For Adoptees, DNA is Game Changer for Finding Roots



325KamraAfter more than 50 years of denying her Korean heritage, Korean adoptee Katherine Kim had just one bucket list that she felt driven to pursue: to finally have a photo of her Korean mother.

Kim was adopted in 1961 by an American couple from California. She says she knows that her life with her adoptive family was better than what she would have likely experienced as a bi-racial child in Korea but that she still needed to connect with her past, including three and a half years with her single mother and time in an orphanage before adoption. Her search began with a DNA test and led to a series of connections to her unknown American father’s side of her biological family. Her father had passed away before she could make connection but the entire experience led her to co-found the U.S. non-profit organization 325Kamra, which seeks to reunite families through DNA. 325Kamra has launched a big awareness and DNA collection campaign.

This month, Kim and 325Kamra President Sarah Savidakis, another mixed-race adoptee, are in Korea to spread the word about their work and collect as many DNA samples as possible with the 300 DNA kits they brought with them. It’s all for free, they stress, and the personal information of those who test will be kept within the organization until a significant match emerges, say, within two generations. Names will appear on public databases simply as “325kamra.

Anyone who sits down for a DNA test will also be asked to provide information about their medical history. Kim and Savidakis will only be (t)here for a couple of weeks, but there will be others here to continue their work. Kim, who has yet to cross off her wish from her bucket list, made sure to add: “We would take a photo. So that the adoptee also has a picture of the family member and they would get that as well.”

17/04/2016 | by News | Categories: Adoption, Adoption News | 2 Comments

2 Responses to For Adoptees, DNA is Game Changer for Finding Roots

  1. Avatar Jamie Salter says:

    I have another way to look at all of the new DNA parental searches that have become so popular. They can be unfairly invasive. My sister gave birth to her first child in 1965, a much different time in our culture. She was only 18 years old and no way to take care of a child, so she placed the child for adoption – a closed adoption. Whether right or wrong, she made the decision to leave her hometown to start a new life elsewhere & would never bring up the fact that she had placed her firstborn for adoption. The years went by, she met her husband, got married, had a daughter & a son & life went on. Three times over the following 50 years, the child that was adopted (“Mary”) contacted the adoption agency asking for information for her birth mother. Each time the adoption agency contacted my sister, she responded no, she did not wish to be contacted.
    Then DNA searches came on the scene. Mary took the DNA test, found one of our brothers (who had also taken the DNA test) she contacted the brother, introduced herself & asked him to contact his sister (her birth mother) & let her know that her firstborn child has found her and wants to set up a date to meet in person.
    Just like that, the birth mother has no rights to confidentiality. No choices. No option except to tell her family of over 50 years about the child she placed for adoption.
    So, what about the birth monther’s wishes not to be contacted? She informed the adoption agency each time Mary requested more information about her that she did not want contact with Mary. She wished her all of the best but wanted to leave things like they were.
    Mary did not care what her birth mother wanted or what damage it might cause to her and/or her family to expose this long-kept secret.
    Mary had been told three times to please not try to contact her birth mother again, she put no value on what her birth mother wanted. All she cared about was what she wanted. What Mary wanted, everyone else would just be collateral damage.
    So, what do you do, as a birth parent when the child you gave up for adoption, with whom you have made it clear that you do not want contact when they force their way into your life and the life of your family?

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      There are some great points here. Thank you for sharing your family’s story. It sounds like a really hard season for your family.

      Yes, you are right – there are many perspectives to consider. It strikes me that it is not an “all or nothing” proposition, to navigate these issues that can create so much pain when addressed. This would be such a great question to pose to our online community. Would you consider sharing it there – or having one of the admins share it anonymously? You can find the group here: It would be so interesting to hear birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents discuss the issues this brings up.

      Regardless, thank you again, for sharing.

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