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DNA: Special Circumstances-Adoptees & Unknown Parentage
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PLEASE NOTE: There is a lot of interest in DNA and Forensic topics. Please read carefully before registering to take one of these courses. The DNA and Forensic courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies provide instruction on DNA methods as used in genealogical research. We recommend that students without the basic knowledge of genealogy methods and genealogical research should register in the Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started and Methodology Part 2 - Organizing and Skill-Building courses prior to registering for this course.

This course explores how to use genealogy and genetics to uncover genealogical roots, connect with biological family, and better understand medical history. The emphasis is on adoptees and those helping adoptees with their DNA and genealogy.

This course is adapted from the book The DNA Guide for Adoptees: How to use genealogy and genetics to uncover your roots, connect with your biological family, and better understand your medical history.

Course Content

Module 1
DNA Guide for Adoptees
• Why DNA testing & why now?
• Why this course?
Getting Started
Understanding records related to adoptions
• Rights to access identifying versus non-identifying information
• State-by-state differences
• Records search for international adoptions
People & places to go for information
• Confidential intermediary
• Registries
• DNA testing
• The combination approach
Finding support
• Other people who can help with a search
• Locating a therapist or counselor
Dealing with frustration during the search
Additional Websites
• Australia
• Canada
• United Kingdom
Glossary of Terms

Module 2
Common Ancestors & Living Relatives
• Relying on other peoples’ family trees
• People-searching websites
Learning from others
• Alice’s story
• Laura’s story
• June’s story
How family tree building starts
• Family tree building
• Vital records
• Non-vital records
• Brick wall research
• Fixing common family tree mistakes
Learning about genealogy & DNA
• Genealogical logic puzzles
• Genealogy courses & conferences
DNA: The game-changer for adoption-related searches
• Identifying your goals for DNA testing
• Raw data: what it is & why it matters to a search for family
Preparing for reactions & challenges
• Common reactions
• Preparing for unexpected challenges

Module 3
Genetic Genealogy
Genetic Genealogy & DNA Basics
• Genetic vs. genealogical trees
What is autosomal DNA?
• Companies providing genealogical DNA testing
• Privacy & at-home DNA testing
• Understanding your autosomal DNA results
• A case example of family identification from DNA testing
• Determining relatedness of a mystery person after autosomal DNA testing
• Using a chromosome browser
• What is X chromosome testing?
Y & Mitochondrial DNA
• Mitochondrial DNA
Your ethnicity pie chart
• Reference populations
• Why ethnicity estimates change over time
Affording & ordering a DNA test
• Getting the most out of your testing at the lowest cost
• Kit donation programs
What to do after the testing is done

Module 4
Organizing Results
Organizing your DNA results
• The DNA family member match list
• Creating & using a spreadsheet
• Tracking your matches
• Tracking DNA segments
Tools & websites to help with your DNA analysis
• Clustering
• Phasing
• Triangulation
• Surname studies
• Third-party websites
• Finding success with advanced tools
Reaching out to DNA matches
• Sending a follow-up message
• Anticipating varied reactions
• Preparing for the full spectrum of possible reactions
“Are your parents related?” & ROH
• High ROH: A special concern for some adoptees
• David Pike’s ROH tool
• Adjusting to the high ROH discovery

Module 5
DNA & Health Information
Preparing for medical DNA testing
• Before you get started
• The finer nuances
• Different tests for different purposes
Medical-grade DNA testing
• Carrier screening
• Diagnostic genetic testing
• Pharmacogenomic testing
• Proactive gene panel tests
• Exome & genome testing
• Colin’s Story
At-home DNA tests for health reasons
• How to tell if an online DNA test is legitimate
• Health + Ancestry reports
• Using raw data files for health information
• Promethease & other third-party health tools
• Genetic tests for nutrition & exercise
Working with a Certified Genetic Counselor
• What is a Certified Genetic Counselor?
• Concerns about costs
• Concerns about genetic discrimination
• Locating a Certified Genetic Counselor
Accessing family health history
• Questions to ask
• Getting health information from your adoption records

Module 6
Special Issues
Issues for Adoptive Parents & Minors
• When an adopted child asks about DNA testing
• Special consideration about family matching databases
• Obtaining health information for your child
• Adopted children with health concerns
• Seeking out information for hidden health risks
• Using raw data from an at-home DNA test
• Final thoughts on DNA testing & adopted children
Bringing it all together
Recommended Resources
• Books
• Adoption-specific topics website
• Medical & counseling support websites
• Genealogy & DNA blogs websites
• Other websites

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