Book Review: The Adoptee’s Guide To DNA Testing

The Adoptee’s Guide To DNA Testing: How To Use Genetic Genealogy To Discover Your Long-Lost Family, by Tamar Weinberg

This is a book that is written about an up and coming field in which I happen to be personally involved, and while this is not the best book ever, it is certainly an interesting piece of material. The author clearly has a lot of experience in looking at certain family backgrounds and has sought to parlay this experience in a new field into being a notable figure. I do not think this book will do that, but if you are curious about genetic genealogy and you are a part of the book’s target audience this is a good book for now and eventually perhaps there will be better books on the material. It must be admitted that the field itself is new, and most people who practice it do so online, and so this book is a bit behind the curve because it is a book about something that is in an active process of growth and development, something that may change still further as time goes on and as more testing is able to be done to help people connect their DNA with others.

This book is a relatively short one about 200 pages and it is divided into four parts and eleven chapters with various supplemental material. The book begins with a foreword and an introduction. After that the first part of the book contains a discussion of how one starts one’s journey (I), including chapters about starting one’s search for birth family (1), proven search strategies that do not involve DNA, and the basics of DNA testing (3). After that the second part of the book looks at DNA testing companies (II). The author then discusses types of DNA testing that one can do (Y, mtDNA, and autosomal DNA testing) (4), and then looks at various companies and how they operate, including AncestryDNA (5), Family Tree DNA (6), 23andMe (7), and MyHeritage DNA (8), most of which I am familiar with from my own family research. The third part of the book then discusses various advanced tools for genetic genealogy (III), including establishing a biological connection (9), analyzing one’s DNA with Gedmatch (10), and triangulating one’s DNA (11). The fourth part of the book then includes various case studies that show how genetic genealogy was able to solve family mysteries in at least some fashion that may inspire and motivate the reader (IV). After this there are some frequently asked questions and worksheets in the appendix as well as an index.

I must admit that this book disappointed me. I’m not really sure why. The contents of this book are certainly interesting enough, and I would relish reading another book on this subject, perhaps a bit more broadly aimed, written by someone who was less interested in talking about themselves and more interested in celebrating others. This book feels too personal, in a way. A book that is as dependent as this one on personality suffers because the author’s personality is not particularly appealing. And that is a shame. I really wanted to like this book more than I did, but the author just did not convey herself in a way that I found to be that appealing. Perhaps it will be different for you, and if you find yourself to be an adoptee who wants to find more information about your birth family and want to use genetic genealogy to better find out about your relatives, this is a good book to use. It should be remembered, though, that the experience of adoptees is not necessarily going to be the same as that for others, and that much of one’s experience will likely depend on the willingness of the birth family to recognize the presence of the adoptee as one of their own.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Book Review: The Adoptee’s Guide To DNA Testing

  1. Hi. Author here. First, thank you for reading the book. I am glad though it’s 3 years old right now, you still find it applicable. The focus of my research in that I manage 80+ kits was the only easy way for me to derive the conclusions I gave in the book. I couldn’t do that easily without the personal experience I had reviewing kits that directly were associated with my genetic genealogy experience. But celebrating others is why the case studies were given at the end of the book. I also feel in a way that through the editing process, it also was rewritten in a way that changed the personality I wish I could have conveyed.

    In any event, your feedback is helpful. I’m sorry the book didn’t meet your expectations. I hope nonetheless that you derived some benefit from it.


    • Thanks muchy for commenting on my review. I read the Family Tree Guide To Genetic Genealogy, which is a companion volume to your own, and greatly liked it. I also follow some online channels on YouTube that involve genetic genealogy and the search for birth families among adoptees. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing other books of yours :).

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