Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Matched Adoptee Shares her Story

Michelle wanted to share her story of being matched through DNAConnect.Org to her birth family. Thank you Michelle!!
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Last December I took a DNA test to discover my ethnicity and health. All was fine and we found out I was Chinese (Whoah what a shocker!) The following February I received a notification that I was matched with my biological father.
When I first saw that I cried. I was in shock and disbelief. Looking at the computer screen, I thought, “Impossible! This is too good to be true.” I gathered up my hopefulness and curiosity and replied back. There is an organization that travels overseas and collects DNA from families in China. The cofounder Lan is the one who contacted me. She met my birth father and had him do a DNA test. And by luck I was a match! But even though this was amazing, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Many thoughts crossed my mind. What if it was a scam? Many people have been swindled out of their money and are left with broken hearts. So I decided to take it easy. I began to message Lan back and forth over the course of many months. I received pictures of the family, but I was still apprehensive. I was then told that my birth family wants to contact me and Lan asked if I had Facebook. I thought it couldn’t hurt to send my Facebook profile. I will be careful. I then got a notification from Zhang Jackson, my brother.
At 10:20 PM Sept. 16 I got a Facebook message from him, “I am your China’s brother.” His English wasn’t perfect, but he got the message across. We only had a short window to talk to each other. China is 12 hours ahead of us. For one hour we messaged each other and talked about our lives. He is 23 and is studying IT at Qingdao University. I learned that I have four sisters and two brothers. I also have six nephews and one niece. My birth family was happy to have found me. I even got more pictures. It was surreal. I was actually talking to my brother. I found my family. We had to end our conversation because it was getting late and I had class the next day. Due to China’s censorship, Facebook is technically blocked. He had to use a “work around” to contact me which wouldn’t be easy in the future for the rest of my birth family to message me. I asked Lan if there was an easier way I could contact them.
She suggested to me that I download a texting app they use in China and add her. So I went ahead and got the app. I received a notification that I was added to a group chat with Lan and my whole birth family. I began to talk to my sisters, brothers, and parents. Thankfully the app has a translation option I can use to understand them. I received and sent more pictures. They wanted to know if I was happy and healthy. The answer is yes by the way. For the past week we have been messaging each other back and forth. I am learning more and more by the day. Sometimes I am up till 3 AM talking to them and then I’m up early the next day to talk more. Most of them are busy with their jobs so it is hard to find a good window to text. However it is worth it. To know an answer to this huge mystery in my life is amazing. It wasn’t like a part of me was missing. The thought never weighed me down with the necessity to know the truth. But now I had them right at the tips of my fingers. I wanted to know everything and so I asked them about my birth.
I was born March 23 in Guangdong Province. I was born at home like all the rest of my siblings. My given name was Zhang Guanhong. At that time my birth family was very poor and they could not keep me. A person from a welfare agency [orphanage] had to take me. My sister said she remembered a lady came to take me and my birth mother cried. The agency told my family I would be back in 20 years. However in order for a child to be adopted in China the law requires them to be abandoned. They cannot have a surname or family in China. On my adoption files, from the Wuchuan Welfare Agency [orphanage], it states I was born February 10 and I was abandoned at a hospital’s doorstep. The Chinese welfare agency [orphanage] changed my information so I could be adopted. My birth family came to the agency [orphanage] to find me, but the agency [orphanage] did not know anything. They did not know I was all the way in the United States because of the forged information. Thankfully they did not give up hope.
Talking to them and realizing what really happened is a bitter sweet feeling. On one side, yes, what the agency [orphanage] did was wrong, but on the other side if they didn’t I would not have the life I have in America. What happened is in the past now. We cannot go back and change it. I have the rare and lucky chance that I did reconnect with my family; which is amazing. I am not the only adoptee that has birth families looking for them. There were eight other babies that came to America in the same group as me. I want to help Lan, the other adoptees, and birth families out there to find each other. So hopefully this testimony finds its way to another adoptee out there. I know there is a lot of risk and you don’t want your heart to get broken. But the thought of meeting someone out there that loves you unconditionally makes it worth it.

Monday, April 23, 2018


New on our subscription blog:

In November 2017, DNAConnect.Org partnered with some families from Chongqing Municipality to produce a search video. The video was extremely successful, and as a result of the video and follow-up media articles, more than twenty birth families came forward to be tested. One birth parent stands out as a fascinating example of the challenges faced when searching for birthparents. Lan recounts how things transpired, and what secrets were revealed in a random DNA match.



Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A New Data Base for Chinese Adoptee/Birth Parent DNA

Given the large number of DNA companies that are available for families to use for sibling and birth parent matching, one might be forgiven to being confused as to where to test. This article is designed to guide an adoptee or their family to taking advantage of one of the most popular "consolidation" data bases, i.e., a data base that accepts DNA from nearly all processing labs such as 23andMe, FTDNA, MyHeritage, etc.  There is no cost to upload a DNA sample from one of these companies once a sample has been processed. It is hoped that all China-based DNA will be submitted to this consolation data base, so that matches can be made no matter where the sample is originally processed.

After much research and consultation with geneticists and knowledgeable DNA professionals, DNAConnect.Org has selected GedMatch as the best option currently available for collecting and matching adoptee and birth parent DNA from China.

GedMatch.com is known to many in the adoption community. It is a volunteer-based, no-fee for basic use data base that accepts DNA from nearly every processing company. The first step to uploading your DNA to this data base is to set up an account. You will be asked some very basic information such as your name (they ask that you use your real name, not an alias, and this information will not be available to others), an alias if you wish to have a "handle," and an email for communication. Once you have registered, you are ready to upload your sample.

