Linda S. Hammer
May 3, 2001, Sarasota, FL DNA Testing to Match Adoptees with Birth Parents
Knowing your own medical history is vital to your health, and your future children’s health. Adoptees are the only people in the US who do not have access to that information – at the present time – because they are not permitted (in most states) to have access to their own personal medical history, nor can they take advantage of the new Ellis Island website to research their family tree, because their past is a black hole.
Due to DNA technology, that is all about to change. Linda Hammer is founder and publisher of a website that helps find missing friends and relatives called The Seeker, Reuniting The World! - www.the-seeker.com - and also the host of a daily live call-in radio show broadcast out of WTMY 1280 AM in Sarasota, FL from 3 – 4 ET, and heard live on the internet. Through the site and the show, she is now building a huge database of DNA from both adoptees and birth parents that will help reunite them without having an original birth certificate, a name, date, or even place of birth.
The sole reason this is necessary is because lawmakers have erroneously determined that it is necessary to “seal” adoption records as birthmothers were "promised" confidentiality – something that 98% say they never were "promised", nor wanted. “No one can legally promise something like that – it’d be like promising marriage for an unborn child!”, according to Hammer. She further says that, “sealing a person’s biological records, based on the sole fact that they are adopted is discriminatory, and goes against our basic civil rights to know who the heck we are. If we don’t know who we are and where we came from, we may as well be cloned sheep.”
Nevertheless, this is happening, adoptees’ records are sealed, and since they cannot tell their doctors what their prior medical history is, many have died because they don’t know what possible hereditary diseases they may have, which could have prevented their death, and that of their children, and their future children.
With the project that The Seeker is undertaking, no longer will adoptees - even black market adoptees - have to wonder where they came from. Birth mothers who were told their child was stillborn, when in fact, they were sold, will now be able to get reunited with their child. “These records that have been sealed because some adoption agencies don’t want birth mothers and adoptive mothers comparing stories, will now be wide open. Those unscrupulous adoption agencies better get malpractice insurance - now”, says Hammer.
The Seeker, in conjunction with DNA Testing in Tampa, has begun gathering DNA from participating birth parents and adoptees in a nationwide effort - ultimately a worldwide effort – to reunite families. This will also help orphans who were airlifted after the Vietnam and Korean Wars – without a clue where to begin a search – to get reunited. "I am thrilled to actually be a part of this one-of-a-kind program to reunite people with one another", says Jean-Louis Miranda, President of DNATesting.com, "I am originally from France, where family is very important."
The Seeker’s website receives over 2 million page views a month. The largest group of visitors to the website come from adoptees and birth parents, as well as siblings. However, this DNA project will not reunite siblings at this time. Through the radio show, they interview special guests each day – by phone or in studio, plus, people call in from all over the country to say who they have lost touch with, announce upcoming reunions or events, or just say how they found their missing person and how the reunion is going. It is also heard live on the internet.
The ultimate goal is to take the show live on the road across the country spreading the word about the DNA project. Hammer, and her co-host Simone Keevert, have already been receiving thousands of requests to participate in this project. “There are 60 million people in America whose lives have been touched by adoption”, according to Hammer.
They hope to attract large corporate sponsors in order to make it free for everyone to participate. “We would like to have a long distance company sponsor this project, because they stand to benefit the most – monetarily – from people getting reunited”, says Hammer. “We would also like to have a nationwide pharmacy as our sponsor, that way, people can go to the pharmacy, and participate right then and there, no waiting”, she says.
“This is a very exciting project that would certainly put a light at the end of a very dark tunnel for adoptees and birth parents”, says Ed Gaulin, President of the Manasota Genealogical Society in Bradenton, FL. The DNA will be gathered, then extracted and put into a database where it will remain until they have enough samples to begin matching them. This will be done using cotton swabs; the participant will swab the inside of their mouth, and place the swab into an envelope, it will then be sealed and sent to the lab. The envelope will contain minimum information, enough to get in touch with them once a match occurs. If a genealogist wants to participate as well, they can include their genealogy, and it will remain in the envelope until the participant asks that it be removed.
What about privacy issues? “There are no privacy concerns,” says Hammer, “because if someone doesn’t want to be found, they won’t participate! It’s just that simple.”
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