Perhaps their adoption records have been falsified, or maybe the information they offer is too limited. Perhaps there are no adoption records at all.
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For many people, the identity of their father is unknown. They have been told several different stories about their paternity — or they have been told nothing at all. For these people, fifty percent of the family tree is missing and the cold, empty space on the page is a constant reminder that half of the story may never be told. Why are some people denied information about their parents? Often it is to protect the parents themselves.
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In some cases, vulnerable young women who adopt-out their children may wish to conceal their identity for their own safety, or because they feel a sense of shame. The decision to withhold, fabricate, or share this information rests with the parents themselves, and whether it is right or wrong, we may never understand the circumstances which lead a person to decide that a child should not know the identity of one or both of their parents.
However, the adoptee has been left with something — a record of their heritage and the heritage of their parents which cannot be falsified, withheld or retracted. When two people create a child, they leave fifty percent of their DNA with that child. That child is then the owner of that genetic information.
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It is the substance which forms every fibre of their being and it belongs to them, and them alone. It is the binding contract between parent and child that no legal process can dissolve. You now exist, and I have left half of myself with you. This is the gift of your heritage, and no-one can take that away.
Direct-to-consumer DNA testing is the tool which allows us to read the information in our genes. The process is simple — you purchase a testing kit, you wait for it to arrive in the post, you spit in the tube or swab your cheek, and then you post it back to the lab for analysis. If you are an adoptee, the day that you are presented with your list of relatives may be the first time that you have ever seen a biological relative.
Most of these relatives will be very distant cousins. Perhaps all of them are distant. But they are people with whom you share ancestors. This is not a rumour, or a document of dubious origin, or an unreliable account of your parentage. This is truth. When we begin the search for the identity of your parents, we begin here, with this truth. If you are searching for your biological parents, then you do not necessarily need to enlist the help of a professional.
In theory, this formula can be extrapolated to any genetic relative, no matter how distant.
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As you can see, however, the number of potential shared ancestors increases with the distance of the genetic relationship. If you are faced with hundreds of distant cousins and very few close relatives, you might need to turn to a professional, who can help you to progress with your search using your existing data. In many of my unknown parentage cases, my clients tell me that they are wary of testing their DNA because they do not want to upset their biological relatives by appearing unexpectedly in the databases.
To this, I have two responses:. Before the advent of DNA testing, there were laws protecting the privacy of parents who wished to remain anonymous, whether they were sperm or egg donors or parents adopting-out their children. The paradigm has now shifted, and the power to uncover the truth now rests with the children. The laws of nature dictate that every person can potentially identify their parents using their own DNA data. As with most things, there are no guarantees with genetic genealogy, but there is always the potential for a positive outcome.
In some cases, it might be possible to identify your parents on the day that your DNA results are made available to you. In other cases, the process might be long and arduous. Sometimes you might need to wait for more relatives to test before you can progress with your investigation. But the situation is never hopeless, and as long as your DNA is present in the databases, at the very least you are making yourself traceable, even if you are not yourself actively searching for your relatives.
You are entitled to the truth about your identity and your heritage. Use the gift your ancestors gave you, and never give up hope. Laura House is a genetic genealogist studying towards an MSc degree in genealogical studies at the University of Strathclyde. Her research focuses on the resolution of unknown parentage cases.
The Changing Legal Regulation of Cohabitation. From Fornicators to Family,
Twitter: HouseGenealogy. Email: Laura HouseOfGenealogy. The information in our DNA is a precious gift, but unless we use it carefully there's a risk that the discoveries we make can cause real harm. Although what I'm going to say applies particularly to adoptees and the relatives of adoptees , anyone who makes an unexpected discovery as a result of DNA testing needs to take the emotions and circumstances of others into account. Those who were adopted before 12th November are required by law to undergo counselling before being allowed to access information that might lead them to their birth families - this is because their birth parents may have been under the impression that their adopted child would never be able to find out who they were.
But counselling is also recommended for more recent adoptees, because it's important to appreciate that there is a wide range of possible outcomes, some positive, but others disappointing or even distressing. Consumer DNA testing cuts across the legal boundaries, allowing adoptees to search for their birth families without going through any of the safeguarding processes. But its reach is much wider - it can uncover all sorts of unexpected discoveries, from hidden adoptions to fertility treatment to illicit liaisons. The Magdalenes.