To do this, you will need to download your genome to your hard-drive. In 23andMe, you do this by logging into your account, hovering over the "Tools" at the top of your screen, and selecting "Browse Raw Data" at the bottom of the drop-down (if this option is not available, go to the search feature at the top of the page and type in "Download". It will be the first option presented). In the short paragraph at the top of the Raw Data page is a hyper-linked "download" link that you will click on. You may need to order up your download, but this takes only about 10 minutes to prepare. Order the download, get a coffee, and come back and try again and it will allow you to download your sample's entire genome to your hard-drive.

You will now return to GedMatch.com and log in. From the main page after log in, you will scroll down to the bottom until you see this box for the "Genesis" data base:

Click on the "Find more about the Genesis Beta." This will take you to an introduction page, and after reading that information you will select "Click Here" at the bottom of the page. On the right side you will see your registration information, and a list of all the samples you have uploaded. On the right are all your options. You will want to select "Generic Uploads" in the second grouping of links to upload your 23andMe, FTDNA, or other sample into the "Genesis" data base.

You will be asked for a name, which will remain hidden if you also indicate an alias. We are using the real names of all our DNA donors, but each person can decide what they prefer. "Genesis" asks that you put in the real name of the DNA donor.  You will select the gender of the donor, the name of the originating processing company (23andMe, FTDNA, etc.), and answer "Yes" to both of the questions relating to authorities and permissions. You will then select the downloaded file (folder) containing your or your child's genome data. Select "upload" and you are done. Upon completion of the upload you will be given a kit code, which you will need ot know if you ever have problems or questions about your sample. Write or otherwise record this number.

That's it!!!  Well, almost. Now that you have successfully made your or your child's DNA matchable to all of DNAConnect's samples and those of all the other families, we ask that you promote GedMatch's "Genesis" data base to every adoptive family you know. Send them this article. The goal it to get everyone to upload their DNA to this data base.

If you have already uploaded your DNA to GedMatch in the past (the main data base), you have two choices: 1) You can wait until the planed merger of the two data bases occurs, and not do anything now; 2) You can re-upload your DNA to the "Genesis" data base and then have two samples when the data bases are merged. You can then go in and delete one of the duplicates. As easy as it is to do, I would probably re-upload.

We are excited about the use of this new "consolidation" data base in the "Genesis" data base, because it allows families to test with the cheapest and most cost-effective processing company, and then upload the DNA to "Genesis" for matching to siblings and birth parents. This is really a win-win for everybody, and eliminates the need to test in multiple processing data bases, at great expense and trouble.

Please feel free to help the community by posting your experiences and tips in the comments.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Birth Sister's Experience

The following experience was told to Lan by a twenty-eight year-old married woman living in Qianjiang, Chongqing. She came forward as a result of Lan's efforts with the Chongqing Families Search Video. 
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When I was in middle school [in 2003], my family were selling small stuff by the side of the road. One day, I asked my mom for 200 yuan so that I could buy some studying materials. She was embarrassed, and told me she’d try to borrow some. I was very upset because I didn’t understand why our family was always short of money. Around the same time, the municipal police showed up and fined us 300 yuan for ‘dirtying the city’. I was a fearless rebel back then, so I confronted them, asking whether the city can be cleaned if I pay. They didn’t answer me. Instead, they wanted to destroy our little place. I fought with them, throwing all caution away. What else could I do? I couldn’t even afford school. In the end, I was hurt but we didn’t end up having to pay the fine either.

About half a month later, my mom told me I would be having a brother or a sister. I could tell she was happy about this, but she wanted me to keep it secret otherwise we’d be fined. I was the only child in the family and I was lonely, so she wanted me to have a companion. My mom barely stepped out of the door after getting pregnant, but somehow the Family Planning officers somehow knew. They came to our house and gave us two choices: Abortion or pay the fine. My mom didn’t say a word, but I knew she was unwilling to abort the would-be child. I asked the officers whether it was true that a family could have a second child if the first born died. They confirmed that was true. I was kind of relieved after hearing this because I had already been planning for it. 

Only a few days prior to my mom’s delivery, I went to different clinics and bought a bunch of sleeping pills because you are only allowed to buy a small amount at each store. That night I took all the sleeping pills. The only thought that I had at that moment was to do anything that would allow my family to keep my little brother or sister. When my mom tried to wake me up, she found out about it, and called my dad. My Dad rushed me to the hospital, where I had my stomach pumped. 

When I woke up the next day, the doctor told me there might be some damage for what I did, and said not to do such thing again, and that I should communicate with my parents more often. The fact that I didn’t die terrified me, because I feared they may not be able to keep my little brother or sister. After I was discharged, my parents convinced me that the only way to keep this child was to send him/her to the orphanage. Then my mom would try to find a job there, so that we could bring him/her home once we were in better condition. 

The day my sister was sent into the orphanage, it was so hard for my whole family to let her go. She was so little, hadn’t even had a sip of breast milk. I did everything I could to stop them, going crazy, trying to grab her back to stop them from taking her away, but in the end my sister was taken away. 

The next day, my mom told me my sister had been sent into the orphanage. My mom got a job at the orphanage less than a month later, but she could not identify my sister. She cried every day when she saw the babies. My mom was devastated, spent every day in tears, nursing these kids but not hers. One day, my dad couldn’t bear seeing her like this, so he asked her to quit her job and come home. She did, but in doing so we lost the only chance of getting my sister back. 

We have never spoken one word about this ever since, but I know my parents have been suffering too from the first day that we gave her away. Recently, I saw the video that you posted. I feel that this might be our last hope. I want to find her, even though she may hate us. If it weren’t for the Family Planning policy, I would still have her around, and be able to watch her grow up. I wouldn’t let her drift outside all these years. I don’t care if life becomes harder, as long as we are altogether as a family. It’s okay if she doesn’t want to come forward, I just want to know whether she’s happy now.