An Adoptees Journey Through 23andme!

23andme test takers

It’s not every day an adoptee can wake up, ask their parents a question about themselves, and get an answer that is 100 percent accurate. But thanks to science every day is a new opportunity for discovery!  23andme is a saliva-based DNA service that provides genetic reports on your ancestry, family history and helps to connect you with your DNA relatives. As an adoptee I was curious how a service such as this would help me get information about myself.  I decided to embark on a journey to see what I would find. Would this be a good tool for other adoptees? My story is documented below, find out if and how spitting into a cup and mailing my DNA changed who I am.

How 23andme works

You start at where you can learn about the process, order your kit, and set up an online account. After receiving the kit in the mail, there are some simple instructions – spit into a test tube 30 minutes after eating or drinking. You then close the test tube up, and send it back in the mail! Then comes the waiting… we waited about a month until our results were ready. 23andme will email you when your DNA test results are ready, and the results are posted on your 23andme online account!

A glimpse into my 23andme experience

Questioning the Decision: I questioned a lot before deciding to send my saliva sample into the 23andme headquarters. I wondered how accurate the test really was, and tried to imagine how I would feel if something surprising came out of the test. I was adopted from India and have very little identifying information from my biological family. I knew there was a 99 percent chance that I wouldn’t find anyone biological to me, but I questioned that 1 percent. If my DNA test matched me with a potential biological relative, what would I do with that information? Let it be? Start a search that would change my life? I questioned – so I talked about my questions with co-workers, friends and most importantly my family. My family supported whatever decision I made. The support from so many different people allowed me to realize that whatever came from the DNA test, I would have people to talk to about it.

The Process: Jennifer Eckert, founder of BPAR, and I decided to take the test together. After receiving our DNA kits in the mail, we had to follow specific instructions – don’t eat or drink 30 minutes prior to spitting in the test tube, when spitting into the test tube make sure there are no bubbles. It was a hilarious moment when trying to spit without any bubbles forming! We packaged them up and sent them back to 23andme.

Waiting: For some, waiting might be the hardest part of this process. 23andme warned us that it could take up to a month and a half to get our results. While you wait, they suggest you take different surveys on your 23andme account. I did a few and found them fun! For me, waiting wasn’t a struggle. Maybe that is because I didn’t have solid expectations going in. I was just curious if what I know about myself now, was accurate. After about a month we received an email with our initial reports!

The Results: Jennifer and I opened our results together. I speak for myself when saying there was only a slight surprise that came from my DNA results. I was born in India, which made me think that I was 100 percent South Asian. According to my test results, I am 99.6 percent South Asian. 23andme detected that I am 0.4 percent East Asian and Native American. It was an interesting discovery that I would not have known if I opted out of the DNA test.

23andme has a section of their website which allows you to make a family tree. For an adoptee like me, it is impossible to even start a biological family tree because I know nothing about my biological family. It took me a minute to realize that I couldn’t make a family tree filled with biological family members. I could however make one with the family I have, and the family I am a part of! This was one of my favorite features of 23andme!

Now What: I can imagine that some might feel upset with results similar to mine – if they were hoping for more information or a lead towards meeting their biological family. But for me, the results could not have been any better. Who knows that I will be curious about in my future, but for now, I am content and it was a great experience!

If you are interested in getting your own DNA test, visit

Written By Maya Rogers-Bursen
Boston Post Adoption Resources

About Maya Rogers-Bursen, LMHC, Expressive Therapist

Maya Rogers-Bursen, LMHC, ATR, Expressive Therapist, is a clinician at Boston Post Adoption Resources. To read her bio, please visit BPAR's Team page.