationships and bonds as those who perhaps haven’t had such positive adoptive families. It could be said that for this group of people they are indeed missing something they have never had; a biological family connection. This feeling can endure beyond the adoptee themselves to their children and grandchildren as well as the family that they were adopted from, their biological family.

Pepa Paniagua was adopted at just a few days old by a loving family and didn’t feel like she was missing out on anything. However, after completing a DNA test bought for her as a Christmas present she discovered her biological father who never even knew of her existence. She subsequently met up with, not only her father but her Aunties, cousins, and Grandmother. Paniagua comments that:  “I never knew what it was like to walk into a room of people that look like you. When we met it was this instant family, and a sense of comfort and belonging. It was different from sitting around the table with the family I had grown up with”. In this case then perhaps despite not missing what she’d never had the experience of finding her biological family certainly fulfilled something for her like putting a piece of a puzzle in the right place.

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For somewhat is missing is the feeling of truly fitting in. A woman who finds comfort in a Facebook group for people who get unexpected results from their DNA tests, Lisa, ‘always felt out of place in her family’. So, when a DNA test showed that her father was not the man she had been raised by, it answered as well as raised a lot of questions.

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Similarly, for Carra Powell, it was the feeling of not fitting in that prompted her to search for her biological family. As a transracial adoptee who was brought up in a mainly white area Carra remembers that “No one looked like me. Not my family, not anyone at school, no one in my environment”. Finding her biological family through DNA testing prompted her to move to an area near some of her biological family and where she and her children would feel more at home because they are not in the minority.

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For many children what is missing is having a father in their lives. This is often the case with children conceived during wartime by soldiers serving abroad.  In wartime Germany for example over a quarter of a million children had allied soldiers for their fathers. Many were never told anything, and many more faced stigma and cruelty as they grew up as well as the ‘not knowing’ about half of their ancestry. Sadly for many of them, the age of DNA testing has arrived too late and they have lived out their whole lives missing the fathers and families they never had and enduring a lifetime of ‘psychological scarring’.

Perhaps then, there are many different levels of missing what you have never had. From some, who only really feel something was missing when they find it, to those who experience a range of emotions and sometimes trauma over what is missing in their lives as a result of not knowing the whole truths about their genetic history and ancestry.