With the help of DNA testing, relatives can be found using many different testing techniques. Grandparents can find grandchildren. Adoptive parents can find children. Loved ones can use many tools to search for and find who they think could be relatives—court documents, hospital records, etc. But the reunion may not be cause for celebration until DNA can prove the relationship.
The story of Argentinian grandmothers using DNA to identify stolen children was told recently in Smithsonian.com. Over 30 years ago, Argentina was embroiled in a military dictatorship and “a brutal reign of terror that resulted in the disappearance of up to 30,000 people who were abducted, tortured and killed. Many children were disappeared or born after their mothers were raped in prison, and then adopted by childless couples in the military and police forces.”
In 1977, a group of grandmothers formed a group called Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, or Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Their goal—find over 400 stolen children. To date, they have identified 117. As early as the 1980’s, they pushed for a DNA database to be established for their search. In May of 1987, the National DNA Data Bank (BNDG) was created, and began to operate in 1987.
For this kind of program to be successful, support and DNA from each side of the search is imperative—both from Grandparents and parents, as well as the children, now in their 30’s. Next, DNA technology needs to be applied as it becomes available. For example, Y-STR testing can be used to trace male lineage, while mitochondrial DNA can trace female lineage. Each passes only through male or female relatives, and can only be found though very unique DNA testing processes.
DNA testing companies are often contacted with the request of finding a loved one. There might be the hope that there is a large database of people that one can link to, but this is not the case. The FBI has CODIS in the U.S., but this is not a shared database. Projects like the one in Argentina are very unique, but can provide reunions through advanced DNA testing. If the people that are trying to establish a biological relationship are available for testing, databases aren’t needed. A DNA testing laboratory like DDC that has many different testing techniques can offer a free consultation, as well as testing options.