Adoption In The News: The Mystery of DNA Testing and Adoption

Jena Heath recently wrote an article in The Austin American-Statesman about the adoption journey she, her husband and their daughter Caroline have gone through.

The couple adopted Caroline from China, and Heath begins the article by talking about her fears of adoption at the beginning of the process and how she prepared herself by studying fetal alcohol syndrome, biracial adoptions, and attachment issues.

Heath said she read so much that she unintentionally and unnecessarily scared herself, but “from the moment Caroline was placed in my arms, she stuck to me like Velcro, and she ultimately relaxed into the loving affectionate 5-year-old she is today.”

Heath went on to share how becoming an adoptive mother was difficult because she was afraid to discipline or punish Caroline for fear of bonding at attachment issues. Finally it was Heath’s own mother who told her to “stop attributing everything she does to the fact that she was abandoned…”

Heath said it took a while but eventually she learned to “set boundaries and stop theorizing that every attempt Caroline made to push them was some unconscious reaction to being adopted.”

The last part of Heath’s article is about closed adoption in China and searching for Caroline’s family members through DNA testing. At first the Heath’s were against attempting to look for any of Caroline’s brothers or sisters because “confirming any suspected blood connection would require a sibling DNA test, essentially, a high-tech probability game.”

However, Heath admits that she has since learned that the technology has advanced to the point where it is much more exact. There are other issues that Heath has thought of such as if they did find a brother or sister of Caroline’s, what would the next step be, and how would they create such a close relationship with another family?

For now, Heath writes at the end of the article, their family has decided that this will be Caroline’s decision when she is older. They have decided if she wants to search for family members, than they will help her at that point.

As adoptive parents have you had any similar experiences to the Heath’s? How did you learn to set boundaries for your child after placement? If you have adopted internationally in a closed adoption, have you thought about searching for your child’s birth family?