The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

The Ladybug | The birth family search and DNA kits

The Ladybug is a blog about adoptees and their experiences.
The+Ladybug+%7C+The+birth+family+search+and+DNA+kits
Thalia Sifnakis | Senior Staff Illustrator

The past few months have been really difficult for me in terms of my relationship with writing. I had moments when I reverted to unhealthy coping skills. I struggled with control when I felt a spiral coming. I did not practice meditation, positive thinking or other tactics to manage anxiety and depression. The winter months are difficult for me because I have seasonal affective disorder. Depressive episodes are more frequent and I tend to hibernate to cope. I felt as though I couldn’t write if I wasn’t following my own advice. 

However, I’ve learned that I don’t always have to be perfect. Life isn’t about being the most put-together so that I could write about it. I make mistakes. I am not perfect. There will be moments of weakness when I resort back to unhealthy coping techniques and behavior, but I am only human. It is acknowledging that weakness that makes me stronger. 

Change is hard, and implementing healthy techniques takes a lot of time and energy that isn’t always there. I am beginning to accept that progress is slow and not a straight line. This is the same case with adoption-related trauma. Hopefully, those who read this will understand and resonate with this message. 

While I am wrapping up my time in college, I have reflected quite a lot. It wasn’t really until college that I started thinking about adoption or how it affected me. In perspective, four years isn’t a long time. 

For many students, as they prepare to graduate this spring, they’ll reminisce on their times and say how it went by so fast. 

I don’t have it all figured out. Adoption-related trauma is deep-rooted, complex and takes time to fully understand.

While it hasn’t been long since I’ve recognized this trauma, I have learned a lot. I want to share as much of it as I can in the time that I have left writing for The Pitt News. To continue sharing my knowledge, I want to share a helpful resource I’ve recently discovered. I follow the hashtag #adoptee and often find links to organizations doing great things. One Instagram account that came up through this hashtag is called the Nanchang Project. They are a nonprofit that shares information with adoptees to reconnect them with their birth families in China. They provide information on DNA testing kits, hold fundraisers to support their cause, share when there are matches and provide a search guide. For example, they post families that are actively looking for their birth children by showing a baby picture, where they were left and a birthdate. This is a great website for those who are interested in searching for their birth families.

Their latest posts are about a trip to Hunan province, which is where I was born. They initiate these trips to help adoptees who are not able to physically visit their birth town to search for their parents. Putting up flyers around the hometown is the most effective way to reconnect birth families because DNA testing kits aren’t as accessible in China, and government documents are historically not the most accurate. By putting up identifying information, there is an increased chance that birth family members might see the flyers. The Nanchang project collects information from adoptees on their website to create flyers to put up for those who cannot make the trip. 

While DNA testing kits aren’t the most effective way to reconnect with birth families, there are times in which they are successful. It is helpful to be in a database so birth families can be connected. There are a lot of different DNA testing kits. A few include 23andMe, AncestryDNA and MyHeritage. Once the results come back, they can be inputted into several databases like WeGene and GEDmatch. For more information on the types of testing kits and what they mean, the Nanchang Project has a page dedicated to this. I purchased a 23andMe kit and then inputted it into a number of databases. Each database provided me with similar results that differed ever so slightly. It connected me with fifth cousins but no immediate family members. However, the database is continuously growing and there are many success stories.

Something very personal that I have been asked a lot is if I know my birth parents and whether I want to find them someday. I am happy to share personal things about myself with anyone who asks, but is it obligatory to respond? No. Sometimes I feel as though individuals are audacious in their comments and questions when the person of interest didn’t ask for it. 

My answer to that question isn’t black and white. I go back and forth on my opinion about it. Sometimes, I do want to someday go to China and search for them when I have the time and energy to dedicate to it. I want to know them regardless of the language barrier and hear them out. Other times, I don’t have any intention of knowing them. I am bitter. I don’t want to be face-to-face with the people who gave birth to me to just abandon me. I also don’t want to deal with not being able to communicate in my native language. 

So what — they couldn’t afford to keep me, so they left me to die or be taken care of by people who could. Was it that I was a girl and would eventually grow up and leave them? What does one say to the people who are supposedly family by blood but complete strangers? Do you choose to understand and forgive? Or is it just so that you know? These are some of the questions that go through my mind about my birth parents. 

The thing is, as an adoptee, I don’t need to have a straightforward answer. It may change weekly, daily or even hourly, and that’s OK. There is a lot of uncertainty and struggle in processing abandonment trauma. I encourage fellow adoptees to be kind to themselves when processing adoption trauma and understand that progress isn’t linear. 

Abigail writes about adoption and the experiences of adoptees. You can reach her at [email protected] with any further questions or comments.