Linda Mahood. Principle and Policy in Contract Law. Stephen Waddams. John Sorabji. Great Debates in Criminal Law. Women, Crime and Justice in England since Shani D'Cruze.
Votes For Women. Sandra Holton. Homicide and the Politics of Law Reform. Jeremy Horder. David Hoffman. Feminist Perspectives on Equity and Trusts. Susan Scott-Hunt. The Separation of Powers in the Contemporary Constitution. Roger Masterman. Crime in Early Modern England James A Sharpe. Women's History: Britain, June Purvis. Judging Civil Justice. Hazel Genn. Dangerous Sexualities. Frank Mort. Mark Knights. Viscount Haldane. Frederick Vaughan.
The Politics of Gender in Victorian Britain. Ben Griffin. Landmark Cases in Family Law. Stephen Gilmore. Cruelty and Companionship. James Hammerton. Women, Judging and the Judiciary. Erika Rackley. Women's History, Britain Hannah Barker. Regulating Sexuality. Leanne McCormick. Child Welfare. Harry d Hendrick. David Englander. Jane McDermid. Ellen Jordan. Eimear Spain. Probert, Rebecca Overview. Publication Timeline. Most widely held works by Rebecca Probert.
Marriage law and practice in the long eighteenth century : a reassessment by Rebecca Probert 13 editions published in in English and held by 1, WorldCat member libraries worldwide Using a wide range of primary sources, this book provides a radical reassessment of 18th century marriage law and practice. Family life and the law : under one roof by Rebecca Probert 15 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide Recoge : Law's interactions with family life ; Keeping a roof over the family ; Using the law in intact families ; Intact families and the state ; families acros international boundaries.
The changing legal regulation of cohabitation : from fornicators to family, by Rebecca Probert 13 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide "This book has three key aims: first, to show how the legal treatment of cohabiting couples has changed over the past four centuries, from punishment as fornicators in the seventeenth century to eventual acceptance as family in the late twentieth; second, to chart how the language used to refer to cohabitation has changed over time and how different terms influenced policy debates and public perceptions; and, third, to estimate the extent of cohabitation in earlier centuries.
To achieve this it draws on hundreds of reported and unreported cases as well as legislation, policy papers and debates in Parliament; thousands of newspaper reports and magazine articles; and innovative cohort studies that provide new and more reliable evidence as to the incidence or rather the rarity of cohabitation in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England.
It concludes with a consideration of the relationship between legal regulation and social trends" Cohabitation and non-marital births in England and Wales, by Rebecca Probert 9 editions published in in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide Today in the UK almost half of all children are born outside marriage, with cohabiting relationships accounting for the majority of such births.
But what was the situation in earlier centuries? Bringing together leading historians, demographers and lawyers, this interdisciplinary collection examines the changing context of non-marital child-bearing in England and Wales since Drawing on private Acts of Parliament, ecclesiastical court records, reported cases, sessions files, coronial records, Poor law records, petitions to the London Foundling Hospital, the registers of the London Bridewell, the records of charitable institutions, surveys and modern demographic data, it not only shows the relative rarity of cohabitation in earlier periods but also discovers the nature of individual relationships.
It also explores how differences in the extent of both non-marital child-bearing and cohabitation emerge depending on definition, source material, interpretation, and location, building up a more nuanced picture of past practices. Cretney and Probert's family law by Rebecca Probert Book 20 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide This 8th edition cuts through the black letter law to provide students with guidance on all the major themes and principles of family law, covering both formal and informal relationships.
Responsible parents and parental responsibility by Rebecca Probert Book 11 editions published in in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide This book examines the idea of 'parental responsibility' in English law and what is expected of a responsible parent. It provides an examination of the different elements of parental responsibility, bringing together leading scholars to comment on specific aspects of its operation.
Trusts law : text and materials by Graham Moffat Book 12 editions published in in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide "This fifth edition retains its hallmark combination of a contextualised approach and a commercial focus. Recent developments, such as the Charities Act, are explored, the examination of the law of trusts and taxation is restructured and comparative examples help students understand the directions taken in the law of equity.
Related The Changing Legal Regulation of Cohabitation: From Fornicators to Family, 1600–2010 (Law in Context)
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