Our families are what make us who we are. Families provide us with an understanding of the world, our core values and beliefs, give us love, care, and support and form the basis of our social interactions. There are some exceptions to this but on the whole, this is how families function. There is much disagreement over whether biology, in other words, whether we are related to our families or not, matters. Without a doubt, non-biological families can offer all of the aspects of a happy, successful life as mentioned above. However, there are some aspects of living with or at least knowing your biological family that provides us with feelings of connection with our roots and emotional reassurance that we get nowhere else.
This is why people who were adopted, or who for other reasons have lost touch with or do not know their biological family often feel such an urgent need to search for them. It is also why they often report that on finding them, either through DNA testing or another route they find something that was always missing, or that things ‘clicked into place’. This is the case whether they have loving and supportive relationships with their non-biological or semi-biological families or otherwise. Often people are emotionally overwhelmed, in a positive way, by finding people who look like them or have similar traits and mannerisms.
For Whit Johnson, who found his biological Uncle after doing a DNA test seeing a picture of his Uncle ‘blew my mind’ and that the things that he first noticed were ‘the way this man was sitting in his chair, his eyes, his mouth, my dimples’.
For others, the first emotions experienced upon finding family members are more about feelings of belonging or a change in their sense of self rather than observing similarities.
Another DNA test user who initially did the test to confirm the truth behind the minimal knowledge that his adoptive parents received from the adoption agency that he had Irish and English ancestry. The man, Max Sparber, gained ‘a newfound sense of identity – as well as a huge number of new relatives. He is now in touch with between 20 and 30 new cousins’ all as a result of spitting into a test tube.
For Jean Kapenda, originally from The Democratic Republic of the Congo, his DNA test helped to reconnect him with hundreds of members of his family who had lost touch with their roots as a result of slavery. María Elena Romero, reporting for The World, quotes Kapenda on what it felt like to find his family members saying “It’s as if I was lost and somebody found me”.
Want to Find Your Family? Next Steps
Whatever your reasons for wanting to trace relatives, whether like the examples mentioned you have gaps in your knowledge of your family due to adoption, slavery, or another reason. Or whether you are simply curious to find distant relatives, cousins you may not know about or that you at least know of but perhaps that part of the family moved away or emigrated. It is now not only possible but easy to trace family with DNA testing. All you need to do is a little bit of research on which DNA testing company is the best for your particular set of circumstances and what you are most interested in finding out. Then you send off your kit, complete the test by spitting or taking a cheek swab, send it back, and a few weeks later you will receive your results. You can’t guarantee that you will find your relatives straight away, sometimes you will be contacted months or even years down the line if no one who has a DNA match with you is not yet on the database. But once you are you have started your journey, and what an important journey it is, you will start finding your r