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Genetic testing changes the face of adoption

For Tennessee residents who are thinking about adoption, the rise of genetic testing available in direct-to-consumer kits has changed older ideas about confidentiality and secrecy. In the past, birth parents could place a child for adoption anonymously, in a closed process. In this type of adoption, the child or adoptive family would know little about how to contact the biological parents. While there were abuses associated with the closed adoption system and many parents had moved toward more open adoptions, that process has been changed through the use of at-home DNA kits.

An increasing number of people are learning about previously hidden histories of adoption or finding their biological relatives through the use of test kits. By sending a saliva sample to one of the testing companies and paying the required fee, people can submit their information to a database, receiving reports of biological matches and relatives scattered around the world. If any relative has taken a similar DNA test in the past, a person will find matches. This means that kids who were placed for adoption could find their biological family members.

Professionals in the adoption field have advised a greater amount of openness for years, but an increasing number of people who were adopted decades ago are learning surprising details by conducting these at-home DNA tests. In addition, people are learning about the life experiences of other family members, such as a parent's previous children or a sibling's adoption.

Adoptions that take place in the current climate may no longer be anonymous, even if all participants wish them to be. DNA testing and technology has moved beyond that stage. However, by working with an adoption attorney, birth and adoptive parents can develop agreements that work to support positive child development and help people achieve their dreams of parenthood.

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